If you’ve ever had the misfortune of traveling to Florence (or Rome, or Milan) at about this time of year you’ll see all the CHUISO signs on front doors. Why? Because the whole country pretty much goes on vacation from August 15th (unless you work in tourism, then you’re just sweating it out with your apron and waiting until November). Yup, it’s Ferragosto and that means many Italians are Out-of-Office and at the beach. Beach activities and beach accommodation triple in price and intensity around this time. Here are my recommendations for what to do in August in Italy.
POST ON YOUR DREAMBOARD
I wish everyone could experience a long Italian summer. People poo-poo Italy in August but I’ve had beautiful August days and I want you to have them, too. If you know you’ll be in Italy during August, you need to be organized and book many months in advance for the best accommodations in the seaside type places. Typical summer destinations are of course anything on the Riviera (like Cinque Terre, Portofino) and anything on an Italian Island (like Ischia, Sardinia). I’ve spent glorious weeks on the Aeolian Islands — my daughter has these memories ingrained in her childhood. We went on an otherworldly boat tour at night and watched flares of fire shoot into the inky sky as we bobbed off the island of Stromboli (which is an active volcano). My rec is to book 2 weeks, somewhere on the sea. Don’t move around too much and just take the days as they come (but make bookings 6 months in advance for hotels or villas). Go for a seaside villa with friends and family — something close to a town where you can wander barefoot and let your salty hair down.
Image credit: Leela Cyd
My fave summer meal is street food. I don’t want to sit in a stuffy restaurant, I like to eat at the beach clubs. But when I’m not at the beach, I just love to eat takeout in the shade of the piazza. The classic street food in my “home province” of Liguria is focaccia. Liguria is the region of Italy that’s below France and above Tuscany. It’s a slender sliver of land right on the ocean. Focaccia is served in every town along the coast in the summer (and buying focaccia is an art — you need to know all the flavors). Here’s a video from many summers ago with my daughter and me shopping in Levanto.
Image Credit: Leela Cyd
WHAT WE’RE LOVING RIGHT NOW
In August, eat at the beach club. Don’t get picky, because in August, whatever you can get that wasn’t reserved 2 months ago will do. (Italians are very much into reserving, which leaves you out of luck if you have not. Go early when they open and get your spot.) I absolutely love the energy of the beach clubs in Italy and I also love that you can happily spend an entire day under the umbrellas, playing cards, swimming, eating … and you never have to move or go get anything because everything is supplied. Shade. Water. Food. Music. Gelato. Cocktails. You can start at lunch and stay for sunset. Maybe I’ll pull myself away when the kids get cranky from too much sugar and I’ve collected another 100 freckles on my shoulders. Beach clubs in Italy serve very basic fare, and I usually opt for a Caprese. Sometimes a panino. Like camping, food just tastes better when you’re in the moment.
Image Credit: Leela Cyd
WISH YOU WERE HERE
With friends. These were taken a few years ago but my idea was “summer gathering” and “Italian island” and I invited my friends to get together. Gathering is good — where will you gather next?
Image Credit: Stefano Butturini
With fun + focaccia