Every August, the northern part of Italy closes up and goes south for the summer. For 2 to 3 weeks in August, anywhere around Milan is a ghost town. It is quite surreal to have parking readily available, empty streets and closed up shops. It’s hard to fathom, in comparison to our American always-open mentality, that business owners would close up their businesses for 2 to 3 weeks. What if someone needed something? “No matter” is the sentiment here. They have lives to live. “What, do you expect us to be open all of the time for you?” Apparently not.
I was talking to a colleague at work yesterday about this time. He said it’s not nearly as quiet and empty as it used to be. The big multi-national companies don’t close anymore, like they used to in August, so there are a lot more people working. And of course that means the support of stores and other services. Also this year, with the economy, people may be on vacation but staying home rather than going to the sea. So the empty streets we are experiencing are not even that empty.
I will never understand it, why you would want to take a vacation at the same time as every one else. And, in the heat of summer, to the hottest places. But this is Italy, this is what they do. Their culture, tradition. Even while I shake my head in disbelief, I also feel a little sad that this cultural phenomena is slowly changing to be more like the rest of the world.
With that, I’m heading out on vacation myself. Summer vacation is only so long for my son, so that means travel at the peak times for us too. I will be back in a week or so, with pics of England to share.