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Ferragosto in Italy: the origin of the name and what to do for Ferragosto 2023


Ferragosto in Italy is the name given to 15 August.

For the church, this day coincides with the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, or the direct passage of the mother of Jesus into paradise.

Where does the term ‘Ferragosto’ come from?

The term Ferragosto has quite ancient origins, as it is presumed to be related to the ‘Feriae Augusti’, i.e. the holidays institutionalised by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC.

These holidays, therefore, were a period of rest after the annual agricultural activities and included games and festivities such as horse races.

In more recent times, Ferragosto turns out to be the day, for those not on holiday, of the so-called ‘Gita fuori porta’, instituted in the fascist period with the so-called Ferragosto popular trains.

In fact, in the days leading up to 15 August, reduced fares were offered for those who wanted to spend days in holiday resorts.

Today, we can say that Ferragosto is a real highlight of the year that allows families to get together and have lunch together, a bit like Christmas.

On the other hand, for many it is also the time that marks the end of the holidays and the return to traditional city customs.

So, as we have said, on this day, many families gather in long tables to have lunch together, while others prefer to take the ‘trip out of town’, preferring outings to the mountains, in search of fresh air, while still others prefer to spend the day at the beach.

What to do at Ferragosto?

  • Palio di Siena 16 August 2023

Although not scheduled for Ferragosto (August bank holiday), the Palio di Siena is one of the main attractions of this period.

The Palio is the most important event held in the city of Siena, specifically in Piazza del Campo on 16 August.

The different Sienese contrade compete in an exciting horse race.

Siena is divided into 17 Contrade (districts): Aquila, Bruco, Chiocciola, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Istrice, Leocorno, Lupa, Nicchio, Oca, Onda, Pantera, Selva, Tartuca, Torre, and Valdimontone.

Each contrada is distinguished by a coat of arms, which has unique colours for each contrada and allows people, walking through the streets of Siena, to find out which part of the city they are in.

Click here to find out more


Palio di Siena
Contrade running the 2011 Palio dell’Assunta towards the ropes for a rehearsal,Janus Kinase
  • August 15th in Rimini

If you are in Romagna, you can really have fun and celebrate Ferragosto for almost a week.

It kicks off on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August with Wonderland, videomapping on Castel Sismondo with a mix of lights, colours and evocative sounds.

On 12 August there will be Festivalmar, with its large village dedicated to music, sport, and food.

On 13 August, on the other hand, it is the day of the long-awaited fireworks dedicated to Ferragosto (August 15th) near bathing establishments 112 and 113 in Rivazzurra.

On 14 August it will be the turn of Galactica, the international festival dedicated to electronic music. Also at the Beach Arena on 15 August, Circoloco, the Ibizan party par excellence, returns by popular demand.

  • The Madonna Assunta Procession in Messina

The procession of the Vara of Messina is a beautiful and scenic reconstruction of the absolution of the Virgin in Paradise.

The Vara is a large pyramidal scenic machine over 14 metres high, where at the apex is the coffin of the Virgin ready to ascend to Paradise.

Above the coffin there are angels holding olive branches, with several circles of angels until at the top there is Jesus Christ holding the Alma Mater in the palm of his right hand.

Photo credits Messinatoday
  • Ferragosto in Salento

After a day spent boating in the beautiful Salento area, all you have to do is photograph and Instagram the beautiful Monumental Waterfall of Santa Maria di Leuca, in the province of Lecce.

The waterfall was built about one hundred years ago at the end of the Apulian Aqueduct and strongly desired by Mussolini to celebrate the economic and social efforts employed in the construction of the aqueduct.

The drop is one hundred and twenty metres and the water flow is about one thousand litres per second.

This waterfall is one of the most photographed attractions in Apulia, thanks to the very recent lighting system created to make it an unmissable show.

Cascate di Santa Maria di Leuca
  • Ferragosto in Naples

Moving up the peninsula, we stop in Naples, where of course one cannot miss the many activities put on for the summer holidays.

Naples, labelled as the ‘Gem of Europe’, is packed with visitors these days, and with this in mind, it will be possible to visit the Madre museum or the Palazzo Zevallos for Caravaggio enthusiasts on the occasion of Ferragosto.

In addition, it will be possible to enjoy free performances of the Restate a Napoli, an event sponsored by the City of Naples.

Not to be missed is the Ferragosto walk on Vesuvius, and an exciting visit to the archaeological park of Pompeii.

  • Ferragosto a Torino

We conclude our proposals in Turin, where many museums will remain open for the August bank holiday at truly incredible prices.

As in previous years, in 2023 the Fondazione Torino Musei is offering its visitors reduced admission for €1 to Palazzo Madama, GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderne and MAO – Museo d’Arte Orientale.

Per maggiori info consulta https://www.guidatorino.com/eventi-torino/ferragosto-2023-torino-musei-1-euro/

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