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What is Ferragosto in Italy?

One of the most awaited holidays by Italians is, without adoubt, the Ferragosto; even more than Christmas, trust me!

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What is Ferragosto in Italy?

Italy is the birthplace of Catholicism and religious holidays are much awaited there, but there is one that is more awaited than Christmas: it is Ferragosto! Do you know what this holiday means? When is it? Why is it so expected? Today we will tell you EVERYTHING: about what is Ferragosto in Italy? Let’s go to our post of the day: What is Ferragosto in Italy? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patriciayou make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”


If you want to see an Italian’s eyes shine, just say Ferragosto! The most anticipated holiday by Italians is also a holiday of great religious value. Today we will understand the importance of Ferragosto for Italians and give you an overview of what opens and what doesn’t open on the precious August 15th! Take a tour in Sinea, San Gimignano and Chianti? Click here to learn more!

The feast was originally on August 1, but the Catholic Church changed the date to August 15th, and it was just beacuse on that day we also celebrate the Assumption of Mary, which is the ascension of Our Lady to heaven so that she lives with her son not only with her soul, but also with her body. In other words: it is not just a day of rest, Ferragosto is, above all, a day of prayer and reflection for Catholics. Discover our section Festivities in Italy!

Let’s learn more about the name Ferragosto?

The term derives from Feriae Augusti; in 27 B.C., the then Emperor Augustus decided to declare the entire month of August a holiday (Feriae Augusti means ‘August holidays’, August ‘vacation’).

By the way, the month of August was named after the aforementioned emperor and already included a series of religious festivals, the most important of which was the Feast of Diana, which was on August 13th. Throughout the month there were moments of rest (Augustali) and several celebrations originating from Consualia, which were celebrations that celebrated the end of agricultural work in honor of Conso, god of the land and fertility.

In 21 B.C., the religious festivals of the month and all the other celebrations that took place in August, were incorporated into a single celebration, the Feriae Augustales.

The Celebrations

People celebrated with horse racing and also used many draft animals, such as oxen, donkeys and mules adorned with wreaths. The workers made their masters the best wishes and, in return, received a tip, advice, which could be about the plantation or any other matter, or received a gift that could be money or food; that was how the masters recognized their employees’ hard work and rewarded them for it.

Although the festivities lasted the entire month, the official day of Augusti Feriae was fixed on August 1st, until the Catholic Church changed the date so that the day was celebrated on the same day as the Assumption of Mary. It is worth remembering that the anniversary of the Assumption of Mary was assimilated by the Catholic Church in the 7th century, however the dogma of the Assumption was only recognized as such in 1950.

The Festivities in Italy

The festivities in Italy are always celebrated with parties and pilgrimages and can last all week, especially because they are at the height of summer; Not on August 15th, but on August 16th, in Siena, for example, there is the Palio della Assunta (you may know it as the Palio of Siena). The palio, in Latin – pallium, celebrates the first horse that crosses the finish line at Piazza Del Campo; in Argentario, for example, there is the Palio with boats, which goes from Saracino to Sarteano; finally, in all cities there are commitments to celebrate the summer. Discover our section Festivities in Italy!

A little more about Ferragosto…

Ferragosto is also reputed to be the hottest day of the year; Of course, this is not always a fact, but they love to think it is, and it is the middle of the month (although August is a 31-day month); so there’s a lot of stuff involved on that special day for Italians.

Ferragosto’s holiday is not only celebrated in Italy! August is a traditional holiday month in Europe and in many places around the world. In the Republic of Congo it is the day of independence, as well as in India. It is also the day of the liberation of the Koreans and the restitution of Taiwan; it is a national holiday also in Liechtenstein and Spain and in several other Catholic countries like Costa Rica. In Canada, Ferragosto is also the National Acadian Day, a celebration established in 1881 that recalls the first French colonists who settled in then Acadia, in northern Canada.

In Ireland, in the Gaelic language, Assumption is called Féile Mhuire ‘sa bhFomhar and Ferragosto is a party that has always had a particular importance. An old legend says that bathing in the sea on August 15th has a beneficial effect on health and that the act brings luck for the rest of the year; so many people choose to go to the beach on that day. Needless to say, European beaches get CROWDED, right?!

What opens and what closes on August 15th?

Well, it is very difficult to say with certainty which establishments work normally; in small towns, I say in advance: almost everything closes! If you’re lucky, you can find something open until noon, then: forget it! That is why it is very important to inquire before leaving. Make reservations in advance, as not all restaurants work, and those that open get crowded quickly, both for lunch and dinner. Inquire at the hotel if their restaurant (if available) works, as many hotels also close the kitchen. In large cities, most sihgts are open normally, as well as large shops, bars and restaurants; however, religious monuments, like Vatican Museums, for example, do not work!

Public transport

Public transport operates normally, but with a small fleet in some places, nothing drastic, but it is possible that you take trains, buses and subways that are more crowded than normal; avoid traveling at the end of the day and in the morning, which is when there is more agitation. A good time range is between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, it’s more peaceful! Also read about the Rome and Milan subways!

Important to Know!

In fact, it is good to remember that the whole week of the 15th is kind of ‘slow’! Many places close all week, others only work at certain times, others close all month; a tip is: if possible, avoid traveling during this period, go a week before or one after, it is more peaceful and the chance of finding some closed place is smaller.

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What is Ferragosto in Italy? Ferragosto is more than just a holiday, it has a meaning that goes beyond rest for Italians and is undoubtedly one of the most awaited holidays in Italy.

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