Ferragosto – August in the Dolomites

Kelly Diggle

September 2, 2013

As I entered the kitchen on my usual morning breakfast duty I was welcomed with the words 'Today is the Ferragosto!' Now I’d heard that this Italian holiday was due soon but I didn’t know what it was all about, and so I made it my personal duty to hit the streets with my camera.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful afternoon as I wandered in to La Villa. A stream of cars quickly grew on entrance to the town as the parade prepared to set off down the main street – my timing was perfect! I found a small grass ledge, a perfect viewpoint amongst the large gathering of local people, and stood bursting with excitement as the brass band started to play.

The crowd balanced on the kerb, a camera in every hand as the procession passed by. A mixture of South Tyrolean traditions were on display; farming techniques, different musical instruments, bakery delights and even a parade of how skiing has changed over the years. Beautiful dresses were worn by the women and the men proudly flaunted their lederhosen. As the last float passed, a multitude of people followed behind, walking to the beat of the drum. To the left of me people stood on benches and lent over balconies to get a better look, whilst to the right Grappa shots were being handed out to each participant in the parade (it wouldn’t have been a proper Italian holiday without it).

Outside the ski school, under a large marquee, a fantastic atmosphere had evolved as people sipped their beer whilst enjoying the sound of a jazz band as children ran round with their ice-cream. Hot food was available on every corner creating some very tempting smells as I wandered through the ever growing crowd of people.

I had to reluctantly pull myself away from the celebration to investigate the festivities in Corvara that afternoon. As usual for a Thursday the main road was closed to traffic; instead an army of people filled the street, leaving barely a trace of tarmac. With impeccable timing once again, I joined the road only to be swallowed by a mass of people following music down the street. P-Funking, a quirky modern jazz band, jived their way along route to the open air stage, stopping periodically to allow their audience to grow. Their energy and passion for music radiated out into the crowd and all I could see were big grins and tapping feet.

Just down the way, a reggae band had set up stage on the pavement. The sound of the singers’ voice bouncing off buildings attracted many people to watch. Para-gliders looming behind Sassongher surely had the best seat in the house as they slowly descended over the town. I could have stood all night watching the band work together to create such perfect music for such an occasion.

The day was filled with a huge sense of pride; a proud culture, a people proud of their South Tyrolean traditions and lifestyle. I myself felt proud to be a part of the festivities and enjoyed learning more about what makes the Alta Badia region so unique. The Ferragosto holiday only comes round once a year; a day most definitely worth integrating with your walking holiday in the Dolomites.

Collett's blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly's personal travel blog can be found here.