Travelers need to be aware of the public holidays in Italy when planning a trip—as one should do when preparing to visit any destination.
On public holidays, museums and other attractions may be closed and transportation schedules are often modified to accommodate reduced commuter demand. In addition, banks, post offices and schools are closed, and many businesses close, adjust their hours, or are short-staffed.
I remember getting off a cruise ship in Brindisi (Puglia) on a public holiday only to find all the stores I hoped to visit were closed for the day. I wished that I had planned better and had chosen to book a shore excursion on that public holiday.
And public holidays can affect travelers beyond a single day. As just one example, while most major museums are open during Easter in Italy, visitors may find crowds lining the streets for parades and religious processions on the Friday and Saturday before Easter—on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Our advice: To avoid inconvenience and disappointment when traveling, it’s always best to check a calendar before planning your trip to find out about public holidays and associated closures so you can plan your visit accordingly.
Aside from national holidays, small regions, provinces and towns in Italy celebrate special days throughout the year. Often, you can learn about these festivities by checking the website of the local tourism bureau.
For example, just yesterday I learned that November 21 is the Feast of the Madonna della Salute in Venice. The day commemorates a terrible plague that led to an epidemic in northern Italy between 1600 and 1631. On this day each year, there are remembrances where thousands pay homage to Mother Mary in Venice and light candles to pray for their health. Other small towns in the region also have festivities on that day.
The 11 public holidays in Italy
There are currently 11 public holidays on the 2024 Italian calendar. Some may coincide with holidays we celebrate at home but others are unique to Italy.
One distinction, however, is that Italians celebrate holidays that fall on a weekend on the actual day rather than on the Monday after as we do in the U.S.
Here is a list of the 2024 public holidays in Italy:
- New Year’s Day – Monday, January 1
- Epiphany – Saturday, January 6
- Easter Monday – Monday, April 1
- Liberation Day – Thursday, April 25
- Labour Day – Wednesday, May 1
- Italian Republic Day – Sunday, June 2
- Ferragosto – Thursday, August 15
- All Saints’ Day – Friday, November 1
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Sunday, December 8
- Christmas Day – Wednesday, December 25
- St. Stephen’s Day – Thursday, December 26
(Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve aren’t official holidays although many people have those days off.)
What might be closed on public holidays
Of course, closures vary by location but here are some of the places that may be closed or have limited opening hours:
- tourist attractions
In addition, be sure to check public transportation schedules which may change.
If you are in Italy on a public holiday, it’s always prudent to check the local newspaper for pertinent information that may affect your travel plans.
Public holidays turn into long weekends
Many Italians (including shopkeepers and restaurant owners) take advantage of public holidays to extend the length of their weekends so they can spend more time with family and friends.
This custom is called “fare il ponte.” The literal translation: “to make a bridge.”
When a holiday falls on a Friday or a Monday, Italians may take a three-day weekend. When a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the ponte can turn into a four-day weekend. Can you blame them?
What is Ferragosto?
Travelers should especially be aware of Ferragosto (the public holiday that falls on August 15th), which celebrates the Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Some Italians treat it as a long weekend; for others, it represents the start of the two-week summer vacation extending throughout the month until September 1.
Traffic may be particularly heavy on the autostradas (highways) during that period.
While most museums and cultural institutions remain open, many family-owned businesses (e.g., restaurants and other shops) close up so owners and workers can head to the beach or visit relatives in other parts of Italy.
Coupling the holiday with the heat, it may be one of the most difficult times of the year to visit Italy.
How to handle Italian holidays when traveling
To each, his own.
Many travelers relish opportunities to observe or participate in authentic experiences like these where they can take part in traditions, immerse themselves with locals, and taste special foods.
Others simply want to know about these holidays to find ways to avoid the crowds and disruptions.
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