If you live in Italy, you'll be all too familiar with the scene: You arrive at your favouite pizzeria, only to find a sign hanging on the door saying “chiuso per ferie.”
Of course – it's August.
It's the same story at the butcher's, the baker's and in some areas even the banks are chiuso per ferie. You want to make an appointment at the the hairdresser's, or need to see your dentist or accountant? Well, guess what? You should've done that in July.
– Chiuso per ferie, di ritorno a settembre
– Closed for holidays, back in September
Millions of Italians leave for their summer break at the same time, around the beginning of August – and taking the whole month off is far from unusual – meaning the country more or less grinds to a halt.
– Quest'anno andremo in vacanza in Sicilia.
– We're going on vacation in Sicily this year.
– le vacanze sono andate bene
– prendere le ferie
– to take holidays
– andare in ferie
– to go on holiday
If you thought it sounds a bit like the English noun fair, it's because that word also comes from the Latin ferie.
If you're lucky, you'll be able to say:
– ho fatto le ferie al mare
If you're planning to work in Italy, you'll want to ask your employer about ferie retribuite (paid holidays).
But ferie isn't just for August. Italians also use the phrase giorno di ferie for any day they take off work for any reason.