Ferragosto holiday in Rome

Rome shuts up shop for Ferragosto on 15 August.

Each year Italy marks the national holiday of Ferragosto on 15 August, the feast of the Assumption, the day when Catholics believe the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life.

The origins of Italy's Ferragosto, however, date back to Roman times, with the Feriae Augusti introduced as a period of rest by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC.

In the modern-day capital Ferragosto means a virtual exodus of Romans as well as the closure of public offices and family-run businesses, restaurants, bars and shops, although larger supermarkets are usually open, at least for a few hours in the morning.

Traditionally Rome residents escape the Ferragosto heat by heading to the beach or the mountains, while those left behind enjoy the city's peaceful streets and parks, the traffic-free roads and the simple joy of finding a parking place with ease.

Many of the city's museums remain open, including the Colosseum, with the Baths of Caracalla and Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM) opening for free. However the Vatican Museums will be closed on both 14 and 15 August.

Rome's public transport network will be operating to a reduced "festivi" timetable, with the Metro A, B and C open from 05.30 until 23.30. Commuters should also note that the central stretch of the Metro A line will be closed for works from 14-19 August.

For those interested in cooking the traditional Ferragosto meal of Pollo alla Romana, here is our recipe.

Wanted in Rome wishes all its readers a very happy Ferragosto.