What is Ferragosto – the Italian August 15 Holiday


Buon giorno and welcome to Stefano’s RomeCabs Transfers and Tours Travel Blog.

In this post, we introduce you to a popular Italian holiday:


What is Ferragosto – the Italian August 15 Holiday


Buon giorno and welcome to Stefano’s RomeCabs, Rome’s leading company for private Transfers, Day Tours and Shore Excursions.

August may be considered a slow travel month in many parts of the world who normally take their summer vacations in June or July, but in Italy, August is the month to take a much anticipated annual vacation… anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks.

Many small local businesses shut down while Italians pack their bags and head to the coastline beaches or to the mountains.  You’ll find cities like Rome to be almost void of locals and the usual heavy traffic.  However, most  businesses that tourists depend on still stay open

It’s really pleasant to visit Rome in August if you don’t mind the hot summer heat:  hotel prices dip (while the beachside resorts peak), fewer crowds, less traffic, quieter atmosphere.

One of the most celebrated holidays in Italy is Ferragosto which falls on August 15.  As with many things Italian, this holiday too originated over 2,000 thousand years ago in Ancient Rome and evolved over time.

How many holidays do you have in your home country that started 2,000 years ago and still continue?

Here is a bit of history about this famous Italian holiday.


Ferragosto  – or Feriae Augusti (Festivals of the Emperor Augustus) – was introduced by Emperor  Gaius Octavius Augustus himself in 18 BC, supposedly after his victory over Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

This festival was added to previous existing festivals that celebrated the end of a long laborious period of harvest, and the numerous festivals together offered workers a longer period of much needed rest called Augustali.
During these festivals, horse races took place across the Roman Empire, and beasts of burden that worked the fields such as mules and oxen, were unfettered and honored with flowers.
Some festivals still take place in Italy during Ferragosto such as  the Palio dell’Assunta in Siena and other historic festivals that are set during Italy’s Medieval or Renaissance eras.

During the Ferragosto festival, one of the traditions was that workers greeted their masters who gave them a small monetary reward. This custom has become so entrenched in the local culture that it became obligatory in Papal States by the Renaissance era.



The Assumption of Mary falls on Ferragosto holiday, August 15 and it is a Catholic holiday (therefore the Vatican Museums are also closed in observation).

This holiday is important to Catholics and Orthodox Christians as the the day Virgin Mary’s sinless soul and incorrupt body was received into Heaven. The Assumption of Mary is symbolized by the  Lilly Flower (fleur-de-lis)



In the late 1290’s during Italy’s fascist regime, leisure-time pursuits during the Ferragosto arose with the regime organizing hundreds of trips promoting mass leisure activities.  

The commonly known “People’s Trains of Ferragosto” were available to the populace at steep discounts to give the less well of class access to regions of Italy they otherwise would not afford on their own.  Options included shorter Single Day Trips within 50-100 kilometer radius, or a 3 day trip within a radius of 100-200 kilometers



Nowadays Italians anticipate their (usually) month long Ferragosto vacation with trips to the seaside, the mountains, or to visit family either by car, train or plane.

Postiano Beach

You can expect popular seaside destinations (such as Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Sardinia, to name a few towns and regions) to be packed with Italian and European tourists. These popular tourist destinations are best avoided in August.

To enjoy Italy in August, it’s best to avoid the popular beachside destinations in Italy, and enjoy the larger cities like Rome and Florence from where the locals depart from for a more quieter and serene visit.

For more information on visiting Rome in August, click on the following articles:

10 Things you need to know when visiting Rome in AUGUST!



3 Common Mistakes that Ruin Your Summer Trip to Rome

Visiting Rome in the Summer? What to expect

Essential Travel Tips for Visting Rome in August


For more information on Stefano’s RomeCabs, our Transfers, Day Tours and Shore Excursions, please visit our website below:

Stefano's RomeCabs

Stefano’s RomeCabs


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