Gita Italiana 2010: Taking a Break, Italian Style

Today’s featured Gita Italiana writer is Julie Angelos of Jbulie’s Blog, who gives us a little background on what happens in August in Italy and a few ideas on where to go.

Welcome Julie!

Taking A Break, Italian Style

Ferie d’Agosto (Ferragosto) is an Italian national holiday on August 15th when all stores are closed and most people head to the coasts or the mountains.

The actual date happens to coincide with my best friend’s birthday so it makes it easy for me to remember. I was actually shocked and surprised my first year living in Italy that nearly ALL of Italy closes for August. I don’t mean all of August, just that almost ALL Italians take a holiday in August somewhere.

I’m certain that this is due to the heat and the fact that schools are closed. I did a little investigative research the first year I moved here by asking my Italian friends where and when they were going. What I got was all over the world that included Thailand, Mexico, the coast, Sardinia, Sicily, U.S.A, France, England ~ just about anywhere actually.

Most Italians take a couple weeks of vacation from 10 days to as much as 60. Well, I took 58. Does that count? I’m also known to go overboard. Unfortunately, airline prices rise accordingly making the high season tickets double the low season fares.

Bologna by B A M S H A D on Flickr

Bologna by B A M S H A D on Flickr

I live just outside of Bologna which is an hour north of Florence, and a couple hours by train or car south of Venice and Milan. It’s considered northern Italy, although I feel like it’s quite centrally located. I remember reading somewhere that ninety percent of trains in Italy pass through Bologna.

In August, the streets become suddenly empty. All of the stores pull down their rolling metallic doors to lock them up. The newspaper prints an article on the stores that are OPEN instead of closed. Transport is limited or toned down. Car traffic is pretty grueling.

Where to go?

My favorite getaways in Italy are Venice, Florence, Assisi, the Lakes and Cinque Terre. A lot of people like to go up to the mountains to get away from the heat. I lived a year in Florence and that city still is on my top beautiful cities in the world together with Paris and San Francisco.

Florence Duomo by Michela Simoncini on Flickr

Florence Duomo by Michela Simoncini on Flickr

Maybe you have heard about Stendhal’s syndrome?

What happens is this: you are walking through one of the most magnificent historic city centers in the world when all of a sudden a small square opens up to reveal the big beautiful cathedral called the Duomo with its glorious cappello designed by Brunelleschi. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but for me and my friends it was a jaw-dropping experience.

I felt I was looking at all of humanity’s compassion and ability wrapped in pretty tri-colored marble ribbon. Don’t get me wrong, there is no bow or ribbon on the Duomo; it’s just a metaphor to describe a pretty present left to posterity. One word of caution, though: one year while walking around Florence in August, my girlfriend refused to come with me. Too hot, she said. She might have been right.

Wherever you decide to travel in August, I like to remember that it’s always nice to get away, yet it’s always nice to come back home too.


Julie Angelos is a teacher and writer who moved to Italy on a whim when she was 30 and still lives here with her husband and two sons. You can find her at Jbulie’s blog and @jbuliesblog on Twitter.

7 Beans of Wisdom to “Gita Italiana 2010: Taking a Break, Italian Style”
  1. Gil

    Everyone deserves to take two months off every now and then especially teachers with their hectic work schedule!

    Agreed, Gil!

  2. 08.21.2010

    Hi Julie,

    Loved your post 🙂

    This is what I love about living in Italy actually, the lifestyle includes lots of vacations 🙂 It’s the same in France. When I lived in Paris August was always the quietest time of the year because everyone went on vacation.

    Enjoy the rest of August! 10 more days of relaxation…

    Ciao! Keren

    I need to get more like Italians with this vacation thing….

  3. saretta

    The longer the vacation, the more painful the return to the grind. At least that’s how it feels to me! 😉

    I tend to agree with you…it’s *so* easy for me to get used to having no plans and free time 🙂

  4. Hey! Great new layout. It’s so comprehensive since I know you manage many sites and blogs. Well done.

    Thanks for publishing this article. I’m happy if your readers like it. I’ll be publishing some new pictures on my facebook account tomorrow as we just got back from a week in the Alps.

    Have a nice one. Any questions are welcome.

    Thanks so much for contributing Julie, and thanks for you kind words 🙂

  5. 08.21.2010

    I love your description of beng knocked out by the Duomo, Julie! I remember standing in front of the Baptistry doors and the overwhelming beauty came to me right there…had to head back to hotel and nap!
    ALSO, being in Florence during a June heat wave and if you touched the stone buildings you could burn your hands! All part of the magic…

    Oooh great tip, Susan…don’t touch the stone in a heat wave 😉 Thanks for coming by!

  6. 08.21.2010

    Love Florence. Love that breathtaking walk to see the Duomo. I might agree with your friend about Florence in August, though. Thanks for the post!

    Haha, I think I’m in agreement on the August thing too 😉

  7. 08.22.2010

    Thanks Michelle and Julie. I love the fact that Italians and Italy still take the month of August so seriously in regards to it being a holiday month. Oh and Julie if you consider that you do not live in northern Italy but central, where does that place me, just north of Roma? Southern central maybe?

    That may literally put us in Africa down here! 😉



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