Why does Italy close for August?

How does the entire country of Italy and most of Europe shut down in August? It is a shock to many North Americans when they hear that offices and businesses are closed entirely for this extended period. However, this tradition, at least in Italy, stems back to Roman times.

The Ferragosto Holiday stems back to a celebration of the festival of Emperor Augustus. The holiday was initially a day of rest for all the field workers after weeks of hard work on the farms. In the Renaissance period, this holiday was moved to align with the Assumption of Mary on August 15th. The government in Italy has used this holiday for the past 2000 years to celebrate workers, provide activities such as discounted rail travel, fireworks, and parades, and generally, have allowed people time off to celebrate with family and friends, typically over a grill!

Today, many office and factory workers will leave the cities for the beaches to relax. Special menus are prepared for the holiday, many specific to regional cuisines. In the North and Tuscany, roasted pigeons with rice, sausage, and porcini mushrooms may be found. In Naples, you may find frittata di maccheroni. In Rome, chicken and peppers. And in our hometown of Venice, you will find grilled fish from the lagoon, watermelon and wine, heavy crowds, and fireworks!

From a business operations standpoint, most offices and factories close for two weeks around the holiday. Around that two-week closure, production facilities, such as glass-making and machine shops, use that time to run inventories and deep clean operations that have been running since the new year. Upon returning from the holiday, facilities generally take a few days to return to full operations.

Our Italian offices will be closed now until the end of August while our North American office remains open and fully operational. We have significant product inventory in our New Jersey warehouse to keep service and orders moving.