Monday, August 11, 2014

No Soup (Bread, Espresso, Meat, Wine, etc) For You!

 "A vacation is what you take
when you can no longer take
what you've been taking."
~ Earl Wilson

Here's a little something you might not know: August is vacation month for Europeans. No biggie there, right? August is vacation time in the US, also.  There is a huge difference, though.

When I first contacted Giovanni about staying in this apartment for August, he gave me a good deal because in August, ". . . a lot of restaurants, shops, and bars will be closed."  I'd heard the same thing about a lot of European cities—Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Roma, Firenze. I didn't, however, realize exactly how many places close and for how long.

Did you know that the European Union requires member countries to give workers a minimum of 20 paid vacation days annually.  That cannot include public holidays. Know how many paid vacation days the US government requires companies to give their employees?  Zero. mmMost Americans do get paid vacation, but a recent study showed that first-year employees get about five days, and depending on the company, that number increases gradually. 

My point is not to argue about required paid vacations and such. It will be what it is.  What amazes me, though, is that places just close up. Lock. Stock. Barrel.  Chiuso.  Arrivederci. Buona vacanza.  See you in settembre. 

There are four bars within the first block of this apartment (and that's just on *this* side of the road).  When I arrived on 1 August, all four were open. Three of the four were closed today. One will reopen Thursday, and the other two won't reopen for a few weeks.  It's the same with two restaurants on this block, as well as a butcher, a salumeria, a wine store, a kids' store, and a bakery.

There is a bakery/cafe near the school that a few of us wanted to try this week.  It's closed until 1 September.  I've noticed a number of stores that close for the entire month. I wonder, in this time of economic distress, how they can do that.  It doesn't make sense.  Why not stagger vacations so they can keep income flowing?  It is not for me to question, though.

I wouldn't mind so much except that my bar is closed for three days, and I had to get my morning cappuccino at the local bar that is open this week.  It was a good cappuccino, but the brioche was not very good.  The owner scored two points for having photos of dogs and cats of his customers on the mirror behind the bar.  "My friends," he told me.

I know today's post is probably a bit boring, but maybe you have some questions regarding vacation.  Email me if you do, and I'll try to answer.  If you want to read more about vacation in other parts of the world, you can do so here.

By the way, I haven't even touched on the hours stores are open.  Note the photo above these paragraphs. This particular bakery is open from 7:30-13:30. It closes for lunch and reopens at 4:30 for three hours. I have a few stories about that, but those are for another time....

This is a list, by the way, of paid vacation days required by law in each of these countries.  Note that this does *not* include public holidays which add another 10-12 (average) days to the total.

Australia - 20         Austria - 22
Belgium - 20            Canada - 10
Denmark - 25         Finland - 25
France - 30             Germany - 24
Greece - 20             Ireland - 20
Italy - 20               Japan - 10
Netherlands - 20   New Zealand - 20
Norway - 25          Portugal - 22
Spain - 22              Sweden - 25
UK - 20                  US - 0


  1. I knew about the August holiday because we discussed it in Italian class. And I kinda knew about it before that because I have friends in Ireland and it's the same way there. The month of August, everything is closed and they go on vacation. But if all these European countries use August as their holidays and the shops and bars are closed, then where do they all go for holiday so they can enjoy shops and bars? Hmmmmm?

  2. When we lived in Germany, our neighbors across the street, were ITalian and had an Italian Bar & Pizzeria...needless to say, that was our "go-to" place when I didn't feel like cooking. They too, close the entire month of August and go back to Italy for "la ferie". I asked them why they didn't stay open...I was told that the employees steal from them and it was not worry the worry so they close up shop and they said they found that the people appreciated them more when they closed. It's one reason, at least. That was totally understandable, in my opinion. I didn't like the hours in Germany which were similar to Italy. They were totally closed on Sunday. The department stores didn't open until 10am and all stores were clsoed at 8pm. They had a HUGE number of national holidays off. Of course, my husband had to work, though. ;)