What is Ferragosto in Italy?

What is Ferragosto in Italy?

Aug 15, 2021Donatella Mulvoni

Grab your picnic baskets and get some friends together. Let's celebrate the most fun and carefree of Italian holidays


Ferragosto meaning

It is August 15, and every Italian knows that it means: Festa! Ferragosto was included in the ancient Roman summer celebrations. The name comes from the old Latin Feriae Augusti (the solemn celebrations of Emperor Augustus, first Roman emperor), introduced in 18 BC. In the Christian era, the Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. Today, this mid-summer holiday sums both influences: ancient Roman and Catholic. Ferragosto has a strong tradition of historical games like the renowned Palio in Siena, Italy's most famous horse race, held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16.


Ferragosto fireworks on the Amalfi Coast

If you are among the lucky ones who spend August 15 on the divine Amalfi Coast, you will enjoy the unique spectacle of fireworks over the sea. On the Amalfi Coast, indeed, Ferragosto celebrates Virgin Mary and local saints with fabulous fireworks. The ones in Positano and Minori are outstanding. If you are in the area, don't forget to try the typical "melanzane al cioccolato," eggplants covered with chocolate. Don't be scared by this strange combination! They are delicious!


Everything you need to know for a perfect Ferragosto

Ferragosto is a celebration of summer. Mainly, it is the height of the Italian summer season and opens a week of break for many Italians. They leave for the sea, mountains, or also lakes. Ferragosto, therefore, is the best time to visit Italy's art cities because they usually remain empty and peaceful.


Ferragosto cuisine

Today the tradition includes bonfires, and of course, grigliata (barbecue) or picnics with family and friends. The tipical “pranzo di Ferragosto” is a tribute to summer. The dishes are primarily fresh and simple. If you happen to spend Ferragosto in Rome, you will undoubtedly taste the delicious slow-cooked chicken with sweet peppers. If instead, you are in Tuscany, you will find on your table the typical Panzanella, the rustic bread salad with tomatoes (better if heirloom), onion, basil, stale bread, and a generous portion of extra virgin olive oil. Another summery Ferragosto dish is rice-stuffed beefsteak tomatoes. The tomato is scooped, filled with tomato pulp, and cooked rice seasoned with garlic, basil, and herbs; then, the stuffed tomato is cooked in the oven. No mid-August lunch or dinner doesn't end with a juicy slice of watermelon. In Sicily, it is used to prepare the famous "gelu," a watermelon jelly pudding. This Sicilian summer dessert is served for the Feast of Saint Rosalie and Assumption Day, on August 15.

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