August 15 marks Ferragosto—an Italian holiday that the Catholic Church celebrates to commemorate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. In fact, the tradition goes back even further, to ancient Roman times. First proclaimed by the Emperor Augustus in 18 BC, the Romans honored the gods of agriculture and fertility and celebrated for the entire month of August. Now, Ferragosto is a one-day holiday, although many businesses still take off several days.
In honor of Ferragosto, we drove to Urbino to witness the annual Festa del Duca festival. Every August, the townspeople dress up in Renaissance garb and host jousting tournaments, parades and concerts, among other activities. There was also an open-air market where we bought some local meats, cheeses and pastries, and a fantastic bottle of homemade black licorice liqueur. It was a great day to explore my favorite local town. A la prossima festa!