Ferragosto, or Why Italy Closes in August

Part of Italian cultural DNA is to vacate the cities for the month of August and head for the beaches or mountains, with this tradition dating all the way back to 18 B.C.! This was the year Emperor Augustus, after whom the month of August is named (it was his favorite time of year), formally instituted the August ‘vaca’ by connecting various annual festivities celebrating the harvest to create an extended period of rest from the year’s labors. He filled this period with rituals, races, games and FUN. Known then as feriae augusti and today as Ferragosta, it later took on a Christian meaning as well coinciding with the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven celebrated on August 15th.  Today, August 15th is a national holiday and much like our 4th of July or Memorial Day culminates in dazzling displays of fireworks filling the night skies.

Good or bad for tourists? … that depends on where you’re headed. There’s a bit more breathing room in major cities, though shops and restaurants may by be closed, with concerts and other activities making up for it. If you’re headed to the beaches, you’ll be sharing the sun, the sea and the sand . . . but even then, there are over 5,000 miles of spectacular coastline to discover and savor.

Photos featured are from Sardinia, Elba, Capri, Lipari, Sicily, Procida, Ischia, and the Amalfi Coast.



  1. Generosa Gina Protano

    August 15, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Thank you for the cultural note. Well done, especially since many people—Italians from Italy as well!!—are not really aware of the origin of Ferragosto!

    thank you again.

    • Carla Gambescia author of La Dolce Vita University

      August 21, 2019 at 10:17 pm


  2. Raymond Moy

    August 15, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the cultural explanation. No wonder none of my Italian conversation partners is around today!

    • Carla Gambescia author of La Dolce Vita University

      August 21, 2019 at 10:13 pm


  3. Dr Joseph M Juliano

    August 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Going to puligia sept / October

    • Carla Gambescia author of La Dolce Vita University

      August 21, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      You’ll love it! I did a slideshow and post on Puglia in early June, check it out — it’s titled Puglia, The Next Tuscany?


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