22 August 2006


Italy traditionally closes down between 1 PM and 4 PM each day for a siesta, what is called “riposo”, a rest. Anzio continues this tradition and most of the shops, including our local grocery, close at 1 and do not open again until 4 or 5 PM. They are then open until 8PM.

Being from America, the land of 24 hour stores, this has required some adjustments on our part and a little extra planning. If we want to go to Anzio to shop we need to go early in the day or wait until late in the afternoon. Even the vehicle traffic and bus schedules reflect this traditional slow down in mid day, the bus is much more frequent at the beginning and then end of riposo.

During riposo many restaurants are not open, just sandwich and pizza slice shops. Since the groceries close you better be prepared for lunch (called “pranzo”), which is eaten between 1 and 3 PM, before everyone is closed or you will get rather hungry by the time they open again.

It is interesting to see the change on any of the main streets: in the morning there is heavy traffic, people going to stores, cars parked along the street and people sitting outside their favorite bar. By 2 PM this same scene changes drastically: very little traffic, stores shuttered, no one out shopping and no cars parked on the street. It looks as though the rapture has occurred and we have been left behind. After 5 PM the scene switches back to chaos.

Riposo is when we write emails, study our Italian, do some cleaning or just take a nap.

After the stores close at 8 PM is when dinner (called “cena”) time starts and many restaurants do not open until then and they will be their busiest around 9 PM. Evenings frequently go until midnight for us, everyday of the week. This change in meal times has been an adjustment for us as we were accustomed to lunch around noon and dinner around 6 PM, our stomachs required a few weeks to adjust to these new meal times.

The top photo is a street in Anzio Colonia at 3PM, no traffic. The bottom photo is the same day at 7PM with the sides of the street parked with cars going to the stores.


Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find a history of 'riposo' in italy but no luck. Is it a custom that dates back to medieval times, or established recently in the past hundred years or so? Where could I learn more? Seach engines have been of no help at all.


Anonymous said...

I Know this is an old post but if I can be of any help....what you call riposo actually hasn't a name in Italy, and it involves only small shops..larger retail stores and malls tend to be open non stop through the day. Shops can operate on a fixed number of hours depending on their size, so they choose to be open when there's more people out..People with regular jobs such as factory and office workers, usually have 1-hour lunch breaks and finish their work day around 5-6 pm..that's when they usually shop. Hence, shops prefer to close longer at midday and stay open longer in the evening. I hope this was helpful. Sara from Verona

Bryan said...

Riposo is alive and well here in southern Italy. If you walk the streets and piazze of Il Mezzogiorno between 13:30 and 16:00 you can't miss riposo - no one is there as they are at home resting. (The noun riposo is based on the verb riposare - to rest)

It is true the "iper" stores and malls are open during riposo but if you visit them here they are ghost towns during the riposo period. Even comune offices and banks are closed at this time.