Ferragosto – festival in August

September 19, 2013 by Davide No Comment

If you ever have the fortunate opportunity to celebrate the August festival of “Ferragosto” while in Italy, then you are a lucky traveller indeed! Occurring on August 15th, its origins are derived from ancient Roman festivals celebrating the harvest and the end of a long period of intense agricultural labor. Today, many Italians traditionally head to the beaches, but it is celebrated throughout the country in many ways and usually signals the start of the Italian holiday period. Here at the Castello, we have a long-standing and charming tradition that carries on every year. Bright and early, the campana is rung from our bell tower by one of the staff. There are two warning sets of rings; one for the 7AM mass in the chiesa (chapel) on the property, and then for the 2nd mass at 10AM. Many local villagers come to the grounds and attend. The chapel flowers are lovingly arranged by Claudia, one of the proprietors. The church service is followed by a feast.


This was sent in by a previous guest;
she hoped we would share it with our readers.

I once had the pleasure of being a guest at the castello during Ferragosto. The owners had warned me to expect an early wake up call the next day, August 15th. Just before 7AM, resounding bell sounds echoed proudly form the castello bell tower.  With the persistent CLANG of the campana – I was quite awake. After all, I was here to experience the real Tuscany, so I rushed to the bell tower to find one of the owners (Giacomo) ringing the bell himself. With great arm strength, he rang the bell repeatedly from its rope. The tower stood above the foggy Tuscan landscape. “Buongiornio”, said the gentleman as he continued to ring the bell, as he had for many years and many previous generations had done before him. “Buongiorno” I answered as I stared mesmerized by the scene, the loud ringing filling not just my ears, but my very being. It was clear then and there why churches had employed bells to call the faithful. He offered me the rope. “Grazie” I said, and assumed I would carry on this ancient rhythm he had been striking. But suddenly, it was much harder than it had seemed; the cadence went awry, as the bell rang at odd times and sometimes not at all! I sheepishly handed him back the rope after a minute of trying. I would need more training. As I went downstairs and the ringing stopped, I felt very grateful to be witness to this ancient ritual; year after year, each Ferragosto, this bell sound rings in the start of a much needed break to the local workers of the land.


By the time the villagers spilled out of the chapel, the fog had dissipated and the strong Tuscan sun had taken the lead. They assembled outside on the grounds and set up a sale of homemade food and baked goods to benefit a local organization. Young and old, they all helped set up and cook. The smells were magnificent! There were homemade pots of Ribolitta (Tuscan bread soup), various fried breads (delicious festival snacks!) and Torta della Nonna – a pine nut cake, typical of the region. We went down to the festival which had quite a nice turnout and listened to the local one man-band play, while sampling regional specialties prepared by the locals – Che Bello!

By the way, August 15th is the ONLY day a guest might be woken up by loud bell sounds!


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