Italian Holidays: a very serious national matter.

Here is a big topic for everyone: Holidays!

Traditionally Italians take their holidays twice a year: first during Christmas / New Year’s Eve and then during the month of August.

Because it is no myth, when Italians go on holiday during these 2 periods, the whole country is Out Of Office. No email nor call will be answered and everyone expects it to be that way. It is a sacred time devoted to family and friends, and there is no messing with holidays!

The amazing thing about it is that every single person being on holiday at the same time, you will never be confronted with the annoying colleague or boss who is in the office while you are on holiday, and who keeps emailing and calling you as if you were sitting at your desk… True relaxing holidays. The less positive aspect is that if you had a half hope of going on holiday during low season to enjoy empty beaches and low rates then you will be bitter to discover that this is not really an option in most Italian companies. As offices usually close down for 1-2 weeks during Christmas time and then again for 2-3 weeks during August, you will have used out most of your paid leave forcedly.

Finale Ligure beach front

Finale Ligure beach front

Thank God, Italians also have quite a few bank holidays and with a bit of luck, these fall on a Tuesday or on a Thursday giving way to the famous “Ponte”, ie. take 1 day off and enjoy 4 days off! If you want to check right away how many of those you will get this year, here is a list of the Italian bank holidays:

January 1st - New Year

January 6th - Epiphany

Easter Monday

April 25th: Liberation Day

May 1st: Labour Day

June 2nd: Republic Day

June 24th: San Giovanni (Turin’s Saint) - each city has a different Saint so a different holiday

August 15th: Assumption of Mary

November 1st: All Saint’s Day (Halloween)

December 8th: Immaculate Conception

December 25th: Christmas

December 26th: Santo Stefano

In terms of destination, Italian beaches are always a very popular destination amongst Italians for the month of August. You can then pick your side, between Liguria, Toscana, Sicilia, Sardinia, Puglia or Marche! Turinese are very attached to Liguria being so conveniently close. Think Varigotti, Alassio, Bordighera…. Overall expect crowded beaches with many private beach establishments to squeeze any extra buck out of your pockets, but a beautiful weather and good value for money beach restaurants.

During Christmas, Italians divide themselves between their family home and then a destination between NYE and Epiphany, usually the mountains or a fancy tropical island budget allowing. For Turinese, Bardonecchia, Oulx, and Sestriere are very common ski destinations being an hour or so away from the city! PS - Check out Jolly Sports in Via Nizza for ski gear seasonal rental at bargain rates!

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When it comes to children and school, well they are groomed to comply with this bi-annual holiday rhythm from their youngest age. Being French and used to schools going on holiday every 6 weeks or so, I was surprised to realize that Italian children do not really have much holiday outside of Christmas and the summer break. They will have a few days off around Halloween, then Carnaval, then Easter, but the big chunk is during Summer when schools close from early June and until early September!! 3 months off!! Either you have world-class available grand-parents, or you have to book Summer camps early on to keep your children busy while you wait for August.

Yet a huge advantage of Turin is indeed its geographical location, close to both the mountains and the beaches, so you do not need to wait for the holidays and can do as the Turinese, and enjoy weekends away or even day trips to ski or swim in the Sea according to the season! That is without mentioning the numerous countryside and wine estates to visit around the city! Italian culture being so much about enjoying life in all its aspects, do indulge yourself without any guilt, you are really just blending into the local Dolce Vita spirit!

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