Italy has a busy annual calendar, full of public holidays, celebrations and events. But how do you know what’s what – and, more importantly, how it’ll impact your stay? If you’re planning on visiting Italy over a public holiday, here’s a little look at what you can expect when you’re there.
6 January: Epiphany
Christmas is still a big holiday, but for Italians it’s all about Epiphany. Much like Christmas, Epiphany has its own figure – La Befana, a witch on a broomstick – who visits homes on the eve of Epiphany and leaves gifts for children. 6 January (also known as the 12th day of Christmas) is a day families spend feasting and spending time together.
If you are visiting Italy during Epiphany, you can expect businesses such as post offices and banks to be shut. With regards to transport, taxis and rail services will be running, but trains may be on a shorter service – check times the day before, either online or with your Italy Expert.
Easter Sunday is celebrated with family visits and attending church. Rome, home of the Catholic Church, is a hub of celebrations over the Easter weekend. Last year, I was lucky enough to visit over this period, and even though I had my doubts about how busy it would be, closures and whether it should be avoided, I was pleasantly surprised. Read my Easter break in Rome for more details.
25 April: Liberation Day
Liberation Day is the day when Italians remember the end of World War II. Many cities will hold celebrations, enjoying marching bands, parades and music concerts. The most notable is in Venice, where a procession and festivities take place in St. Mark’s Square. It’s not uncommon to see some of the smaller cities quieter, as many Italian will use today as a chance to head to the coast or mountains for family holidays. Although transport options such as trains and taxis are normally running, you will find shops and banks will tend to be closed on Liberation Day.
1 May: International Workers’ Day/Labour Day
1 May marks International Workers’ Day and a day in the Italian holiday calendar to watch out for – almost everything shut downs for the day, museums and shops included. However, there are many celebrations going on. If you happen to be in Rome over this period, they hold a fantastic concert in Piazza San Giovanni where Italian and international singers perform. The best bit? The concert is free for anyone to attend.
2 June: Festa della Repubblica
As important as Independence Day to Americans, Italians have 2 June to celebrate the institutional referendum of 1946. On this day, the Italians decided to have a republic government instead of a monarchy and to mark the occasion, celebrations happen all over the country each year. Rome is where you want to be – holding the first ever military parade in 1948, today it is still the best place to celebrate (read more about it in our guide to Rome’s Festa della Repubblica).
15 August: Ferragosto/Assumption Day
Assumption Day is one of the most important holidays in the Italian calendar – on a par with Christmas and Easter. It marks the day which Catholics believe God took the body of Mary into heaven. Many local businesses will shut up shop (restaurants and shops will be closed) and again, Italians are likely to head to the coast, so roads are likely to be busy and city-centre businesses closed.
Many cities will see fireworks in the evening on this day, however if you are interested in really seeing what this Italian holiday is all about, head to Tuscany’s Siena. The famous Palio di Siena horse race coincides with Assumption Day – read all about what goes on in our guide to the race.
1 November: All Saints’ Day
Although there are some spooky celebrations dotted around Italy on 31 October (which you can find out more about in our Halloween guide), it’s 1 November which is the big one. All Saints’ Day is a day to celebrate all those who have died for the Christian church. A highly religious day in the Italian calendar, All Saints’ Day will see many businesses closed as Italians attend masses, visit cemeteries and feast with families.
We hope our guide to some of Italy’s popular public holidays will help you in deciding when you will visit (and if your trip already coincides with a public holiday, what to look out for). Last bit of advice – if there is a particular museum or sight you plan on visiting during your trip, speak to your Italy Expert. They will be able to help confirm opening hours and closing times, ensuring there is no chance of you missing out!