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Why isn’t Ascension Day a public holiday in Italy?

Italy is known for being a particularly religious country, so why isn't Ascension Day a public holiday here?

Why isn't Ascension Day a public holiday in Italy?
Pope Francis presides over a mass at the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Thursday 18th May 2023 is Ascension Day, the day many Christians believe commemorates the ascension of Christ to heaven, following 40 days of preaching after his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

This means that it doesn’t always fall on May 18th, but changes each year depending on when Easter is

READ ALSO: How to make the most of Italy’s public holidays in 2023

According to Christian tradition, Ascension Day celebrates the day Jesus ascended into heaven at Bethany or the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. The date is marked across all branches of Christianity on the sixth Thursday after Easter.

That doesn’t mean it is a public holiday everywhere, however.

It’s a holiday in countries including France, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Certain parts of Switzerland also have a day off.

But in Italy, a country known for being overwhelmingly Catholic, the date is not a public holiday and not really marked outside Mass.

Why is this?

Generally speaking, traditionally Catholic countries such as Italy don’t place such an emphasis on Ascension Day.

Instead, many Roman Catholic countries, such as Poland, Spain, and Hungary, as well as Italy, tend to mark the ascension on the Sunday before Pentecost and view the Assumption of Mary on August 15th (l’Assunzione di Maria in Italian, though the date is also known as Ferragosto) as the more important celebration.

l’Assunzione on August 15th is marked by processions and religious events in towns up and down Italy, while the week around Ferragosto sees more or less the entire country close down for summer holidays during what is usually the hottest part of the year.

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For members


What are the rules for installing air conditioning in your Italian home?

Air conditioning doesn’t come as standard in Italian homes, so if you want it this summer, you may need to install it yourself. Here's what you need to know about the process.

What are the rules for installing air conditioning in your Italian home?

Though some parts of Italy may not have seen sizzling temperatures yet, the country is expected to experience bouts of extreme heat in July and August, and some of you may reasonably be looking to get your houses ready for the incoming caldo.

An air-conditioning system is generally the most effective way to keep your Italian house cool over the hot months, but, aside from being fairly expensive (the price of a single unit including installation costs ranges from 400 to 1,500 euros), AC units are often subject to rules setting out where they can and cannot be installed.

Single-family houses

Things are usually far simpler if you own a single-family house (either detached, semi-detached or terraced) as many of the issues encountered by people living in flats just don’t apply in this case. 

There are no national laws regulating the installation of AC units in single-family houses, but some individual town councils may have rules in place banning the installation of AC systems in some types of property (for instance, houses of artistic or cultural relevance or located in historic city centres).

READ ALSO: Reader question: Are bidets legally required in Italian homes?

As a result of that, it’s advisable that owners of single-family houses always consult with the construction offices (uffici per l’edilizia) of their local town councils (comuni) before starting installation works.

Air conditioner in Italy

Installing an AC system in Italy is generally far easier for owners of single-family houses than it is for flat owners. Photo by Alessandro Zanatta on Unsplash


If you’re the owner of a flat, installing an AC system may turn out to be a bit of a headache. 

In fact, not only will you have to ensure that no specific town council ban applies to your building, you will also have to make sure that you abide by your own building regulations over the installation of AC units. 

In some cases, building rules may prevent flat owners from having external AC engines on the building’s facade, but may allow for AC engines placed on the building’s side walls or back wall. 

In other cases, building rules may ask that flat owners paint their external AC engines the same colour as the building. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about having a second home in Italy

All relevant rules over the installation of AC units are generally included in the regolamento condominiale (literally, ‘condominium regulation’), which building administrators are required to store a copy of. 

Flat owners should also be mindful of article 907 of Italy’s Civil Code, which specifies that any type of external construction, including AC engines, should be at least three metres away from the windows or terrace of the floor directly above them to avoid obstructing the view.


If you’re renting your home, you’ll have to ask your landlord for permission to install an AC unit. 

If they accept, you’ll be responsible for purchase and installation costs, unless your landlord agrees to pay for them themselves. 

It bears noting that landlords in Italy are under no obligation to accept AC installation requests nor to financially contribute to installation. 

Air conditioner

In Italy, AC units can only be installed by authorised professionals, with home owners flouting the rules facing hefty fines. Photo by Carlos Lindner on Unsplash

Installation: avoid DIY

As of January 2019, the installation of an AC system in any setting (private homes, public offices, hospitality facilities etc.) must be carried out exclusively by authorised professionals holding a FGAS licence and registered with industry regulator CCIAA.

READ ALSO: Nuda proprietà: The Italian property-buying system that can lead to a bargain

Having your AC system installed by non-authorised workers or installing it yourself may result in a fine of up to 10,000 euro. 


If for any reason you’re not able to install an AC system in your home, there are two main alternatives you can consider. 

Free-standing AC units are not as effective as full AC systems but do provide some cooling. They also generally have wheels and can be moved around the house. Prices usually range from 200 to 400 euros. 

The other alternative is an electric fan – either a desk fan or a standing one. These are on sale in almost all electrical retailers and many large supermarkets (although they often sell out in the first days of a heatwave). Prices are generally very affordable in this case.