Planning a holiday in Italy in August? While you might be prepared for the heat and the crowds, you probably don’t know about Ferragosto.
People descend on Italy in August from all over the world. And I understand why. It’s what holidays are made for; gorgeous beaches, clear sunny days (a bit too hot really), and it’s tomato season.
Italians are on holiday in August too.
Right in the middle of August, the 15th, is a national holiday called Ferragosto. It’s one of the most important holidays in Italy of the year, especially for the Italian psyche. The cities of Italy empty of Italians as they head for the seaside. Or, if they want to escape the heat, they go to the mountains. So it’s a good thing Italy has so much coastline and high peaks.
But regardless, for me, it’s the worst month see and enjoy Italy if you’re wanting to go to cities like Rome, Florence and Venice.
So How Long Does Ferragosto Last?
The official national holiday is on August 15th.
But many businesses, like restaurants and factories, close for a week before, a week after, both weeks, or the whole month off so that their employees have the time off.
Visiting Italy in August?
If you’re planning on visiting Italy in August I recommend doing as the Italians do.
Plan on a low key day just relaxing, like enjoying the pool at the place you’re staying, reading the book you brought with you and haven’t opened or work on your tan.
If you choose an adventure make sure you have a car because public transit will be slim to none.
Maybe drive to the coast and embark on a long leisurely lunch of seafood pasta, fried fish, and white wine. Or up to the mountains with a packed lunch and a hike in the fresh air.
In Umbria, Trasimeno Lake is also a good spot for a stroll, fresh air, and good food.
But, if you’re planning on eating out make sure to make reservations (called prenotatare in Italian). Many restaurants close for the month of August, and if they aren’t closed they’ll be busy.
Ideas for a day trip to the beach at Ferragosto
- Senigallia: On the Adriatic coast, it’s a pretty small town with nice beaches and great seafood.
- Ancona: The capital city of the province of Le
- Piombino: On the Tuscan coast, for a few nights take the ferry to the island of Elba.
- Orbetello: On the Tuscan Coast, there’s a lagoon, pine forests, and sandy beaches.
Planning on spending some time on the Italian beaches? Check out my tips on how to get the most out of a beach holiday in Italy.
There are some beautiful spots in Umbria to explore that will have fresher air like:
- Norcia: on the border of the National Park for the Sibillini mountains, it’s famous for producing world-class pork.
- Castelluccio: a two
–hour drive from Perugia, it’s inside the Sibillini mountains with green valleys, sheep cheese, and excellent lentils.
- Mount Subasio: this is the mountain Assisi is built on, so easily accessed from Assisi or Perugia.
- Monte Cucco: small restaurants, great hikes on a mountain in the north of Umbria right on the border with Le Marche.
The History of Ferragosto, August in Italy.
The origin of Ferragosto dates back to the time of Emperor Augustus in around 18BC. He made the
It might also have been to celebrate his victory over Mark Antony. Then he was Caesar Octavian and it was the Battle of Actium on 2 September, 31BC.
The Romans had several other festivals during the month of August, all giving workers and animals some time off after the weeks of hard labor from the harvest.
Farm animals like mules, donkeys, and oxen were decorated with flowers and ribbons. And horse races. The tradition of racing horses has continued on till today. A great example today is in Siena, Tuscany. On August 16th there is a famous horse race, called the Palio, around the towns
After Augustus passed away, this month full of holidays was named after him. The tradition of saying ‘buon
August After the Romans
Since nothing in Italy doesn’t have the Catholic Church mixed in, they changed the date of the holiday from the first of August to the 15th for the Assumption of Mary. It’s the day that the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, body and soul, after her life on earth. This allowed the Church to fully embrace the holiday. I love hearing the church bells ringing for mass the evening of the 14th.
Fast forward to pre-WWII, in the 1920s, and enter the Fascist party of Italy, led by Mussolini. To keep the lower classes happy, holidays were encouraged by deep discounts.
Cultural city visits or seaside trips for 1 to 3 days, normally from August 14th till the 16th, were organized by the regime. Mussolini lowered train fares, calling them the ‘People’s trains of Ferragosto’, making it easy for people to get out of Rome or Milan. And the tradition of packed lunches and BBQs comes from there being no bonuses for hotels or meals.
Visiting Modern Italy in August
With the economy strong in the 60s, 70s, and 80s and the norm became the month of August off for holidays. Now a closing a factory, store, or restaurant for a month is harder on the profit margin. These days things might be closed for two weeks, but many don’t completely shut down at all now.
How will this affect the average tourist? Eating out in Rome. In August eating out continues to be a challenge, as at least two-thirds of the restaurants will be closed. I think this continues since the heat makes working nearly impossible and most who live in Rome, the regulars, have left the city anyway.
What happens in Umbria for Ferragosto?
Being that Umbria is landlocked it isn’t always about escaping to the beach. The many mountains around the province are popular for families. Getting out into the wilderness, with cooler temperatures, and enjoy a picnic for the Italians who don’t love the beach. Once you get to over 800 meters even a summer day at 40 degrees celsius is bearable.
Otherwise, it’s a 90-minute drive by car to the Adriatic coast, the other popular destination.
My Umbrian Family on Ferragosto?
We have family in Rome who come up to Umbria and stay with us to escape the heat, pollution, and tourists by spending the week with us. Lots of lunches under the oak tree, BBQs with friends and trips to Lake Trasimeno for gelato.
While I’ve done a fair amount of trips to Rome, Florence or the beach in August I’d much rather stay home. It’s hot and crowded, I find June or July is far more relaxing and enjoyable.
Visiting Italy in August is hot, so get