It’s Ferragosto! Let’s Party Like the Romans

August 13, 2019

Have you heard of Ferragosto? Ferragosto is officially a holiday on 15 August. Yet, for Italians, it is typically more than one day of celebration.

What IS Ferragosto? Where did it come from and why is it such a huge national holiday?

Back when Augustus was the Roman Emperor, in the year 18 B.C.E., he instituted the Feriai Augusti, a day of rest for the Emperor and his people. The day was dedicated to the Roman god of fertility and of the harvest. It was a time to celebrate and be fruitful as only the Romans could do. 

As there were already other festivals in the month of August, the Romans often celebrated the entire month. There were chariot races but the horses who worked on farms and for delivery were given the day off as were the people.

 In the 20th Century, the Italian descendants of the Romans continued the August party by closing up shops and heading to the beach. And some celebrated the entire month as did their ancestors. Beach towns like Chiavari where I now live begin beach preparations by May.

The modern celebration used to begin on the 1st of August. All that was changed because of the influence of the Vatican. The Catholic Church preferred to celebrate Ferragosto on the Holy Day of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. So, the celebration was changed to the 15th.

As the temperatures heat up, so do the vendors and people alla spiaggia, at the beach. 

What is that guy wearing on the beach in Camogli?

Beaches begin to fill up in July. Above is a free beach area where people bring their own umbrellas.

Here you pay for your chair and umbrella. You also get service with a smile. Time for an aperitivo and some Aperol Spritz?

I like to add some water along with my Spritz myself. How about you?

Are you thinking of traveling to Italy in August? If so, be prepared for many restaurants and stores to be CLOSED. The local people are at the beach and, since most shops are locally owned, they close their doors. 

Who wouldn’t want to escape the heat in the big cities and cool off on one of these chairs?

Or take a sailboat out on the sea or a ferry ride to another town?

This is la dolce far niente, the sweetness of life, that the people of Italy adore.

You can join them. The country is surrounded on three sides by water. I never visited the beaches of Italy when I traveled here for a few weeks at a time. Now, I cannot get enough time by the sea. Granted, if your goal for visiting Italy is to see the art and the big cities, I know that you should do that. If you visit in August most museums will be open and there will always be food and wine for you that you will never forget. It just may not be at the restaurant you planned on visiting.

If you allow a professional travel planner like Take Me Home Italy to assist you, we can help you see the art you crave (as do I) as well as eat, drink and be merry on a beach lounger next to the children of the Romans. The water is refreshing, and the sunsets are unforgettable. Contact me at I would love to help you find your own dolce far niente!

Time to sign off. I must head to the lungomare with my swimsuit, my suntan lotion and my towel. 

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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