August, as you may of heard, is a month in which many Italian businesses close. It is a phenomena that plagues local expats, tourists and observers of il bel paese. Many say: “Why close during one of the busiest summer months of the tourist season?”
In reality, part of the month-long break surrounds the Ferragosto holiday, which falls on August 15th, but the largest rationale goes back to culture and the quintessential Italian “tradition” of enjoying life.
Most people also wonder about why there is a 2-3 hour pause in the middle of the day as well, as that could be a great time to make some sales! But it’s not just all about relishing free time and eating long lunches with the family – it’s rooted in practicality.
You see, before fans and air conditioning, many people largely held jobs that required a significant amount of physical activity. So, it made more sense from a point of view of productivity to close during the warmest hours of the day (usually 1pm-4pm).
Likewise, August typically being the hottest month of the year, it makes more sense to close up than to work in extreme heat, and take the opportunity to cool down with friends and family at the seaside.
And even if nowadays we have these modern conveniences like air conditioners, Italians still take these weeks to enjoy the seaside, life, and community. But if you are on vacation in Italy during August, you might find yourself extremely disappointed if you want to eat out at great restaurants only to find them closed for the month.
Here are some suggestions for where to eat in Italy during August:
This is a rustic Italian restaurant that is known by locals for its consistently good pizza baked in a wood fired oven in one of Milan’s trendiest districts on Corso di Porta Ticinese. Reviews also suggest some of their first courses and the house special calzone called “Il Calzun del Ticines” filled with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula, and buffalo milk cheeses.
C.so di Porta Ticinese, 6520123 Milan, Italy
Traveling with a group of friends and looking for a hip aperitivo with a large buffet? This is a great choice for your aperitivo in Milan during August.
In all fairness, it will not be difficult to find an aperitivo bar open in August in Milan, but I particularly like this bar due to its large indoor and outdoor seating options, as well as some fairly good options from the buffet during the summer, such as spaghetti with clams, octopus and potato salad, cold cuts, fresh summer fruit platters, and more.
Via San Vito 520123 Milan, Italy
(Tip: head to the neighborhoods such as the Navigli, Corso di Porta Ticinese and Brera for good bets to enjoy some very authentic bars and restaurants open during August.)
For some superb Roman pizza and finger food like supli, head to Pizzarium to sample all the various squared pizza by the slice, which have a huge variety of seasonal gourmet toppings.
Via della Meloria 4300136 Rome, Italy
If you’d like a fine dining splurge when in the eternal city of Rome during August, this 5-star restaurant will blow your mind and not just your cash. The chef’s tasting menu is pricey, but when considering the wine pairings are included and thoughtfully chosen for you, it’s a worthwhile experience for the food and wine fanatic.
Via Giovanni Antonelli 3000197 Rome, Italy
Nestled on a side street just steps from the Duomo, lies a gastronomic oasis. It has a very fresh and contemporary atmosphere, with a slight feel of being an oasis away from the large tourist scene (albeit being a stone’s throw from the city’s most frequented landmark). Don’t miss the fresh pastas, appetizer platters, and the staff’s wine pairing suggestions.
Via dell’Oche 15R 50122 Florence, Italy
Another bonus: it’s on the same street as the world-famous gelateria, GROM.
The top floor of Florence’s Central Market (Mercato Central in San Lorenzo) has recently been renovated as a sort of modern food hall, and it offers a wide array of restaurants to choose from, including pasta bars, the authentic pizzeria “Sud,” a full beer and wine bar, meat and cheese-mongers, a food stand that sells fresh, tasty mozzarella plates, and much more.
Via dell’Ariento 10 50100 Florence, Italy