Ferragosto in Rome | Jo Linsdell

Ferragosto in Rome

Ferragosto in Rome


Ferragosto in Rome

Yesterday was Ferragosto here in Italy. One of the most popular holidays here in Italy. As Ferragosto is an Italian holiday tourists visiting in August might not be aware that it even exists. As everything pretty much shuts down for this holiday I thought it would be a good idea to explain what Ferragosto is and what to do here in Rome during Ferragosto.

What is Ferragosto?

Ferragosto is a public holiday celebrated in all of Italy on 15th August every year. 

Created by Emperor Augustus in 18 BCE, the Feriae Augusti (Festivals/Holidays of the Emperor Augustus) was originally celebrated on 1st August as a day of rest for workers after weeks of hard work on the agricultural sector. It became a custom for the workers to wish their employers "buon ferragosto" and receive a monetary bonus in return.

During the Renaissance throughout the papal states, this later became law. As the festivity was created for political reasons, the Catholic Church decided to move the festivity to the Assumption of Mary, which is on 15th August, allowing them to include this in the festivity.

Mussolini also use the holiday to give the lower classes the possibility to visit cultural cities or go to the beach for a few days, from the 14th of August to the 16th, by creating "People's Trains of Ferragosto", which were available at discounted prices for this holiday period.

Most companies now close and require all workers to take mandatory vacation during this period.

What to do at Ferragosto in Rome

As most companies close during the week of Ferragosto, Rome can feel a bit like a ghost town during this time of year. Finding shops and activities open can be a challenge.

That said, there are plenty of things to do during Ferragosto here in Rome. 

It's actually the perfect time to visit free sites around the city (like the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna or  the Panethon) as there are much less people around. 

Italians usually use this time to go to the beach. The perfect escape from the heat of the city. Along the coast there are several bars and restaurants too.

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For those that stay in the city, the numerous parks and swimming pools are a popular choice. Picnics and barbeques are common during this period (and have been since it's creation). 

Rome offers a lot of festivals and events during the summer months and August is no exception. A lot of the concerts, markets, etc are free of charge too. 

What we did to celebrate Ferragosto this year

We had a pool day. We had thought about going to the beach for the day but the swimming pool is close to home and, as we wanted to go out in the evening too, it was just more convenient. Plus traffic going to the beach can be a lot during this week as so many people choose to head to the coast to celebrate.

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We went to La Torre Sporting Club here in Rome (our favourite outdoors swimming pool) located on Via Appia Nuova. It's a real oasis here in the city. Accessible pricing, friendly staff, and a great location.

La Torre Sporting Club, Rome

Post pool we headed home for showers and got ready for the evening.

This year we decided to go to one of the numerous festivals taking place. A short 25 minute drive and we were at Lago Albano, Castel Gandolfo.

Lago Albano or Lago di Castel Gandolfo (Lake Albano) is a small volcanic crater lake in the Alban Hills of Lazio, at the foot of Monte Cavo, located 20 km southeast of Rome. Castel Gandolfo, overlooking the lake, is the site of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

Castel Gandolfo is renowned as one of Italy's most scenic towns and is a member of the I Borghi più belli d'Italia ("The most beautiful villages of Italy") association.

For Ferragosto they organised a Festival dell’Arrosticino (Arrosticini are a class of traditional dishes of skewered grilled meat characteristic of Molisana and Abruzzese cuisine. They are typically made from mutton or lamb cut in chunks and pierced by a skewer). To accompany the typical Abruzzo dishes, were agri-food products from Lazio, such as the porchetta from Ariccia and the red wine from the Castelli Romani, and plenty of beer.

Festival dell’Arrosticino, Lago Albano Castel Gandolfo

There was also live entertainment by the Vasco Rossi Tribute Band “Millennium” who put on a concert covering songs by the famous Italian singer. They did a really good job. 

There were also stands and stalls along the strip surrounding the lake with a large variety of products from sweets and honey to clothing.

All of this with the beautiful backdrop of Lago Albano.  

Ferragosto in Rome

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