August 15 is Ferragosto.
It’s a uniquely Italian holiday. Started, we think, by Roman Emperor Augustus in 18BC as a day to celebrate Augustus’ rest.
These days, it’s probably one of the country’s most beloved holidays, and one most Italians use to explore their country or soak up the sun at the beach.
Things in Italy grind to a halt in the two weeks that include Ferragosto. It can be a pain in the bum for people like me who are trying to renovate a house with contractors on vacation, but that’s another story!
If you don’t have any pending building works and are lucky enough to be in Italy for Ferragosto 2015, here are my top picks for celebrating the day with good food, good company and plenty of festive music!
TOP PICK: Palio Marinaro dell’Argentario, Porto Santo Stefano
While Porto Santo Stefano hosts are range of cultural and religious-themed events throughout the year, none of them are quite like the Palio Marinaro.
A palio is a cloth or banner that is presented to the winner of a race, in this case, a boat race. This palio has been run in Porto Santo Stefano since 1937. It pits four boats, one to represent each ancient quartiere (district) of Porto Santo Stefano, against each other. The entire town comes alive with the colours of the districts and the stands set up along the side of the race course are absolutely packed to the brim with people cheering on their team.
For more info: check out the official palio website
Festambiente, Rispecia, Grosseto, from 5:30pm:
The Maremma’s biggest eco-festival continues in Grosseto. Enjoy kids activities, adult workshops, political debates, artisan and eco-friendly stalls, yoga classes, organic food and a film festival.
From 10:30pm, Caparezza in Museica will be performing on the main stage with a blend of music and theatre. Tickets are €8 before 8pm and €12 afterwards.
Check out the official website for details.
After the day at the beach, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of Ferragosto than at a traditional sagra or food festival. The food is cheap and the atmosphere genuine! Here are the best:
Sagra della Ficamaschia Dorata: A food festival dedicated to the humble pilchard in Porto Ercole.
Petricci in Festa: A folk festival and musical event in Petricci.
Sagra del Tortello: At Casotto Pescatori in Grosseto, try the Maremma’s national dish: tortelli or big ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta.
Sagra dell’Etrusco: A really unusual food festival in Pitigliano dedicated to the great feasts of the Etruscans.
Sagra della Bistecca: Montieri serves up great grilled steaks for a steal.
Sagra dello Zafferano: At Marsiliana. This incredible celebration of locally grown saffron is a chance to try the seriously expensive spice interpreted in affordable and classic pasta and risotto dishes.