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Don’t Be Afraid to Visit Italy in August

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I’ve been talking to people who are deciding at the last minute to visit Italy this summer. For a number of reasons (like the school schedule), their schedules only allow them to visit Italy in August. Many of them have heard horror stories about how the whole country goes on vacation, there’s no one left to cater to the visitors and it is too hot. Don’t worry, August is still a great time to visit Italy.

Crowded summer beach in Italy (photo by Roberto Ferrari)

Crowded summer beach in Italy (photo by Roberto Ferrari)

The average Italian citizen gets 42 days of vacation per year. It is true that most Italians take at least a week or two off each August, and many are on vacation for the entire month. Businesses shut their doors for all or part of this vacation period. In fact, the productivity of the entire country takes a dive during the eighth month of the year. But Italy is very much an economy dependent on tourism and there are plenty of shops and restaurants open in all of the major cities. The major sites keep regular hours in August as well.

In fact, one of my most enjoyable visits to Rome was during the month of August. The streets were empty (half of the city’s population leaves town each August). It is the only time I was brave enough to drive in the Eternal City since there were fewer cars. All of the major sites were open and enough shops and restaurants to have plenty of choices. Because Rome is a major international capital, it must keep chugging along, even in August, but you can still enjoy it at a much slower pace.

I would be much more cautious in advising a beach vacation say in Sicily or Sardinia during the month of August as generally hotel rooms are at their most expensive (if you can get a reservation – some book up a year in advance) and the beaches are crowded. This can be the ideal time to visit Italy’s inland hill towns, especially in the south. Southern Italians who left their villages for work in the north or even to move to the United States often return home in August. The streets come alive with summer festivals and the evening passeggiata is even more lively, and the weather in the hills is lovely.

And in terms of hot, well, for many years I lived in Washington, DC and I can assure you that the summer heat and humidity were far more brutal during a DC summer than during August in Italy. It all depends on where you are coming from…

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About Kathy McCabe

Kathy is the founder of the award-winning subscription travel newsletter Dream of Italy, and a noted Italy travel expert. Kathy’s travel advice has been quoted in USA TODAY, BusinessWeek, U.S. News + World Report and on ABC News, among others. Follow Kathy and Dream of Italy on Facebook and Twitter.