According to my pocket Italian / English dictionary, the definition for Ferragosto is:-

Ferragosto takes place in Italy anywhere between the 1st and the 31th of August,  plumbers, electricians, butchers and anybody else that you need on a day to day basis or may need in a crisis, leave town and either head to the mountains or the seaside for 1 to 31 days. It is not uncommon for towns and villages to become temporary ghost towns.




Last year on the 17th of August our boiler decided to go into meltdown. Mrs Sensible contacted our landlord and asked if she could organise a plumber. Ten minutes later, the landlady phoned back and told us the plumber was on holiday until the 28th of August, she added is Pecora Nera any good with boilers.

Mrs S asked me if I knew anything about boilers, I said, I understood they blow up if you don’t know what you are doing and poke around inside them. Mrs S then broke the news to me that we would be taking cold showers for the rest of the month; unless I knew how to fix the boiler. So armed with a screwdriver a large hammer and wearing some overalls I went to have a look at our boiler.

Boiler suit for messing with boilers

Safety overalls for use when messing with boilers

I stuck one finger in one ear and holding my screwdriver at arms length I poked and played with things I really didn’t have a clue about. After 30 minutes of cursing the boiler and the plumber who was sat on some beach drinking pina colada I gave up. Mrs S phoned the landlady and said I had failed miserably and was there any other plumbers in Italy? The landlady said she would send her husband. It was at this point that I decided I needed to be somewhere else, maybe at my favorite bar which I had calculated would be outside the blast range or maybe better still on a flight to England.

My favorite bar is outside the blast range

My favorite bar is outside the blast range

The landlady’s husband turned up with his own screwdriver and an even bigger hammer than the one I was holding. He poked about inside the boiler, he hit delicate bits of pipe with his hammer and explained to me what he thought was wrong with the boiler. I didn’t understand a word he was saying, not only because I don’t understand Italian but by this time I was stood with fingers in both of my ears just in case the boiler decided to go boom.


When at risk of blowing up, always place your fingers in your ears

When at risk of blowing up, always place your fingers in your ears

And then miraculously, the boiler hissed, farted and started working. We decided to celebrate by drinking a glass or two of grappa.


So if your boiler breaks down, or your cooker starts smoking during August drop me a line and I will send you the landlady’s husband.

The boiler expert saying hello to Donna our workaway from last year or was it the year before

The boiler expert saying hello to Donna our workaway from last year or was it the year before

I have been informed that our crazy group of expats bloggers (COSI Group), are having a Google Hangout Q&A session at 13:00 EST, 19:00 in Italy on Sunday the 3rd of August.  I haven’t a clue how to do this but I will try to be there with a glass of wine in my hand.

Please go to my COSI  page and follow the links to other bloggers from COSI who are uploading their thoughts on Ferragosto



53 thoughts on “Ferragosto

  1. I read an article in the Telegraph yesterday about this. Apparently, the English are now doing the same and trotting off to the Old Continent or Barbados for the month of August. Must say, it has its attractions – unless you work in tourism during the period, of course!

    Nice overalls. Aren’t those what Italians wear when the mercury dips below 20c? Brrrrrrrrrrrr!!!


      • Too bad you don’t have the workaways there now. They could have palm frond fans to wave to keep the mosquitoes away from you.
        Of course Mrs. S may not have gone away and left you alone with them for long.
        You need another cat to keep you company (and to torment you ) while she is away. I have a big black one here that I could probably box up and ship.
        On second thought, he would be sorely missed by all of us who have been feeding him for years.


  2. You couldn’t get away with that here – so many regulations and certifications (which equal eye watering bills) are necessary. God forbid a non registered plumber should dare to tinker with the boiler – the warranty is null and void…are you off anywhere for the entire month of August?


  3. my dear Pecora Nera–I have decided that I desperately need some clarification. You are a relatively young chap are you not? Perhaps what we refer to here in the States as able bodied? You keep mentioning workaways—past and present, and somehow I believe they will be there in the future. At first I thought, I supposed these workaways to be perhaps some sort of exchange student. Students from the US and UK who were in Italy to study and would work perhaps during holiday in order to earn some spending money by helping with various chores around ones house/ farm even to assisting with babysitting (as in your case of poor Scooby Do) . . .but then I noticed these workaways of yours are all women— appearing to be young pretty woman might I add. Such hires here in the US usually refer to a similar expression of “working girls”—as in women of the night—capiche??
    Now tell me my little blackened sheep—what exactly is your explanation of a workaway. . .? eh???


    • I think you should go and look at the workaway site to understand the concept properly. Donna would be offended if she thought you had called her a woman of the night. We have hosted around 10 workaways including 2 guys. Thank you for calling me young… in the morning when I look in the mirror I sometimes feel very old


      • Please!!!! no offense to the workways–but know that it is a term not familiar here and your images are not exactly of work, but of good times indeed 🙂
        and to be honest, I have decided that I should probably be a workaway–taking me from my drudgeaway days here to some much needed and missed time in Italy—and I do believe you are considerably younger than myself–you are therefore young 🙂 and I am but young at heart—
        apologies to any and all workaways–chalk it up to a language barrier and cultural terminology—cheers from cookie


      • In Venice one of the shops I wanted to visit closed for at least two weeks over Christmas. How dare they?
        Wait, it’s their home….who cares if a tourist wants to visit and possibly buy something. And how dare your boiler break down in August….couldn’t it have waited till September?

        Hope your mosies aren’t carrying any strange diseases.


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    • Gosh poor you. I remember, we moved into a house 2 week before Christmas. My wife bought a turkey ect and the oven was broken….. Have you ever tried to nuke (microwave) a turkey on Christmas day… A Christmas to remember, not


  6. Hi PN 😀 Wow. At least it’s fixed and you’ve had a drink ! I don’t have a boiler, just a solar panel with an electric element in the tank and I ain’t tinkering with that ! Spain should shut down in August, but with the recession villagers just have an away day by walking across the river bridge. Ralph 😀


    • Hi Ralf,

      The recession is here as well, but that has not stopped the Italians from closing up shop and disappearing for 2 to 3 weeks.

      We will need a bridge here just to cross the garden….. we have had so much rain 😦


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