Italian students have a very long summer break, covering on average three months between mid-June and mid-September. Lazy, sweaty—and at times, boring—afternoons in July and August are the mainstays of most of them. Summer equals lightheartedness, some degree of freedom, staying out later, and opportunities for experiences that will leave a mark, and memories, on most people’s lives.
Longer school year, longer summer
First, some facts: While Italians spend more days at school than their European peers (around 200 days a year vs. 190 in Norway and 180 in France), their summer break is the longest in Europe. Schools are, indeed, closed for around thirteen weeks, while the European average is seven to nine weeks. Schools are not technically closed; at the end of their respective cycles, middle schoolers have the esame di terza media, while high schoolers take the legendary esame di maturità, a solemn rite of passage as well as the subject of endless movies, books, songs, anecdotes, and memories.
If you’re not at the end of your school cycle, however, chances are you have a long summer to plan. There’s normally some homework to be done, and that includes some great books to read. And for high schoolers, a summer job is always an option, most commonly as babysitter, summer camp staff, or server. Days are still long, however, and so are evenings, and there’s still much free time to enjoy.
June and July, still in your town
Life in cities and bigger towns flows pretty normally during June and July, with some extra activities being available in terms of sports, concerts, movie festivals, and other cultural events. There are *those* special summer nights in which the national soccer team is engaged in international competitions—namely, the European Championship and the World Cup, AKA gli europei and i mondiali— and those are really notti magiche, as a super famous song goes.
August, AKA vacation time
Although customs are changing, and vacations are more scattered throughout the whole summer these days, August is by definition still the vacation month. Students, as well as pretty much everyone else, go somewhere on vacation. Everything counts: your relative’s home in the mountains, a rental place by the sea or a tent by the lake, visiting a European capital or relaxing on a tiny Greek island.
And … back to school!
With the end of August, cities repopulate, and life comes back to normal with that mix of nostalgia and anticipation of what’s next that makes many consider September—or better, the beginning of the school year—the real beginning of the New Year. Italian students normally go back to school at some point in mid-September. And of course, they start counting down to the next substantial vacation—which is Christmas break, way too far away—or at least the next ponte, meaning, a long weekend (think, a public holiday on Monday, for instance). But that is September—let’s not think about that prematurely! What are your plans for the summer? How similar, or different, are your plans compared to those of the Italians?
By Claudia Quesito
Also read: Italian Spring Holidays