Summer the Italian Way With a Ferragosto
It’s no secret that Italy is a sizzling summer destination for globetrotters from around the world. There are amazing things to see and do there all year round, but if you really want to experience an authentic Italian vacanza, book a trip in mid-August to enjoy Ferragosto, the country’s beloved midsummer holiday.
Dating back to ancient Roman times, Ferragosto (derived from the Latin term Feriae Augusti) was established by Emperor Augustus in 18 BCE. Back then it was designed to give citizens a day of rest after many weeks of hard work harvesting the fields. Today, it has evolved into a multi-week celebration with unique customs and traditions across each of Italy’s regions.
Since the holiday lands on August 15, the date of the Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary, many Italians use this time to attend special masses. Others enjoy the time off by heading to the beach or countryside. Don’t be surprised if you find major cities emptier than usual! Although the holiday is technically one day, the celebration typically lasts a week or two. This gives Italians a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some well-deserved downtime in nature.
If you do find yourself in the city, you can’t miss the many Ferragosto-centric events that pop up. From lively street festivals and concerts to fireworks displays and open-air markets, there’s entertainment around every corner. While some shops and restaurants close their doors during this period, major tourist attractions like the Colosseum in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence remain open and emptier than usual. That means it’s the perfect time to go sight-seeing without all the crowds.
And let’s not forget about the food! As an opportunity for Italians to come together with family and friends, it's no surprise that food is at the heart of the Ferragosto tradition. People will often gather for picnics, with the summer heat calling for cold dishes. Sandwiches, cheeses, olives, and fresh vegetables are sure to make an appearance, as well as seafood plates, carpaccio, and rice-stuffed tomatoes. Grilling outdoors is a favorite way to pass the time.