The month of August marks a drastic change in cities across the Italian peninsula as Italians take respite in cooler destinations and celebrate Ferragosto on August 15th of each year. The holiday has ancient pagan origins from the first century with Emporer Augustus as a holiday to celebrate the end of harvest. Today the summer period stretches as early as july and well into september to give businesses and government agencies the possibility to schedule vacations for employees. During this period expect changes to regular operating hours and slower responses to requests.
In this article, we’ll cover the following themes about Ferragosto:
- What is Ferragosto?
- What museums in Rome are closed for Ferragosto?
- What museums are open for Ferragosto?
- What is there to do in Rome during Ferragosto?
- How to beat the heat if you visit Rome during Ferragosto
What is Ferragosto?
Ferragosto is a summer holiday celebrated in Italy on August 15th. It’s origins date back to 18 BC with emperor Augustus as a time to celebrate the end of harvest. It also coincides with the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary, making it a holy day of obligation. In modern Italy, Ferragosto is often celebrated as a long weekend, extending even for several weeks, as Italians take off and leave the city, recollect, and spend time with family and friends.
Expect the center of the city to be dearth of locals and streets filled primarily with tourists. Many restaurants will have “chiuso per ferie” signs on their doors, indicating that the family’s packed up and headed out of town. It’s a peculiar time of year to visit Rome. The long days fade into the night with striking sunsets, and the usually bustling city is reduced to a low murmur. There’s less traffic, the metro and buses are empty, and for a few weeks the lack of chaos will almost make you feel alone in the city.
So if you’re planning your itinerary in Rome around the middle of August, the best piece of be flexible. To help you, here’s a list of the museums that will be open and closed in Rome and beyond for Ferragosto, as well as a few events to check out.
What Museums in Rome are closed for Ferragosto?
The following museums are closed for the Ferragosto Holiday:
- Vatican Museums: closed August 14th and 15th
- Palazzo del Quirinale
- National Gallery of Ancient Art – Palazzo Corsini
- Museum of via Ostiense
- Explora Children’s Museum on Via Flaminia
- Casina di Raffaello
What Museums in Rome are open for Ferragosto?
- Capitoline Museums
- Villa Medici
- Roman and Palatine Forum
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Galleria Borghese (required reservations for 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm)
- Palazzo Barberini
- Galleria Doria Pamphilj
- Palazzo Massimo
- Palazzo Altemps
- Baths of Diocletian
- Baths of Caracalla
- MAXXI (open until 7pm)
What is there to do in Rome during Ferragosto?
While Ferragosto will have the greatest impact on businesses that cater to a traditionally Italian target the most reliable activities will be those that follow the crowds – like a day trip to the beach or a picnic in the park.
Take a day trip outside Rome to Villa d’Este in Tivoli or hop on the regional train to Castel Gandolfo for either a day by the lake or to see the Barberini gardens and take lunch in the shade of the Pope’s summer residence.
Take a self guided tour of the best gelato in Rome, the tastiest way to see some of the less tourist-crowded parts of the city. If gelato isn’t necessarily your thing, there are several cool Italian treat alternatives to ice cream.
When the day cools off in the evening, head to any number of outdoor theaters in Rome where massive screens will project Italian and international titles.
How to beat the heat if you’re visiting Rome during Ferragosto
We put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts for beating the heat in Rome:
Do: Remember a hat, sunglasses & sunscreen. If you’ll be outside for much of the day, consider bringing an umbrella for shade.
Don’t: Don’t dress too much for the weather. All churches require covered shoulders and modest-length dresses and shorts. Just in case, bring a light scarf you can quickly throw over your shoulders or around your waist if someone questions your attire at the door.
Do: Wear comfortable, open walking shoes – comfort over fashion!
Don’t: Plan to climb the dome at St. Peter’s in the middle of the day. The path is a narrow corridor with little ventilation which get’s hot and stuffy during the hottest hours of the day!
Do: Water bottle for filling up at the nasoni water fountains
Don’t: Plan any strenuous activity in the middle of the day (e.g. bike tour)
Do: Plan on visiting several churches or book a museum tour during the heat of the day (from 11am to 3pm). These places, whether they have air-conditioning or not, are always cool for their stone interiors.
We also put together a list of 12 things to pack for your summer vacation in Rome that you probably didn’t think about!
Explore the best rates for a vacation rental in Rome during Ferragosto
Browse our ongoing special offers for vacation rentals in Rome. For over a decade ROMAC has welcomed visitors from all over the world to Rome with comfortable, modern accommodations strictly in the center of Rome. Browse all of the apartments and use filters to narrow your search by neighborhood, price, number of guests, and amenities – like vacation rentals with air conditioning, which is important for a trip to Rome during Ferragosto!
Have you visited Rome during Ferragosto? Share your experiences in the comments below!