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What is Ferragosto?

What is Ferragosto?

Every year, Italians celebrate the peak of summer and the start of vacation on August 15. A happy combination of ferie (holidays) and agosto (August), the national holiday presents the opportunity to escape the heat – but not before one last hurrah.

Yep, you read that right. It's a national holiday that celebrates going on holiday. We Italians know how to enjoy ourselves.

Dating back centuries, Ferragosto traditionally marked the end of the harvest season, when friends and family gathered together to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The festival also coincides with Assumption Day, the Catholic feast day celebrating Mary’s ascent to heaven.

Today, Italians celebrate with colorful religious processions, festivals overflowing with live music and fireworks, and – our favorite – great feasts. Roma comes alive for the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto, a city-wide party during which every street, square, and corner is dedicated to dancing; Siena overflows with locals and visitors alike to watch Il Palio, a historic horse race in the central Piazza del Campo of the medieval Tuscan town.

But nota bene: after Ferragosto, most Italian cities transform into ghost towns as residents flock to the beach to start their summer vacation. If you find yourself in Italy in mid-August, post offices, banks, and markets are likely to be closed for le vacanze. Don't be sad: just join us at the seaside (we have a handy guide to beach culture)!

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Create your own Ferragosto feast with our seaside favorites online or at your local Eataly!

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