I’ll never forget being in Italy without air-conditioning during the 2019 European heatwave. One hot sticky day, Torino hit 42°C. That’s 107.6°F for my American friends. I spent the week with a wet washcloth tied around my neck, and my feet plunged into tubs of ice water on the balcony. It, was, awful. Oven life.
It only takes one summer to understood why Italy shuts down and everyone heads to the coast the central two weeks in August.
This year, Paolo and I knew we were taking a risk heading inland for our August holiday. However, with numbers rising, we figured the heat would be easier to beat than COVID. To avoid beach crowds, we explored Veneto the first week of August. Starting with the fair city of Verona.
Italy, August Travel | Verona
Walking around Verona feels like being in an Italian fairytale. I cannot wait to share Paolo’s images soon! Curved streets wind gracefully to Piazza delle Erbe, where Madonna Verona keeps a watchful eye over a bustling market. Italians sharing a morning cappuccino in the shade of Porta Borsari. The Verona Arena! Once a Roman amphitheater for medieval jousts now home to Opera lovers like Sophia Loren.
It breaks my heart to think, despite immortalizing Verona in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare likely never stepped foot in Italy! Almost as much as it broke my heart to see the hail storms that flooded Verona shortly after our visit. Here’s a video of the Verona hail storm.
Since so many of my family and friends are not on Instagram, I’ve turned my August Instagram story into a video at the end of this post. You’ll see highlights from Verona that include Porta Borsari before the flood. Plus my first time testing my Italian skills out on my own and highlights from Soave, Prosecco, Valpolicella and Le Langhe wine regions.
Incidentally it was on this trip in Valpolicella where I first saw high wine vines! I didn’t know anything about them until stopping at Recchia vineyard, where we purchased a lot of Amarone della Valpolicella. Here’s a little research I did afterwards for my fellow #winelovers.
Am I the only #winelover who didn’t know this? If you want to see examples of low vs high vines, don’t miss the video at the bottom of the post!
After our week exploring Veneto, Italy’s summer shutdown began on August 15th with Ferragosto.
My First Ferragosto in Italy
A quick Ferrargosto 101 for my non-Italian friends. Italians absolutely love Ferragosto! It’s a little like July 4th for Americans. BBQs with family and friends plus way too much food and wine. Only in Italy, Italians follow Ferrargosto with a two-week vacation at the shore!
Ferrargosto (feriae Augusti in latin) was started by Emperor Augustus in ancient Rome as a celebration and well deserved period of rest at the end of harvest. Over the years, the holiday was used to promote travel throughout Italy. Thus the tradition of heading to the sea to beat the heat and rest.
My first Ferrargosto was incredibly sweet because, it gave Paolo and I a true taste of what living in Italy will be like once we get settled. After over 20 years living hundreds of miles from our families, we got to enjoy the beautiful simplicity of driving an hour to spend the holiday with loved ones. Mamma spoiled us rotten with massive amounts of local cheese, charcuterie and wine.
It’s a good thing we didn’t go to the shore like most Italians, I can’t imagine putting on swimwear after a Ferrargosto feast! Instead, Paolo and I indulged in the solitude of having Torino all to ourselves. The central two weeks of August are called the holiday shutdown in Italy for a reason. Everything shuts down!
Few restaurants stay open and grocery stores have restricted hours. Parking is free, traffic is nonexistent, and parks feel like private gardens.
Lucky for us, car dealerships are open during the summer holiday and we were looking for a deal!
Buying a Car in Italy
Some of you might recall Nanty, that sexy Mazda 6 Paolo and I bought together before hitting the road as nomads. We loved her! Right up to the second we sold her as part of a last minute plan to avoid COVID lockdowns delaying our move to Italy.
In the end, we made it to Italy and so too did Nanty. We decided Nanty is a shape shifter. We just needed to find her a new body. Since we’re living in Europe where the streets and parking spaces are smaller, but the gas bills are enormous, Nanty is now a compact Mazda3 hybrid in soul red crystal with a hatchback.
She’s so cute I can hardly stand it! Take a peek at her transformation below.
7th Wedding Anniversary, Celebrating in Wine Country
Since our 7th wedding anniversary fell right in the middle of the Italian summer holiday, we took the weekend to zip down to wine country. I still cannot believe that’s something we can do so easily now!
Paolo found an adorable B&B called Casa Tina Holiday nestled at the top of Dino d’Alba with panoramic views of the entire Alba region. I’ve included our winery walks in our August video at the end of the post so you can see why I love, love, love, exploring wine country.
The only bummer? We had hoped to take Nanty to Le Langhe for our 7th Anniversary weekend celebration. DRAMA ALERT! We paid for Nanty outright on August 19th. Yet as of today September 3rd, we still don’t have her keys!
In August during the summer holiday shutdown, forget it! You can find deals but you can’t have the wheels.
The office that needs to process the title transfer, you guessed it, is closed during the central weeks of August. When it re-opens, they are playing catch up on any car sales over the holiday. So we’re still waiting to bring Nanty home, and it’s killing me! Of course, we still don’t exactly have a home yet. Well we do. It’s just, well a wee bit complicated.
Since sharing where we’ve decided to live in Italy is a long story and I’m stuck waiting for Nanty, you my dear friend get to wait with me! At least on the news of where our new home will be in Italy. Let’s just say finding an architect in August moves about as fast as new car paperwork.
If you’re absolutely dying to find out, our new friends Ilene & Gary over at Our Italian Journey have an exclusive hint! Long story short, while Ilene and I were chatting on the phone, she heard an Ape zip by in the background. Knowing the sound well, she asked where I was. Before you know it, I spilled the beans on where our first Italian home will be. Oops!
If you check out Ilene’s post you’ll get a hint of where we’ll be living in Italy plus a little backstory on how Paolo and I could afford to move to Italy without jobs in our 40s. If you’re like me and avoid spoilers, how about that video I promised with all that beautiful wine country footage!
Follow ALOR.blog to be the first to know where we decided to move in Italy.
Don’t worry just because we didn’t have Nanty for our anniversary trip to wine country doesn’t mean we didn’t bring home a lot of wine. We managed to get six cases of wine in the back of a tiny Panda we borrowed! I promise when you can finally come visit, we’ll have plenty of vino. After-all, wine country is always just around the corner in Italy.
What wine region would you most like to see in Italy?
More Stories of Moving to Italy
Verona is a modern-day Italian fairytale city. This week, we honor fair Verona with images taken just weeks before a disastrous hail storm flooded the city.
Moving to Milan | Finding a job in Italy | Speaking Italian | Pros & Cons of life in Italy. An expat series about the beautiful complexity of moving to Italy.
COVID, Moving to Italy in 2020 & Life without regrets. Reflections on becoming an Italian citizen. What might have happened had I waited & why you never should.