August 15th is my sign summer is almost over. In Italy, so many things close down. Small family owned businesses may close the whole month or simply a week. If possible, families leave town and head to the beach or the mountains to stay cooler and have some nice fresh air. These signs are all over town, posting the dates the shops close.
The heat is on, but it also rains often now. In a land where air conditioning and ice cubes are hard to come by, summer storms bring relief.
As with most holidays, this one has roots with a pagan festival, representing the end of the wheat harvest. For the Catholics it is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.
If you are in Tuscany, August 16th is the Palio, the famous horse race held in the main piazza in town. I prefer to watch it on TV, but adore all the celebrations around it. So it is a nice time to visit Siena. The beautiful mosaics of the Cathedral are uncovered and there are parades and parties celebrating. The costumes are really incredible and the passion the Sienese have for their city.