Today marks Ferragosto – the biggest celebration of the summer in Italy. It’s a national holiday, which means spending the day relaxing with family and friends, hanging out wherever it’s coolest, whether that’s the mountains or the sea. Of course, on the Amalfi Coast that means the beach! It’s the busiest time of the year on the area’s beaches, where you can enjoy a cool sea breeze and a dip in the Mediterranean. An even better way to stay cool and avoid the crowds? Enjoy the Amalfi Coast by boat! That’s where you’ll find us on these busy summer days – showing off the best of the coast to our fabulous clients!
But just what is this holiday all about? It has a strange sounding name – Ferragosto. The name comes from the Latin expression “Feriae Augusti,” which means “the festivals of Augustus.” And that refers to none other than the Emperor Augustus, who ruled Rome from 27 BC to AD 14. He had the brilliant idea of a late summer celebration in 18 BC, which is when the holiday began. It’s always been hot in Italy in the summer, so a holiday to celebrate the hard work of the planting and harvesting season was a natural fit. Over time the holiday also became associated by the Catholic Church as the day to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
So today you’ll find a two-part aspect to August 15th in Italy – summer fun and religions celebrations. For the most part shops and businesses are all closed in larger cities. In coastal areas like the Amalfi Coast, the opposite is true. While banks and some shops will close, the majority of restaurants and shops remain open since it’s the busiest time of the year in the area. (Locals tend to have their yearly vacation mid winter – the quietest time of the year around here.)
In addition, two towns on the Amalfi Coast have churches dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, which means they celebrate Ferragosto as the biggest religious festival of the year as well. Both Positano and Maiori have large processions and fireworks displays to celebrate the day. While those two towns host the largest events for the day, there are concerts and events going on this evening all up and down the coast to celebrate Ferragosto.
If you’re on the Amalfi Coast today, enjoy the gorgeous weather and festive atmosphere. Wherever you might be today, we’re sending you plenty of Amalfi Coast beauty and sunshine!
(Image Credits: Fireworks over Positano)