15 Aug 2014 Ferragosto: A National Holiday in Italy
A treasured national holiday in Italy, the 15th August holiday known as “Ferragosto” hails the unofficial start of the Italian vacation season. Italians from the interior flock to coastal resorts to frolic in the surf and to escape the summer’s heat.
Ferragosto traditions include celebrations, festivals, and parades. Events are held in various parts of the country to mark the holiday, which coincides with the religious Assumption Day in Italy. Ferragosto traditions date back to ancient times, tied to religious and seasonal agricultural commemorations that feted peace, prosperity, growth and fertility.
Ferragosto in Italy has evolved, combining aspects of different observances, and the 15th August holiday is unique in that Italians from all levels, from millionaires to laborers, take a holiday together.
Tourists should note that many businesses, shops and restaurants shut their doors for the day, one of the Ferragosto traditions that can catch visitors by surprise, though that particular facet of Assumption Day in Italy doesn’t hold as much sway in the more popular resort areas.
With so many locals vacating the cities during Ferragosto in Italy and heading for the hills and the coast, it can be a good time to visit places like Rome and Venice, where the crowds are thinner than usual.
On Assumption Day in Italy, in Rome, for example, you can take in the famed dance festival, the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto, when squares and plazas are filled with revelers enjoying a wide variety of dance performances. While you are there, you, and your friends may wish to book a stay in the Roman countryside of Sabina, and relax poolside at the elegant Villa Soratte, which can accommodate up to 15 guests in style and comfort.
Although this national holiday in Italy takes up only a single day on the calendar, the party doesn’t begin and end on the 15th of August. Ferragosto in Italy is just part of an entire month dedicated to rest, recreation, and relaxation.
August holidays in Italy took root centuries ago, coming after the busy planting season, and before the equally busy harvest season of September and October. If you are traveling to Tuscany, Montepulciano hosts a historical pageant, complete with period costumes and games. The region is known for its wine; you and your friends can enjoy a noble red Montepuciano d’Abruzzo and take in the stunning views while luxuriating at the regal Villa Le Favole.
On the Ligurian Riviera, near Rapallo, guests at the Villa Renetta are pampered with modern amenities and Old World charm. During the mid-August holidays in Italy Liguria comes alive for the feast of the Assumption, with fireworks, local gourmet delights and the famous Festival Dell’Asado.
If Sardinia calls to you, you won’t want to miss Sassari’s Festival of the Candle, or “Festa dei Candelieri”, which comes complete with one of the most unusual races in the world, pitting against each other teams of men carrying huge candles.
After the races the beautiful Villa Melograno will soothe you with its lush gardens overlooking sunny and romantic beaches. The villa has all the modern touches while retaining the nostalgic feel of yesteryear. The frantic pace of today’s world slows to a relaxing and gentle luxury.
Beaches, mountains, rural retreats or bustling cityscapes: wherever you go in Italy, it’s “la dolce vita”.
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