Monday, June 13, 2016

Italy: Closed for August

From the Archives

August 15 is 'marked on the calendar in red', I was informed by Olga Stinga  one of my great sources in Sorrento, for Italian insight.1



Ferragosto on August 15th, is Assumption Day, a national holiday.  A day when offices, factories, many stores and restaurants are closed it also is the beginning of the exodus from the cities and towns for families not working in the tourist industry.   

The month of August traditionally has been the month for vacanza, vacation, when Italians leave the cities for the cooler mountains, countryside and the sea.     The Italians I lived among in Sorrento loved the sun.   Before temperatures allowed coats to be left at home, the decks for the countless lounge chairs along the Marina Grande were being constructed.    Bodies would fill each sun bed, cover the rocks in coves and grill on the stone beaches along the coast.    The Italians love the sun.


For a perspective on small towns vs cities, I asked my Italian friends to tell me about August closings. "The practice of closing for the entire month (of August) is not common, perhaps because of the economic situation the last few years" Isabell Salesny, in Rome, tells me.   "Any small retail activity, bars, pizza take aways, ice cream shops, close from the 15th to the end of august." "From June to the end of August, grandparents, stay at home moms and children are at the beach.  Husbands visit on the weekends?"  2



Vacations may be shortened to a few days around Ferrogosto, 2 weeks or until school children return to the classroom in September. 


My translator, Caterina lives in  Ravenna  and shares that "the month long holiday is shrinking.   Some services do not close:   pharmacies, tourist attractions.
In smaller towns usually there is only one baker and one vegetable store, and in many cases one shop for both kinds of products, and of course the owner doesn't close."  "Barber shops close for vacations, (my hair dresser closes for two weeks."  3      
" the hardware store may close for a week or more, but here in Ravenna we have a mall and many supermarkets, where you can find everything while you wait until you favorite shop will open again."


Myra Robinson lives about an hour outside of Venice, is an author and an expat.  She answered "how August closings affect daily life?" "Quite often local stores stagger their holidays so that there is always one barber's open etc. The little supermarket is suspending its continuous opening hours and will be closed from 1 to 3.30. I remember from last year that the (Saturday) market was somewhat diminished in July and August. The usual shoe stall and handbag stall were not there, but there was always a fish stall, green grocery etc whereas normally there would be two or three. 4


Monica Cesarato my Venice authority:  "yes they do, usually for a month in August - even in Venice, last night I saw an Osteria which was closing for a month from middle of July to middle of August.


But I have to say as the years go by I see more and more people not closing during the summer, due to the crisis." 5


"Lecce is always opened" declares Yle Sambati in Puglia.
"August is the month of holidays for many Italians: many of them go on holiday in
August at least mentally..unplugged for at least 20 days.   It is the time of the year during which (you) forget about public offices or quick replies.......most of them say "it's August" (this is hilarious right?), or "contact me after august".
 
"And since Puglia is more than ever before,  the TOP place for the Italians, they all head south.
Especially in the Salento - namely the trendiest part of Puglia - with its incredible beaches and summer places, services and facilities are available also in August except for FERRAGOSTO"

"In the past, the cities used to be empty in August since all the locals were on the beach or enjoying their summer houses. It's different now,  In Lecce, for example, from the morning till very late at night you have people in town and many facilities available."


"The shops that close are mostly those outside the historic town, since this is the part of the town where most locals and tourists enjoy the DOLCE VITA, what in Lecce we call THE MOVIDA.  Shops and facilities may close " PER FERIE" (summer holiday) and open up again after Ferragosto (August 15th) or for the Saint Patron Celebration (Festa di Sant'Oronzo August 24 - 26)".6


."

My new BF Tina with DND said:  What Ferie?7



Buono Vacanze

Thank you to all my contributors from Italy for your input and willingness to answer my many odd questions.

1.  Olga Sting Study Abroad Program Coordinator & Head of the Italian Department, Santa Anna Institute  http://www.santannainstitute.com
2.  Isabell Salesney, Estate Agent and co founder of Rome based, www.Casaitaly.it
3.  Catterina   for translations find her on Fiver.com  as slam24
4.  Myra Robinson, author of Fried Flowers and Fango, writer, expat:  http://myrarobinson.info
5.  Monica Cesato, http://www.monicacesarato.com, learn Italian, home stay, cooking adventures and Venice experiences not in the travel books.
6.  Ylenia Sambati, owner of Yltour.com (www.yltourcongressi.com).  A travel concierge
  who works to maker you dream of Italy come true. 
7.  Discover Naples Destinations, DND.  A totally new way to travel and learn about Naples and it's surrounding treasures.  http://www.discovernapolidestinations.com, ask for Tina













34 comments:

  1. I've been caught out by August in Italy before - things like looking for a restaurant that I remember from a previous visit and finding it closed for two weeks! And Ferrogusto as well, I've often only found out about that when I've tried to go out and buy something! But the upside is the saints day processions in the smaller towns - I'll never forget the August procession in Riomaggiore.

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    1. Karen, there is NOTHING like an Italian city in August....and I live in the south of the USA! Interesting how my local 'reporters' didn't think it was odd or abnormal to have2 to 4 weeks off just because it was summer......I can remember being thrilled to have 2 wks together..... I love to hear about travel 'finds' you don't read about in a book. Shall try to remember Riomaggire for a future adventure. Meanwhile,I saw you are in the UK .....just planning a stop there before a convention in Italy......I may need a suggestion or two for fall travel

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  2. Aloha, Lee, this is great information for those of us who have wondered how much a visit in August would impact our experience. Very comprehensive. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for finding and reading my post! There are many ways to work around a holiday closing. Just like the short term transportation 'strikes' the Italians manage well. and everyone is often at the beach during August.
      How wonderful for you, living in Hawaii...

