The Ferragosto Feast was created by Augustus in 18 B.C. (feriae Augusti- Augustus' rest) to celebrate the harvest and the end of the main agricultural tasks and it lasted all the month; the main feast was dedicated to Diana on August 13th. This was one of the few occasions during which slaves and Romans were allowed to join together.
With the Christianity, Diana celebration became the Mary's Assumption Feast and this is what we still celebrate today.
Being a national holiday Ferragosto in Italy means every single shop or firm is absolutely closed. We don't work on this day (apart from the poor Restaurants owners especially in the most touristic cities) and if you will visit Italy during this day you will find out cities are simply EMPTY. Everybody going to have a pic nic (a tradition is the Ferragosto barbecue) and spend this day along with the family and friends far from the cities.
But as Italians descend from Romans, all the month is a rest one in Italy. Many companies and shops stay closed during the Ferragosto week (and often also the week before or after), so don't get upset if in this period you won't find all the services you was hoping to.
We, the Roman Empire descendants, need our good rest after the year's efforts. After all, we deserve it, right?
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