People having fun at Ferragosto.

Most of the time, as an Englishman in Italy, and Brexit notwithstanding, I generally feel like an integrated European. However, there are still times when I feel I stick out like a sore Johnny Foreigner.

Depending on whether you’re a half empty or half full kind of person, Ferragosto is either the point at which Summer is just getting started or marks the date (August 15th) when it is nearly over.

Back in the day when people made things, paternalistic factory owners conceded this mid-August holiday to the workers. Since it coincides with the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary, it is also a good excuse to stuff yourself stupid. Old habits die hard, especially when you get to enjoy a day off work (unless, of course, your job is in the service sector attending to the needs of the thrill seekers).

So, traditionally, this state endorsed vacation is a day when traffic is severely jammed, restaurants are booked solid and beaches are ridiculously overcrowded.

What could possibly spoil your enjoyment?

bollocksThis being the Mediterranean, sunshine is all but guaranteed so contingency plans are rarely made. This fact alone is still hard to adjust to.

I can’t help making a contrast with my family holiday experiences in Wales or The English Riviera where it was essential to pack a wind break and waterproofed clothing for the trip along with the bucket and spade. Wet weather was considered an inevitability rather than an eventuality.

The constant threat of rain makes we Brits less spontaneous or hedonistic when it comes to leisure activities. We therefore tend to take our fun more seriously and are accustomed to deciding in advance what to do if (when) the temperature drops or climatic conditions turn a bit iffy.

The authors of Bollocks To Alton Towers know exactly what I’m talking about and the title of the follow-up, Far From The Sodding Crowd, neatly summarises how I plan to spend my Ferragosto. The short 2009 related documentary on the themes of these books may be inexplicable to many but I find it highly entertaining.