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Nine unmistakable signs that summer has arrived in Italy

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Nine unmistakable signs that summer has arrived in Italy
People soak up the sun on a public beach near Santa Margherita Ligure, Genova. (Photo by OLIVIER MORIN / AFP)

With hot and sunny conditions across the country this week, summer seems to have finally arrived in Italy. Besides the weather though, there’s further proof that 'estate' is upon us.


Awnings, parasols and fans: Italian houses change their appearance

The sun is almost unfailingly scorching during Italy’s summer months, but that doesn’t keep people in the country from enjoying outdoor meals with family and friends. 

As soon as temperatures rise, homeowners rush to roll down awnings and open up parasols, giving their gardens and patios a new look for the season. 

At the same time, fans are quickly pulled out of whatever remote corner of the house they were thrown into the year before and put back in place. 

Grocery shops burst with colour

The summer months mark the return of some beloved types of fruit – from strawberries and cherries to cantaloupes and watermelons, to peaches and apricots.

Embellishing the shelves of grocery shops and food market stands all around the country, these are essential staples of Italians’ summertime diet and many truly can't get enough of them.

Italian supermarket shelves are a burst of colour during the summer thanks to seasonal fruit. Photo by Wendy Petricioli on Unsplash

The return of sandali and infradito

As the days get hotter, people in Italy do away with closed-toe shoes and opt for lighter footwear such as sandals, espadrilles or moccasins.

Flip-flops also make a comeback as people around the country get out their infradito at the beach.

Summer is the only time of the year when you should wear open-toe shoes, according to Italy's unwritten rules of fashion etiquette. 


In fact, for reasons that are not entirely clear, wearing a pair of ciabatte before or after the summer season can raise eyebrows among Italians, even though you might think it's warm enough to wear them.

Late dinners

With days getting longer – in June the sun sets as late as 9.30pm in some areas – people in Italy tend to have dinner later. 

So those living in the north, who are generally known for dining relatively early (around 7.30pm), move dinnertime back by one or even two hours to enjoy the additional sunlight.

In the south of the country, where mealtimes usually happen slightly later all year round, don’t be surprised if dinner doesn’t get started until 10pm or beyond.

People in Italy tend to have dinner later than they usually do in the summer months. Photo by Cory Bjork on Unsplash

Dogged mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are one of the few downsides of the estate italiana as most areas of the country deal with the pesky insects from late May to early September. 

From body sprays and repellents to citronella grass, there are a number of ways you can try to keep zanzare from getting a free meal. But, alas, a few will always make it past your defences with sheer Liam Neesonesque resolve.


Hopeless congestion

Summer is Italy’s peak tourist season, which means that the country’s so-called ‘art cities’ (Venice, Florence, Rome, Verona, etc.) and countless seaside locations are taken over by crowds of tourists, usually to the delight of residents trying to go about their daily lives.

READ ALSO: Five ‘secret’ places in Venice you need to visit

Things generally get more chaotic on Italian roads too, particularly in August, when long traffic jams clog up highways and state roads for hours on end at times. 

Italy’s so-called art cities, including Venice, Rome and Florence, are frequently very crowded during the summer. Photo by Levi van Leeuwen on Unsplash

Cooler bags galore

There’s nothing more quintessentially Italian than a Sunday lunch at the beach, with national tradition requiring that the meal be kept strictly inside a borsa frigo (cooler bag). 

READ ALSO: From spritz to shakerato: Six things to drink in Italy this summer

Word to the wise: never open a cooler bag before lunchtime if you’re hanging around with Italians. Some would faint at the thought of their food “being ruined by the heat”.

Playing cards and Settimana Enigmistica magazines

While the younger beachgoers generally enjoy themselves playing sports, older people go for less physically demanding but equally competitive pastimes, with card games and word puzzles (usually from the iconic Settimana Enigmistica magazine) being by far the most common activities.

Loud Italian music…

As temperatures rise, so does the volume of the speakers in most Italian bars and kiosks. 

While that isn't necessarily a bad thing per se, brace yourself: the owners usually have fairly questionable music tastes. 

What are some of the other signs that summer has arrived in Italy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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