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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

The long days of summer are usually quiet, as parliament breaks for the summer and everyone heads for the beach. But this August is not an ordinary one in Italy.

Italy's summer holidays this year will coincide with an early election campaign.
Italy's summer holidays this year will coincide with an early election campaign. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

August is the month when most people in Italy flee the sizzling heat of the cities to seek relief at the beach.

This year’s traditional holiday month, however, will also feature an unprecedented summer electoral campaign following the recent collapse of the government.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Here’s what to look out for in Italy this August.

Fuel prices

To help motorists and businesses with the rising cost of living, the government in July confirmed an extension to the fuel tax cut until August 21st.

The tax relief, which means savings of 30 cents per litre of petrol or diesel, has been extended several times since it was introduced in March.

The measure is expected to be extended again until September.

Summer election campaign

Italy’s parliamentary summer break officially runs throughout August until early September, but it’s all but cancelled this year as the country is heading for snap elections after Mario Draghi’s government collapsed at the end of July.

The date set for the election is September 25th, meaning holidays are cancelled as parties will be campaigning hard over the summer. Negotiations are already well underway as to which coalitions might form and who will lead them.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

August 26th – 30 days before the election – is the first date parties can put up campaign posters, but you can expect to be targeted with radio jingles and TV ads from the start of the month.

Until then the current government remains in office in a caretaker capacity.

Italians flock to the beach en masse on the August 15th Ferragosto holiday.

Italians flock to the beach en masse on the August 15th Ferragosto holiday. Photo by OLIVIER MORIN / AFP

An end to smart working (for some)

The automatic right for vulnerable people and those with children under the age of 14 in Italy to do their job from home (provided the nature of their work makes remote working possible) ends on July 31st.

From the start of August, only private sector workers who have an informal agreement with their employer, parents of under-14s whose partner is not on unemployment benefits, and workers whose medical vulnerability has been certified with a doctor’s note will have the right to continue performing 100 percent of their work remotely.

That changes again on August 31st: after this date employees and employers must have a formal written agreement on any remote working arrangements.

Public holiday

Most of Italy is generally chiuso per ferie (closed for the holidays) throughout the month of August, but the Ferragosto national holiday on August 15th is when the whole country really clocks off and heads to the beach.

This year’s Ferragosto falls on a Monday, meaning those few Italians who aren’t already on holiday are likely to take a long weekend off starting Friday, August 12th.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Ferragosto, Italy’s national summer holiday

Road traffic is always particularly bad around the Ferragosto weekend, so it’s a good idea to avoid making long drives on those dates.

School holidays

Italian schools remain on holiday until the end of August and beyond, with kids not returning to the classroom until at least September 12th in most regions.

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ITALY EXPLAINED

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

While summer holidays are important everywhere, Italy takes the tradition of le vacanze estive particularly seriously. Here's what to expect now that August has arrived.

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

1. Cities are largely deserted

If you’re in a city or town, prepare for it to feel strangely empty away from the obvious tourist destinations.

In Rome, car journeys that once involved a half-hour battle through wild traffic become surprisingly quick and stress-free. And where are the crowds at your usual after-work drinks spot in Milan? Even the smallest towns will be noticeably quieter than usual.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

This is because all sensible Italian residents have packed up and gone to the beach or the mountains for a month. Next year, you’ll know to do the same.

2. But beaches are packed

Italy was a nation of staycationers even before the pandemic, and in August it’s tutti al mare: everyone flees to the beach, or maybe the mountains, at the same time.

Expect resorts to be packed and hotels, Airbnbs and campsites to be fully booked, especially as international tourists return after two years of travel restrictions.

3. Shops have cheery ‘closed for holidays’ signs

Shop workers and owners take time off like everyone else and it’s very common for small independent businesses like bakeries, pharmacies and florists to close for up to a month.

Some will tell you when they expect to reopen, others just put a sign in the window saying ‘chiuso per ferie’ – closed for holidays.

4. The summer sales are (still) on

Those shops that do remain open – mainly large chain stores and supermarkets –  offer discounts throughout August to those dedicated shoppers who aren’t at the beach. Italy only allows two retail sales a year, and one of those runs through July and August.

5. Everyone you email is out of the office

Need to contact anyone urgently at work this month? If they’re in Italy, then too bad.

Office workers are also usually on holiday, and a great many offices close altogether for three or four weeks.

Forget about out-of-office email replies suggesting an alternative contact or that the person will be checking their email sporadically – they will be on the beach and whatever you want can wait until they are back.

This applies to banks and to any kind of government bureaucracy, and you may also have trouble getting medical appointments at this time of year.

There’s only one place to be in Italy in August, as far as many Italians are concerned. Photo by Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP

6. There are ‘red alert’ heat warnings in place

This summer has been an unusually hot one and Italy has already experienced several extreme heatwaves. But as we get into August temperatures will no doubt be high across the board, meaning the country’s health authorities put heat warnings in place on the hottest days and strongly advise people to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the afternoon.

7. Every major road has a traffic warning

Italy’s state police make good use of the red pen when putting together the official traffic forecast for August. All weekends feature ‘red dot’ traffic warnings as people head off on holiday, or return home.

The final weekend of August, when people head home in time for il rientro (the return to school and work in September) is also best avoided.

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