August is a crazy month in Italy. For Italians, it is often the best month of the year - a time for vacation, family, friends and the beach. But it is also the height of tourist season, and hotel prices soar to 3 or even 4 times their usual rates while restaurants are reserved months in advance.

The reason for all this excitement centers around one particular day - August 15 or Ferragosto, when almost everyone in Italy takes a holiday. Second only to Christmas, Ferragosto is a day away from work, surrounded by food and loved ones.

Besides the singular day, the week around Ferragosto is usually celebrated as well, with concerts, outdoor festivals and tons of food. But, have you ever wondered why exactly Italians celebrate this seemingly random day in the middle of the hottest month of the year? Believe it or not, Ferragosto is an ancient tradition.

It dates from the year 18 BC when Emperor Augustus created a holiday, "Feriae Augusti" or "festivals of Augustus". On this day, he would organize horse races all across the Roman Empire and people everywhere had huge feasts and celebrated. Incredibly, these horse races have stuck around, as the second phase of the famous Palio in Siena, which is always held on August 16.

Besides its pagan roots, Catholicism also has a hand in Ferragosto, because August 15 is also Assumption Day, or the day when the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven. Many churches hold processions and feasts to honor the Blessed Mother.

Then in the 20th century, the 15th of August took a new turn when Mussolini, refusing to be outshone by the Virgin, organized discounted trains, calling them the, "people's trains of Ferragosto". For many Italians, it was the only vacation they took all year in which they could travel away from their hometowns and see other parts of Italy.


Thank you to our 2021 5k sponsors:

In memory of Frank and Jean Citera


Carnevale is an Italian tradition that is celebrated prior to the start of Lent. It translates "Farewell to meat". There are many meat and elaborate dishes as well as decadant traditional desserts! There are beautiful costumes adorned at feasts, parades, and parties. The traditions vary from region to region. Here are some videos that demonstrate how to make some of the delicious desserts!


La Befana has been flying around the world on her tattered broomstick to swoop down chimneys and deliver sweet or sooty judgment on girls and boys long before Kris Kringle.The witch has been in the Italian tradition at least since the eighth century, as part of the Epiphany.

In Italy, the Epiphany marks the official end of the Christmas season, commemorating the day when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts. Every year, the occasion is celebrated with living nativity scenes, a great procession through the city center, and - most exciting for the sweet tooths among us - the arrival of La Befana.

According to the story, the four figures' fates were intertwined when the Magi happened upon La Befana early on during their quest. She charitably hosted them for an evening in her humble but cozy cottage; the next morning, they invited her to accompany them to Bethlehem. Busy cleaning her home, La Befana declined at first - but then, after they carried on their way - she had second thoughts. She quickly filled a basket with gifts for the baby Jesus and set off alone. Although she followed the same star, she was unable to find the manger before the Wise Men did on January 6, the Epiphany.

Today, La Befana continues to travel the world on Epiphany Eve, searching every house for the child and leaving candies and chocolates for the good children - just coal for the bad - in her wake.

Click on this link to hear the story of La Befana as retold by author Tommy DePaola. Play it for your children and grandchildren. Enjoy!


We would like to thank all of the following sponsors of our Italian Festival for their support:

Entertainment Sponsors: ($500 level)

  • Investor's Bank
    Rt. 9
    Marlboro, NJ 07746
    (732) 617-7229

Ride Sponsors: ($200 level)

  • WAWA
    Rt. 9 South
    Freehold, NJ
  • Mr. Joseph Stefanelli
  • My Greener Dry Cleaner
    Rt. 79
    Marlboro, NJ 07746

Game Sponsors: ($100 level)

  • Carlo's Gourmet Pizzeria, Restaurant & Caterers
    326 Union Hill Road
    Rt 9 North
    Marlboro, NJ
    (732) 536-6070
  • Cracked Olive Market
    37 Main Street
    Holmdel, NJ
    (732) 946-4115
  • Conforti's Bakery
    632 Mantaloking Rd.
    Brick, NJ 08723
  • Deal Credit Corp. - Personal Auto Financing
    174 Main st.
    Eatontown, NJ
  • Gregory & Danett Cinque
  • Happy Cleaners
    340 Rt. 9 N (Exclusive Plaza)
    Englishtown, NJ
    (732) 617-8500
  • Janney Montgomery Scott,LLC
    (212) 829-3837
  • Jersey Lube
    380 Rt. 9 N
    Marlboro, NJ
    (732) 851-6760
  • Key Food Stores
    300 Gordon's Corner Road
    Manalapan, NJ 07726
  • Lobster House
    300 Mounts Corner Drive
    Freehold, NJ
    (732) 677-3988
  • Mr. Frank Laurciella, Accountant
    (732) 525-3191
  • Pastosa Ravioli
    Union Hill Road
    Manalapan, NJ
  • Saker Shop Rite
    922 Highway 33
    Bldg. 6 Suite 1
    Freehold, NJ
  • Wine Room
    227 Rt. 33
    Manalapan, NJ 07726
    (732) 792-7007
  • A Personal Touch Event Planning, LLC
    (732) 536-5832

Paesano of the Festival ($50 level)

  • Mario Patti
  • Bacos Pizza
    358 Mounts Corner Drive
    Freehold, NJ
  • Basiles
    536 Park Avenue
    Freehold, NJ
    (732) 866-4085
  • Bella Vista Hair & Nails
    26 Thoreau Drive
    Freehold, NJ 07728
  • DiBartolo's Quick Stop
    160 East Newmans Springs Road
    Red Bank, NJ
    (732) 224-9351
  • DNR Heating & Air
    173 Windham Way
    Freehold, NJ
    (732) 462-5213
  • Dusal's Pizzeria
    340 Union HiIl Road
    Manalapan, NJ
    (732) 536-4089
  • Figaro 2
    344 Union Hill Road
    Manalapan, NJ
    (732) 972-2600
  • Fresh Cuts Lawn
    (908) 670-4790
  • Magic Cleaner
    162 Rt 34
    Matawan, NJ
    (732) 264-9595
  • McLauglin's Auto Repair
    139 Rt. 9 South
    Marlboro, NJ
    (732) 591-0329
  • Mr. Joe Barbone
  • Mr & Mrs Albert Petruccio
  • Mr. & Mrs. Vinnie Russo
  • Mrs. Lisa Van Heet
  • Nadia's Family Hair Salon
    14 Wilson Avenue Suite 3
    Englishtown, NJ
  • Santander Bank
    345 Unio Hill Road
    Manalapan, NJ
    (732) 617-4080


  • Wegman's
    Rt. 9 S
    Manalapan, NJ
  • Whole Foods
    Rt. 9 S
    Marlboro, NJ
  • Fire Side Grill & Bar
    Rt 79
    Marlboro, NJ 07746
  • Monster Mini Golf
    Rt 9 North (Exclusive Plaza)
    Marlboro, NJ
  • The Cucciniello Family

Member jacket sale!

IAA member jackets are now available for IAA members to purchase. Please refer to the two color choices that are available and indicate your choice on your order form. Checks are made payable to the IAA of MC and mailed to: IAA of MC, P.O. Box 224, Marlboro, NJ 0746 attention: Maria Grossi.

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The Italian American Youth Group is sponsored by the Italian American Association of Monmouth County and consists of teens and young adults ages 13-20. The club promotes Italian culture, traditions and pride and provides community service and support for local charities. Check out the flier for more details.

Webmaster: Vinnie Scuorzo
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