When I came to Florence (twenty years ago … shhhhh) August was total shut down. Not a fly flew, not bird breathed, not a person made a peep. Having recently arrived from a job in London where the standard 15 days holiday a year (which I took in pay rather than days, like many others), I was almost suicidal during my first August when I was sent home for 4 weeks. 4 long boring weeks. I used to go down to Blockbusters (the only thing open) simply to have some human contact.
In my job as manager of an export department, explaining the summer closure to German and American clients was not only excruciatingly embarrassing (I had worked hard to win over those clients from German and American suppliers), but also really really hard for them to understand. Why would a business choose to close for nearly 8% if their working year? Why would they start warning about decreased services as of the 15th July and totally resumed services on the 15th September (making the actual interruption to the calendar more like 15% of the year)?
Things have changed. They have. A big fat slap in the face called la crisi has shaken things up. And a smaller slap in the face that was well overdue anyway called international competition has played its part too. Businesses now rarely close for more than one or two weeks in August, and we probably all know by now that this year a further 4 million less Italian holidaymakers will be on the road compared to last year. And last year was rubbish. So we are a sad and sorry lot; no money and no holidays.
So why, WHY, does the August mentality still exist. If I get another email that signs off with buone vacanze I will scream (it won’t make any difference I know). Companies still go into “go slow” mentality from the 15th July onwards (sotto le ferie), for the whole of August, even if they are open (durante le ferie), and for the first two weeks of September nothing can be done because everyone has just come back from their holidays (appena rientrati dalle ferie).
1. August is no longer a hot month; it’s not, July is normally way hotter
2. there are countries where many of the months are much hotter, but they don’t close for business
3. businesses in Italy can nowadays rarely afford to close for more than one week
4. get over this holiday mentality – holidays are when you YOU the individual chose to take them – February, May, July or even November
5. get back to work, we’ve got a sodding country to get back on it’s feet and I cannot do it alone