Today is August 15, also known as Ferragosto. It’s the holiday in the center of the month of August, which itself is the big vacation month in Italy. It is also a religious holiday — The assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Assumption day.

Ferragosto originates from Feriae Augusti, the festival of Emperor Augustus, who made the 1st of August a day of rest after the weeks of hard work of the agricultural sector.

The popular tradition of taking a trip during Ferragosto arose under the fascist regime. In the second half of the 1920s, during the mid-August period, the regime organized hundreds of popular trips through the fascist leisure and recreational organizations of various corporations. The initiative gave the opportunity to less well-off social classes to visit Italian cities or to reach seaside and mountain resorts. The offer was limited to 13, 14 and 15 August, and comprised two options: the “One-Day Trip”, within a radius of 50-100 kilometers, and the “Three-Day Trip” within a radius of about 100–200 kilometers.

Today, here in Umbria, everything except for bars and restaurants, are closed today. If the Italians aren’t at the beach they are eating and drinking and having fun. I’m happy for them after all they’ve (we’ve) been through this year.

It still is a mystery to me, though, that people whose businesses were closed for 2-3 months and with the economy in the toilet, can still go on vacation. I still see “closed for vacation” signs everywhere. I noticed Bar Mary is closed for three days from today. Normally they take a week in summer. At least they are at the beach as we speak 🥰. Maybe it is the safety net the Italian government has put into place for its people. And they even have incentives for people to go on vacation. The people get to go on vacation and it’s a boost to the hard hit tourist industry.

It is certainly a lot different from the US right now. No one seems to be helping our hard hit populace. No one can afford a vacation. I worry about them paying the rent or mortgage, or even having enough to eat, for heavens sake. Molto triste. 😢

Please let’s all work to stop this pandemic. We all can help. Andrà tutto bene 🌈

7 thoughts on “Ferragosto!

  1. Matthew Daub

    Hi Nancy – I believe your posts have been sensitive and measured. I have been following the progress of the virus in Italy. Just comparing the graphs to the US should be a wake-up call to all of us. This is not a political thing, but a matter of common sense.

  2. Melanie

    I have to agree with Maggie Devlin and please delete if you must. I thoroughly enjoy your blog, pictures and comments, however, I think you tend to make statements about things in the US that you assume is that way all over. As you are well aware we are an enormous country about six times the population of Italy and it is quite natural there will be many more situational differences. I’ve noticed that people who have made life changes and are thrilled with their choices often will then mock or downgrade those or situations they’ve left behind. I’m happy for you that you are very well set up and you appreciate all your blessings but please don’t make assumptions on others. While I too am very aware of the trials of many (and pray for them and help where I can) I also am pleased and thankful to say I know many people in my small area who are thriving, going on vacations and starting new businesses. This is certainly the time we must bolster each other up and not tear each other down. All that said, I would love to be in Italy living your life! Stay safe! 😉

  3. Dave

    Bene. I celebrate Ferragosto on the 18th, my birthday. Going to restaurant for first time since Covid. Rezdora, run by chef Stefano previously from Osteria Francescana. Outdoor dining only here in NYC. Looking forward to it.

  4. Andrew

    Thanks, and I didn’t know about the Fascist-era vacations. But it’s Assumption, not Ascension Day. The former is Mary going to Heaven, the latter is Jesus, celebrated 40 days after Easter.

  5. Sally

    The same here in France they’re all celebrating Ferragosto. It’s surprising to see them as well take these August vacations when their businesses were closed for months. I guess it’s a different mentality than the US. Still the government subsidize them but only 70 to 80% of their pay and you would think they would want to make up for it now that people are here spending money. Very different mindset

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