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  3. Well, now I know when NOT to go! Actually I have to head to Europe for a trip in August, and need to pick a city for a layover, so I guess an Italian city won't be one of them.

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    1. Oh please dont pass up Italy for a one day event and the major airport/cities are also tourist meccas so you should have lots to do, just not on the 15th of August. And the beaches should be crowded then also, but there is so much else to do.......If you are thinking of Venice, Naples or Puglia, I have great contacts that can arrange a day of seeing/tasting. Florence is a few miles from the airport, but you may never want to leave..... you have written about rome so i shall not give you my budget travel tips........how long do you have? perhaps I can suggest something new.... and thank you for reading my post....

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  4. Another terrible part of Ferragosto is getting caught in the highway traffic!

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    1. oh YES, nothing like driving to the beach in a sea of cars...just like in New Jersey....I never drive in Italy..........would have to learn many new words...... thank you for finding my blog

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  5. This is really handy information about Italy and something I've never read elsewhere. Good to know -- it would have been helpful to have had this kind of info when I went to Greece in August :)

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    1. thank you for finding my blog, speaking with locals give me info and stories you dont find in a book..... if you plan to go to italy, let me know i may have some other tips for your trip

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  6. I love the idea of a national vacation month although I'll have to remember that it might not be a great time to visit Italy!

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    1. If you plan to go to any of the wonderful beaching in Italy you will have company....but they are very organized: chairs for each beach club are different colors, you pay for your chair, umbrella, etc, everyone is packed in close rows and they do not seem to mind.

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  7. Now that we're empty nesters and not tied to a school schedule for holidays, we assiduously try to avoid any summer travel in Europe.

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    1. thanks for reading my post. It gave me an opportunity to sign up on your blog......I have a newer blog on mature travel (solo) and would like any opinion you have: since you don't travel solo, do you feel you can go more 'adventurous places, do more off the grid activities or is it no different?

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  8. My brother lives in Europe and always talks about how "everyone" in August shuts their doors (except those perhaps after the real tourist $$$) -
    The equivalent in Australia is January where certainly the manufacturing industries go for a shut down during the long school summer holidays - but those wishing to make hay while the sun shines will keep at it (particularly during these uncertain times)

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    1. Even if some places are closed, I can appreciated the quiet streets (away for the 'important' places to see) in all the towns.
      this is great info on Australia in Jan................I am trying to plan a trip when tourists are not in town...........even if it is colder and rainy....thank you

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  9. I've heard similar things about August travel in other parts of Europe but haven't experienced it because I've rarely been there in August. It sounds like a good idea to do some research on what's open and not in various spots in Italy if you do go in August.

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    1. very true, if there is a particular restaurant or store you want to visit. I pick off season to travel because solo travel is less expensive when thee are not masses of tourists driving prices up...

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  10. We were lucky when we were in Italy in August a few years ago, everything we needed was open.

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    1. very true, if you re in the center of town you should have fewer problems than perhaps where the local vendor is going on vacation

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  11. Hello! So nice to chance upon your blog :) I found this concept of Italy closed very strange when I heard at first. I will never plan to go in August ;)

    Nice to connect - I blog on Italy too (www.ishitasood.blogspot.in)

    ReplyDelete
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  14. From 15-19 august ? My understanding is that for rome retail shops, restaurants and boutiques during this period will be closed too and is that the same for Florence from 20-27 august. If so not happy with travel agent not advising so

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    1. i have been to Florence many time but not during the tourist crush....you will need to check openings for major museums etc but I believe some shops and restaurants stay open because the tourist season is most important to business.
      However, my favorite shipping store, MBetc does close for a week or more in August..........if there is a particular store you want to be sure is open or if they have abbreviated hours, perhaps check their web site or even with the tourist office

      i expect the outdoor market will be open......let me know what you find, please

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  15. Italy has many firsts to its name—they first invented ice cream, thermometer, typewriter and eyeglasses.

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  16. thank you for your input! I had not heard of all of these

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  17. I'm just learning of this and my wife and I will be traveling to Italy this August. We fly into Rome and planned to visit Florence, Cingue Terre and Venice as well. We will be there from the 19th - 27th of August. Is there anything we should be worried about or places you would recommend going to instead or within these cities?!? Very nervous traveler knowing this situation.

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    1. I am not the Italian expert but since tourism is a BIG part of the Italian economy you should find lots to do, see and eat in the three areas you are traveling. They all are very popular places. You may find a restaurant closed but another is open.
      most of the towns along the sea are VERY popular in the summer.
      ;
      let me know how you find August in Italy.

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    2. if you know you want to visit some of the most popular sites (Rome the vatican mus., Florence the Uffizi) you can often prebook tickets online. and i hear that the vat. mus. has special hours on friday night.........make sure you check this out, i have not seen this posted anywhere yet. enjoy your trip

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. Thanks for the tips! I've been going back and forth on a money belt for a three week trip to help keep cc/cash separate. Or Is keeping them in separate purse compartments or Locked up back at the hotel sufficient? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you
    Places to visit in Venice Italy

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    1. sorry have been traveling for 3 months and the last few wks without much wifi.
      after having a credit card hacked from one simple purchase i am happy to tell you what i do:
      i have some cash in a money belt and the amount i need each day in a DEEP pocket, i found pants at chicos with very deep pockets! this way i never go into my purse when i purchase something. and if i dont feel a hand in a front pocket than i mucst be asleep!

      i use atm machinges when i need to replenish my cash reserve...i used a debit card this year and saved the interest fees i had last year from cc cash advances, and i charged all my hotels. hope that helps

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