12/10/2012 07:03 am ET | Updated Feb 09, 2013

4 Must-See Festivals In Tuscany

Rooted in history, Tuscany is one our most popular destinations for its food, sun, lifestyle, wine and relaxation -- even Olympic road cycling medalist Kristin Armstrong names Tuscany as one of her favorite vacation spots. But for travelers looking to make their Tuscan cycling vacation truly unique, we encourage you to step off the beaten track and check out these four famous festivals.

Il Palio
Il Palio is the most important event in Siena. Dating back to the 1500s, this colorful bareback horse race around Siena's main square may be won in under 90 seconds, but the events leading up to and after Il Palio are just as exciting. Pageants and medieval feasts contribute to the week long festivities which make Il Palio a must-see for thrill seekers and history buffs. July 2 and August 16, 2013.

Carnival of Viareggio
Viareggio Carnival is one of Italy's best known events. Each year, millions of people take part in carnival celebrations, which include flower shows, parades, pageants and fireworks. Of course, the highlight of Viareggio Carnival is the parades which feature stunning paper-mache floats throughout this quaint Italian seaside village. February 3, 10, 12, 17 and 24, 2013.

Regatta of St Ranieri
Named by Lonely Planet as one of the best festivals in the world, the Regatta of St Ranieri is a high-speed boat race that pits teams of rowers against each other as they race up the River Arno. What is unique about the Regatta of St. Ranieri is that the winner of the race is not the first boat across the finish line, but to the team whose "montatore" (climber) is the first to scale a 10-meter pole on top of a boat anchored at the finish line and grab the correct flag! The Regatta of St. Ranieri will take place June 17, 2013.

Pistoi Blues Festival
Drawing famous blues and jazz artists from across the globe, the Pistoi Blues Festival is a favourite amongst music lovers. Taking place in the first weeks of July, the festival also includes a unique opportunity to jam with the performers.

Find other fun festivals over at Discover Tuscany.