The annual holiday has ancient roots and was introduced by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC, signifying a time of rest after the laborious harvest period.
Like many Italian traditions, Ferragosto has since become associated with a religious holiday, but it still symbolises a time of rest and relaxation in modern times.
The event celebrates the middle of the Italian summer and marks the beginning of Italy’s summer holiday period when schools and businesses lock up and people pack their bags for a trip in the countryside or along the coast.
Because most Italians tend to go away during this time, some parts of Italy transform into ghost towns, and you could hear a pin drop in their piazze.
August 15 is a national holiday and government offices, post offices, banks and educational institutions are guaranteed to be closed.
However, many tourists travel to Italy during this period, meaning that - unlike many other public holidays - a large number of museums and cultural sites remain open for the day, while many of the typical tourist attractions will still be booming.
If you’re in search of a unique Ferragosto experience, Rome’s Gran Ballo di Ferragosto fills the capital city’s piazze with live music and exhilarating dance performances.
Moving into Tuscan territory, the medieval town of Montepulciano holds a historical pageant and archaic games, while the famous Palio horse race takes place in Siena on August 16 every year.
Meanwhile in Abruzzo, huge effigies are paraded through the coastal village of Cappelle sul Tavo for the Palio delle Pupe, Pescara’s most ancient festival.
Further south, the Sardinian city of Sassari holds the Festa dei Candelieri, which has its roots in the 16th century and features a parade of giant “candles” around the streets.
Venturing off the beaten track, many small towns and villages hold religious processions in honour of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by fireworks, food and festivities, and you’re sure to stumble across some sort of celebration wherever you go.
If you want to experience the true essence of Ferragosto, pack your bags and head straight to the beach!
Many Italians flock to coastal locations, and while the southern islands of Capri, Sardinia and Sicily are usually packed around this time, you can rest assured that all businesses and restaurants will be open to cater to the influx.
Whatever you decide to do for Ferragosto, make sure you remember to kick back, relax and enjoy – in true Italian style!