Many Italians take their vacation in August, leaving the cities and heading to the mountains or coast, so expect beaches to be crowded. If you're visiting Italian cities you may find many shops and restaurants closed for vacation, chiuso per ferie, for at least part of the month but tourist sites will still be open. August 15, Assumption Day or Ferragosto, is a major holiday so although cities will be even emptier and beaches and coast roads more congested than ever, there are some good festivals on the 15th and 16th.
August is a good time for open-air music concerts and historic festivals, from the more famous Palio of Siena and Ascoli Piceno's Quintana or jousting tournament to small town medieval fairs, most including participants in period costume. Attending a festival is a fun way to experience local culture, often for free or very little cost. See more August Festivals and Events in Italy.
La Quintana photo © by Teresa Plowright, Family Vacations