It's FERRAGOSTO, the annual outdoor picnic event

It's FERRAGOSTO, the annual outdoor picnic event

Aug 15, 2020Donatella Mulvoni

Everything you need to know about this beloved Italian tradition falling on August 15. Celebrate the day with us like a “vero Italiano!”



If you live outside the “Belpaese” you probably don't have the slightest idea about this Italian celebration. It is a particularly cheerful and festive day. On August 15, families and friends gather, usually in the countryside (seaside, lakes or mountains), in the open air, to have a lunch or a picnic and cool and relax together. Next to Christmas, Easter and New Year’s Eve, this is the most important holiday in Italy. In ancient times, the Romans had this late summer ritual celebrating fertility. Originating in the Roman Empire, “Ferragosto” comes from “Feriae Augusti”, literally the Holiday honoring Emperor Augustus. Later, the Catholics transformed this day in a Holy Day, celebrating the Assumption, when “la Madonna”, Virgin Mary, ascended to heaven. Nowadays there is nothing religious about it. August 15th means avalanches of food, wine, music and a lot of joy. In many cities - such as the beautiful Amalfi Coast - there is also the unforgettable spectacle of fireworks over the sea. Some side effects? A lot (a lot!) of traffic in the most famous touristic sites and so many “chiuso per ferie” (closed for holiday) signage, because almost all offices and stores closed.



According to a survey by Coldiretti - the Italian National Farmers Association - found that 27% of Italians celebrate with friends and family; 24% prefer picnics with barbecues or home-made meals; only 9% choose a restaurant. If you choose a picnic, among the traditional dishes you will find rice salad, eggplant “parmigiana”, pasta frittata, and of course the “grigliata”, the Italian barbecue. A beloved option (having a boom in the last 10 years) is the “agriturismo”, a farmhouse in the countryside with organic food, authentic wine, stunning landscapes from the coasts, to the hillside, to the mountains. There are more than 20,000 “agriturismi” all over the nation.



If you pick an agriturismo, you will find local and regional specialties, some of them really (really) weird. For example, if you are lucky enough to spend your Ferragosto in the incredibly charming island of Ischia – in the marvelous Gulf of Naples - you can taste the famous “coniglio all’ischitana”, a rabbit dish sautéed slowly in olive oil, white wine, tomato, onion, garlic, chili pepper, and aromatic herbs.

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