In Italy, like the US, there are times when everyone goes on vacation. For many Americans the 4th of July weekend is a time to take off from work and go to the beach or barbeque with family and friends. The 15th of August, Ferragosto – Feriae Augusti, a term that literally comes from when the emperor Augustus took his rest – is very much the same. Every Italian has the day off to spend time relaxing or celebrating. This means that the country slows down for a few days but most coffee bars are open so cappuccino, espresso or freshed-squeezed orange juice are always available. Even in the big cities like Rome, Naples, and Florence services will be different than the rest of the year on Ferragosto and many places that you’ve read about may be closed. That said, there are great restaurants that remain open during August and on mid-month Ferragosto.
So what restaurants are open in August in Rome? Here are a few:
Salumeria Roscioli is a deli with stellar kitchen, which is open in August with the exception of August 15 and Sundays. If you’re planning on eating there Saturday evening, be sure to book in advance. Go for superb carbonara and pata negra ham, burrata cheese and homemade bread, all to be paired with a good wine selection, and pretty much everything on the always updated menu. Fish lovers will find La Torricella open, and also La Gensola in Trastevere is open for lunch, but Sunday is their rest day too. One of our favorite, Osteria dell’Arco, is open every night in August (except Sunday), as well as Tram Tram (save for a few days over Ferragosto). Also in the northern part of Rome is a classic.
Cucina Romana may be a little too rich in summer, but aficionados of amatriciana, cacio e pepe, gricia and carbonara, plus tripe and other offal-based dishes can find happiness at a number of trusted places: Flavio al Velavevodetto in Testaccio – a fantastic trattoria with breezy outdoor terraces – is open in August, smack in the heart of the neighborhood that brought the fifth quarter to world fame. A great August destination for excellent local cuisine and wines is also Cesare al Casaletto, only a tram ride from the centro storico into the quieter Monteverde area. Seating under the leafy pergola in the courtyard will enhance the memorable meal. More local cuisine during the entire month of August can be enjoyed at upscale fine dining Pipero al Rex, where Maître and sommelier Alessandro Pipero, along with Chef Luciano Monosilio’s Michelin-starred yet affordable cuisine will leave you speechless (closed on Ferragosto). Interested in Roman-Jewish cuisine? Check out Nonna Betta, which will be open all summer (except Tuesdays).
For pizza, visit Emma Pizzeria in the heart of the city, which is open all through August; and Gatta Mangiona which stays open all month long, except for three days (15, 16 and 17). Pizzeria ai Marmi is open except for Wednesdays. Across the street from Emma Pizzeria is a great wine bar that is also open in August il vinaietto.
August in Italy can be very hot — we all know that — so a good idea is to plan your holiday in a way that might get you to coastal spots like Ostia, where Ristorante la Vecchia Pineta is open on the mid-month holiday, then you’ll be at the beach eating seafood or pasta rather than in the city where things slow down and the heat is intense. In Fregene La Baia is another valid seaside solution. Here you can spend the day at the beach, enjoy sunset cocktails on the deck, and continue there for a seafood dinner at candle-lit tables.
For evening respite and breathtaking views, another city alternative is splurging on a meal at a rooftop hotel restaurant as they are always open. Though a reservation will be mandatory, Ferragosto should not be a problem. Consider Michelin starred restaurants like Imàgo at the Hassler, Terrazza dell’Eden in the heart of Dolce Vita territory, and stunning All’Oro at The First Luxury Art Hotel. Also in the heart of Rome is Giuda Ballerino! at the Hotel Bernini Bristol roof garden, which brings Chef Andrea Fusco’s critically acclaimed ‘suburban’ cuisine to the city center.
When we travel abroad, we think about the local customs of the place we are going to and adjust accordingly. This is the best way to get an authentic experience. If you’re ready to see and live Italy like an Italian then hopefully you’ll be flexible enough to change plans at the last moment especially during August. Isn’t that part of the joy and adventure of travelling?
Elizabeth Janus is a passionate traveller, and makes it a point to peruse the farmer’s markets in every place she visits to get an immediate pulse of the city. For the last decade, she has been guiding discerning clients on food adventures at farmer’s markets, speciality shops and into her home for unique Italian meals to experience Italy as an Italian..