August is traditionally a vacation month in Italy. The days of everything shutting down and Italian cities emptying completely has changed over the years, but life is definitely slower and quieter during the hot and lazy month. Here are a few things to know about August in Italy.
The day when things really shut down in August 15. Think of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and you get the idea. Some major sites, restaurants and small food shops will be open. Make sure you book ahead.
The tradition of the August 15 holiday , called Ferragosto, has ancient and religious origins. The Roman Emperor Augustine created feriae Augusti meaning August rest, to celebrate the summer harvest and the end agricultural tasks. The Catholic church celebrates the Assumption of Mary.
Beginning in the 1920’s the fascist regime encouraged the mass exodus from the city by reducing train fares and seaside accommodations from the 13-16 of August.
Many small towns and villages will have festivals on August 15 with parades, food carts and market stalls.
In Positano the celebration of Sbarco dei Saraceni reenacts a historic pirate battle and in the evening the town’s black Madonna icon is brought out of the Duomo and is celebrated with fireworks set off from boats in the bay.
Head to Siena in Tuscany to see one of the most dramatic festivals, the Palio. The historic horse race is held on August 16, but there are festivities and parades the day before.
No matter where in Italy you are on Ferragosto, the night sky will be filled with fireworks.
Chiuso per Ferie
Closed for the holidays – You will probably see signs with these words on many shops and restaurants.
Be prepared for things to be closed or have erratic hours, check before you go that somewhere is open.
Our best advice is be Italian and head for the beach or to the mountains and relax.