Ferragosto is an ancient Roman holiday called “Feriae Augusti”, the holiday season inaugurated by the Roman emperor Augustus in the year 18 BC. Originally it was celebrated on August 1 but was shifted to August 15 by the Catholic church to co-incide with the feast Assumption of Mary.
Feriae as a plural noun indicates that not just one day is taken off but rather a longer period. This is why traditionally summer holidays in Italy take place in August which is the month of emperor Augustus.
Just like Lunedì dell’Angelo (Easter Monday), Ferragosto in Italy means savoring the season, spending day and night outdoors. We celebrate with outdoor dinners, beach BBQ (grigliate in spiaggia) and fireworks (fuochi d’artificio).
You could also celebrate Ferragosto from another perspective. With the colors of the Lagoon getting clearer and more intense from mid-August, benefit from walks in town off the beaten path and savor typical Ferragosto food. If you’re in Venice right nowthat’s what we recommend that you do and see.
Venezia sotto le stelle cadenti Watch the falling stars over Venice. Ferragosto time really starts with La Notte di San Lorenzo in Italy. From 10 August for a few days you can watch the falling stars above the Lagoon and the island of Pellestrina and get to know the Nature Oasis Ca’ Roman by night on 11 August. Click here to see the program.
Discover the life of Marco Polo Speaking of San Lorenzo … it’s an ancient convent in town founded in 823 AD by the Partecipazio Family in the midst of the ancient Levantine Quarter of Venice next to Rio dei Greci. Marco Polo and his family (father and uncle) are said to be buried here, not so far from their home at San Giovanni Crisostomo in Corte de’ Milion. Did you know that Teatro Malibran was built exactly where Marco Polo’s birth house was located ?
Savor Ferragosto Food Can you see how colorful food is these days ? Venetians love warm pasta salads made from herbs and zucchine, melanzane and spicy peppers (frigitelli). Granseola is another Venetian sea food favorite for this big summer holiday.
Or what about a water melon-almond gelato mousse – so refreshing as you’ll discover in our next post.
Eat a dessert Marco Polo would have known well I’m so happy that there are restaurants in Venice taking up the tradition of dishes of the past. Bistro de Venise is one of them. You could try one of their spiced summer desserts, enjoying woodberry desserts made in the ancient Venetian manner it in their cool outside restaurant.
Enjoy breakfast in Piazza San Marco Yes, that’s possible despite the summer onslaught of tourists. Come around 8:30 and choose one of the Grandi Caffé to capture your summer morning dream in Venice. It will be highly rewarding and refreshing for the arcades surrounding Piazza San Marco are surprisingly cool.