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What changes in Italy in September 2023

The Local Italy
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What changes in Italy in September 2023

From traditional food festivals to the return of transport strikes, here’s what to expect in Italy in September 2023.


Il rientro begins

The start of September marks the beginning of il grande rientro - literally ‘the great return’ - as Italian families travel back from their summer holidays en masse.

Italian cities, largely abandoned by residents over summer, start to fill up again and people prepare themselves to go back to work, stock up on school essentials, and (perhaps the task taken most seriously) overhaul their wardrobes for the coming autumn season.

For some, the end of the long Italian summer holidays is a melancholy time of year, while others see it as a fresh start, almost like a new year. It's not all post-holiday blues: you may find your social calendar starts to fill up quickly, as people organise catch-ups with friends or colleagues and swap holiday stories.

Back to school

Children in Italy will be filing back into the classroom in September, with back-to-school dates ranging from September 5th to September 15th this year.

Schools in the country are managed by regional authorities, which is why return dates vary depending on where you are in the country.

This year, the dates are:

  • September 5th: Bolzano province
  • September 11th: Aosta Valley, Trentino, Piedmont
  • September 12th: Lombardy
  • September 13th: Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Umbria, Abruzzo, Marche, Campania, Basilicata, Sicily
  • September 14th: Liguria, Molise, Calabria, Puglia, Sardinia
  • September 15th: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio

READ ALSO: Back to school in Italy: how much will it cost, and how can you save money?


Transport strikes

Passengers can expect more travel disruption in September, after enjoying a strike-free August in part thanks to Italy's summertime restriction on air transport walkouts - which ends on September 5th.

Italian unions have already called several nationwide demonstrations for the coming weeks, with airline, rail and public transport passengers all set to be affected. 

Besides several local and regional walkouts, the following four national strikes are currently expected to cause the greatest amount of disruption to people in the country:

  • Friday, September 8th: 24-hour airport staff strike
  • Saturday, September 16th: 8-hour air traffic controllers strike
  • Monday, September 18th: 24-hour public transport staff strike
  • Friday, September 29th: 24-hour airport baggage handling staff strike

See further details on our September transport strikes list.

Bus in central Rome

After a strike-free August, people in Italy are expected to face major travel disruption in September due to a number of nationwide walkouts. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Road traffic

Motorists on Italian roads may face heavy traffic on first two weekends of the month, as holidaymakers return back home - a large proportion of them by car.

According to police forecasts, the morning of Friday, September 1st and the whole of Sunday, September 3rd will be the worst times for motorists to hit the road as traffic is expected to be “potentially critical” on those dates. 

Intense traffic is also forecast for Friday, September 3rd and the entire following weekend (from September 8th to September 10th). 


Food festivals galore

One of the best things about being in Italy in September is having the opportunity to attend a sagra, a type of harvest festival or fair centred around one particular food or drink item local to the town hosting it.

A sagra has a fairly broad definition: it could last for several weeks or just one day, and might consist of anything from raucous celebrations with music and dancing to more relaxed tasting experiences amid food stalls and wooden benches. It will usually be hosted in a field or a piazza, and entry is free.

READ ALSO: The best Italian food festivals to visit in September

A month-long truffle sagra in Girone, Tuscany, a grape sagra in Giovo, Trentino, a porcini mushroom sagra in Rocca Priora, Lazio, and Made in Malga, a mountain cheeses sagra in Asiago, Veneto are just a few of the dozens of events you can enjoy next month. See more about these festivals in our article here.


Trials of new emergency alert system resume

The trial phase of IT-Alert – a new mobile alert system set up to warn people around the country of emergencies or potential dangers in their area – will resume on Tuesday, September 12th, with tests slated to be carried out in Campania, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Marche.

IT-Alert underwent its first official tests earlier this summer, with trials in Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria and Emilia-Romagna all reportedly with positive results. 

READ ALSO: 'IT-Alert': How Italy will warn you of nearby emergencies via text

Tests in all other Italian regions will be completed by the end of 2023, with the system expected to be implemented at a national level at some point in 2024. 

Mount Etna

Italy's new emergency alert system will warn people of major incidents and natural disasters occurring in their areas. Photo by Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP

End of summer sales

In many areas of the country the summer sale period has already ended, dates vary by region. Italy's saldi season will finish in September for retailers in Basilicata, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Puglia, Sicily and Veneto. You can find a full list of sale dates by region here.


Comments (1)

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Chris Cocchiaro 2023/08/24 16:26
Hi, regarding the September 8th: 24-hour airport staff strike, what does that mean? Is it janitors, gate agents, border control agents, rental car staff? As I arrive at FCO on the 8th, I am hoping not to be affected. Thanks.
  • Giampietro Vianello 2023/08/25 17:57
    Hi, Thanks for your comment! The Transport Ministry's website currently says it will affect baggage handlers as well as ‘Lavoratori comparto aereo, aeroportuali e indotto aeroporti’, which is an awfully vague definition and, as you correctly pointed out, may well include all types of airport staff. Unfortunately, at this time there’s no further info on the walkout and what categories of workers it’s going to affect. We will update the article as soon as further details emerge. We’re sorry we can’t be of more help at this point.

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