The 15th of August is a date celebrated by all Italians and in the height of holiday session. This national holiday is called Ferragosto and it has been a holy day in Italy for centuries.
A timeline of Ferragosto
Ferragosto, according to more biblical views, is the day that celebrates the Assumption of Virgin Mary to Heaven. However, this holiday dates back to the 18BC where Roman Emperor Augustus decided to celebrate the end of the long and tough harvest in August.
Back then there would be festivities to celebrate the end of the harvest such decorating mules and donkeys with flowers and horse racing events, most notably, Palio dell’Assunta in Siena.
Nowadays, this day is seen as the signal for the people to take holidays, most commonly, in seaside locations or in the mountains (away from the high summer temperatures).
This connotation of Ferragosto and taking a long weekend holiday began in the 1920’s where those from working class backgrounds were given discounts on travel fees to seaside resorts. One way the government facilitated this was by creating the “people’s trains of Ferragosto” with ticket sold at lower prices.
Today not much has changed, many city centres during Ferragosto will be much quieter as many flee to the seaside or in the mountains. From the small and already quiet villages to major city in Italy you’ll see many signs saying “Chiuso per ferie” (closed for the holidays).
However, it’s not all bad news if you are staying more inland. Luckily, most museums and cultural sites stay open for the public.
Ferragosto around Italy
Throughout the country each area seems to celebrate Ferragosto in their own particular way.
In Diano Marina, Liguria, there is a festival along the seaside with a spectacular firework display.
In Rome there is the “Gran ballo di ferragosto” this festivity holds live dance performances around the city with different styles of dancing in each square.
One of the older traditions of Ferragosto is held Sassari in Sardinia. The “Festa dei Candelieri” takes place on the 14th and 15th of August and consists of men racing in teams holding huge candles, one of the more exciting and peculiar traditions.
Enjoy the festivities
With Ferragosto coming within just a few days, we at FindYourItaly, hope you enjoy the festivities wherever you choose to go and become immersed in one of our most celebrated holidays.