Tuscan Summer Festivals 2020: Date Changes

The Cortona Mix Festival has now become a Tuscan summer memory since it will no longer be staged in the future.


Keeping in mind the caliber of Lucca Summer Festival’s guest artists—including Paul McCarthy, Celine Dion, John Legend and the little-seen Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf plus others—organizers have discarded the idea of moving the festival to September.  It will skip an edition: 2020 audience members will be given vouchers for 2021, with the exception of Paul McCartney who canceled so ticket holders can be reimbursed.

The June edition of Arezzo’s Giostra del Saraceno has been cancelled, although the September 6 edition is still scheduled to take place.  The medieval pageantry and the joust back to the time of the crusades of the 11th and 13th  centuries when Christian knights encountered the Saracens, the name given to the Turks.


The municipality of Fiesole is hoping that the Fiesole Summer Festival (Estate Fiesolana) can still take place as planned.

This year’s Mercantia, the annual international street artist festival that transforms the streets, piazzas, and courtyards of Certaldo into a crowded stage, has been postponed until July 2021.  Cortona Mix offered a multidisciplinary exploration of culture by ‘mixing’ concerts, theatrical performances, literary events and interviews with experts in a wide variety of fields across a five-day calendar that enveloped a city put on the world map by Frances Mayes.  The festival seems to have had the same fate as its predecessor, Mayes’s Tuscan Sun Festival: with no talk of the future, an announcement on the website thanks “everyone for having accompanied us on this fantastic adventure for the past eight years.”

The iconic Pistoia Blues Festival with 2020 guest artists such as Simple Minds and The Script, and hosted by Piazza del Duomo of this small Tuscan city, has been fast-forwarded to 2021.

After an initial postponement, the Palio di Siena has been definitively canceled for 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, according to an official announcement issued by the city on May 14.  The last time Palio races were not run was in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II.  Fans will need to wait until 2021 to see if the horse Remorex, the riderless winning wonder of two of the last three Palios, will strike again (see story here).

There is no word regarding the Puccini Opera Festival held during July and August in Torre del Lago, although seats at the open air theatre on the lake are still for sale online.


Bringing the rhythms of the American deep South to a small spa town in the Apennine mountains, the Poretta Soul Festival, which gathers musicians from all across the United States for Europe’s only event celebrating “old school” soul music, will skip a year to return in 2021.  Dedicated to its memorable concerts, “A Soul Journey,” created by festival director Graziano Uliani, in the meantime has just won first prize for best documentary at the London Independent Film Festival.

The organizers of both Massa Marittima’s Lirica in Piazza open air operas and, above Lucca, Opera Barga and Barga Jazz, hope their festivals will go ahead circumstances permitting.  (rosanna cirigliano)