Ferragosto: Italy goes on vacation in August
Ferragosto, for the vast majority of Italians, means one thing: HOLIDAY. It’s a time of mass exodus from the cities to the beaches and mountains. Store fronts are shuttered with signs saying Chiuso per ferie or closed for vacation, and normally bustling town centers become deserted.
The date August 15is technically the day of Ferragosto, but the typical break period is the entire month of August. (Though nowadays we are seeing a trend toward a shorter 2 week vacation.)
Ferragosto, however, is not an arbitrarily designated holiday. Like most things Italian, it has its roots in antiquity. The term itself is a derivative of the Latin feriae Augusti, which is a reference to the fact the original holidays were implemented by emperor Augustus in the first century B.C. This “bank holiday” of sorts coincided with the already practiced harvest festivities to grant a nice time of rest after the hard agricultural labor cycle.
August 15 is also the day when the assumption of the virgin Mary is observed.
If you plan to visit Italy in August, just remember that you may find much of the tourist cities chiuso per ferie… Head to the beach instead and join the Italian masses in celebration of a much-anticipated time of year.