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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ferragosto : an Italian day of fun and traditions.

Today, August 15th in Italy we celebrate Ferragosto. It is an Italian National holiday that combines both its ancient Roman and Catholic roots. Ferragosto also marks the semi-official start of Italy's summer holiday season.

It’s the day Roman Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the virgin Mary into Heaven - the day when Catholics believe Mary ascended to heaven "body and soul" after the end of her life on earth.
However, it was a holiday in Italy long before it took on a religious significance.
Ferragosto comes from the Latin Feriae Augusti (the festivals of the Emperor Augustus) which were introduced back in 18 BC, probably to celebrate a battle victory, and were celebrated alongside other ancient Roman summer festivals. These festivities were linked to the longer Augustali period - intended to be a period of rest after months of hard labour.

Most of the Italian cities on Ferragosto are much quieter than usual. It’s traditional to use the August long weekend to take a trip, usually escaping the heat at the seaside, lakes or mountains.
During the era of Fascism, the regime would organize trips with special offers for the 13th-15th August, the idea being that the less wealthy social classes would get the opportunity to visit a different part of the country, and even today there are often discounts on packages for the Ferragosto weekend.
On Ferragosto even in major towns and cities, everything from bank to post offices to public transport are closed. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Ferragosto  also mark the start of Italy's holiday season, meaning you'll see 'chiuso per ferie' signs popping up all over the place.
However, unlike many other public holidays, on Ferragosto many museums and cultural sites remain open. So it’s an excellent time to visit major attractions such as the Colosseum, Pantheon of Galleria Borghese if you’re in the capital, or one of the many museums and sites across the rest of the country.
If you decide not to visit one of those cultural sites, there's still plenty to do on Ferragosto. 

Many towns, have processions carrying statues of the Virgin Mary through the Centre of their cities and the churches will have special services marking the Assumption.
If you're in Rome not to miss id the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto with live music and dancing in the piazza. 
Streets, squares, corners, alleys—anywhere with a square meter will set up an amp and some speakers and take its position as one of the hundreds of ambassadors of the Gran Ballo. 

Every square has something different to offer, from the most grandma-disapproved hip hop to honest-to-goodness country line-dancing.  Larger squares will host dance performances all day, starting with local after-school programs and getting more and more professional (or absurd) as the sun goes down.  
Most importantly, this massive dance party’s theme is participation, so if you hit the streets, you’d better be ready to get your own personal dance on.
and a new tradition for the city of Pavia that is also hosting its own version this year. 
Many coastal towns will hold fireworks displays in the evenings. And this year is set to be sunny wherever you are in the country, so you can take advantage of the quieter streets to explore.

Buon Ferragosto a tutti,



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