- 1 What is siesta?
- 2 What is riposo?
- 3 What is an Italian nap called?
- 4 When is siesta time in Italy?
- 5 How long is siesta in Italy?
- 6 Tips for Visiting Italy During Riposo
- 7 Things to do During Siesta in Italy
- 8 Siesta in Italy: Wrap-Up
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Whenever I’m out for the day exploring Italy, I keep a constant eye on the clock.
As you might’ve guessed, meals are an important part of Italian life–but so are the meal times.
Usually, breakfast is from whenever you wake up in the morning until Noon.
Lunch hour starts around Noon and runs until about 2:30/3 p.m.
However, you might be stuck waiting until dinner if you miss lunchtime. Unless you’re in Venice, where you can enjoy cicchetti at any time of the day.
This is due to siesta in Italy–a period of rest time in the afternoon.
In many countries around the world, people take a break after lunch to enjoy some relaxation.
This afternoon break is especially popular in Spain and Italy–commonly known as the Spanish word “siesta.”
This mid-day break is a time-honored tradition in many parts of Italy.
Here, we will explore the fascinating history behind siesta, and I’ll leave you with some tips on how to make the most out of a siesta afternoon.
What is siesta?
Siesta is a traditional mid-day break prevalent in many parts of Italy.
It’s a time for people to take a break from their daily activities and relax or nap.
And many local businesses are closed during this window, so it’s best to plan your day accordingly.
This type of afternoon break is also popular in Spain.
The concept of siesta has been an element of Italian culture for centuries, dating back to the Roman Empire.
According to the vice president of the Spanish Society of Sleep, Juan José Ortega:
“The Romans stopped to eat and rest at the sixth hour of the day. If we bear in mind that they divided periods of light into 12 hours, then the sixth hour corresponds in Spain to the period between 1 p.m. (in winter) and 3 p.m. (in summer).”BBC
What is riposo?
Riposo is the Italian word for the tradition of siesta, meaning rest.
When you’re in Italy, this is the word you’ll hear when people talk about taking an afternoon break.
It’s a time to rest in between a long day of work or recharge after a packed morning of sightseeing.
What is an Italian nap called?
Since riposo doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will be sleeping, pennichella or pisolino are the Italian words used to describe an afternoon nap.
When is siesta time in Italy?
Typical siesta time in Italy varies depending on the business and where you are in the country.
Usually, local shops and other businesses close around 12:30 p.m. for their midday break and start to reopen around 3 p.m.
Restaurants are on a slightly different schedule, serving lunch between Noon and 2:30 p.m.
Then, unless they also offer aperitivo, they will stay closed until the dinner rush begins around 7 p.m.
However, if there is a restaurant or shop you definitely want to visit on your Italian itinerary, make sure to check their hours in advance and plan accordingly.
How long is siesta in Italy?
Siesta in Italy usually lasts for about two to three hours.
However, it can be as short as one hour or as long as four or even five hours, depending on the business and the region.
Remember, this has been my experience with Italian riposo time living in Rome and near Venice; however, operating hours may vary.
Please make sure to check with your local businesses to find out their hours.
Tips for Visiting Italy During Riposo
Plan your sightseeing around riposo time to make sure you eat lunch
Unless you want to be stuck eating fast food in a country where the cuisine is revered, I highly recommend you plan ahead.
What landmarks will you be exploring? Find a few restaurants nearby so you have options come lunchtime.
Or, if you’re living in Italy, plan to run your necessary errands first thing in the morning.
Pack snacks and protein bars
No matter the time of year you’re visiting Italy, it’s important to pack snacks and protein bars.
This way, if you find yourself in a situation where no restaurants are open during siesta, you’ll have something to tide you over until dinner.
Protein bars are handy if you’re sightseeing all day and need an energy boost.
Take advantage of the rest hours to recharge
Take advantage of the rest hours to recharge and appreciate the cultural difference.
This will help you make the most of your Italian vacation and ensure you’re well-rested for all the adventures ahead!
Appreciate the cultural difference
One of the best reasons to travel is to experience a culture and lifestyle different from yours.
Although you might find it frustrating that restaurants and shops close during this prime afternoon window, riposo is an integral part of Italian heritage.
Things to do During Siesta in Italy
Plan to visit a museum or church during this window
Visiting a museum or church during siesta time in Italy is a great way to explore the country’s rich history and culture while making the most of these otherwise uneventful hours.
Many of the most popular attractions around the country, such as Rome’s Colosseum, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, and Venice’s Galleria dell’Accademia, are open during this time.
Additionally, many churches and cathedrals are open during siesta, offering peaceful respite while you’re still sightseeing.
Again, make sure to check the landmark’s official hours to confirm.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the city center
Riposo time is also an excellent opportunity to walk through the city.
You’ll find that even the city’s most bustling streets have fewer people walking around during Italy’s siesta hours.
This is your chance to explore some of the more famous streets almost to yourself or lesser-known areas and neighborhoods that you might have yet to see.
Take a guided tour in the afternoon
Another great activity during riposo in Itay? Take a guided tour!
You can find tons of different experiences that take place in the afternoon, from walking tours to wine tastings and cooking classes.
Eat at a “bar”
In Italy, a bar is for coffee and small bites. Sometimes, they’ll also serve alcohol, but usually not until aperitivo.
Most importantly, many of them stay open during siesta time.
These bars offer a variety of snacks, sandwiches, and other light meals that are perfect for lunchtime.
Plus, they’re usually much cheaper than traditional restaurants!
Stop for gelato
Gelato is a must-have when visiting Italy, and siesta time is the perfect indulging opportunity.
Many gelaterias stay open during riposo, so you can enjoy a scoop or two of this delicious Italian treat without worrying about missing out on other activities.
It’s a great way to cool off after a day of sightseeing in Italy’s hot summers.
Head to a grocery store
If all else fails–you’re tired, hungry, and missed the lunch window–head to a grocery store.
Many of Italy’s chain grocery stores like Coop, Conad, Despar, Aldi’s, and Lidl stay open during siesta hours.
You can find grab-and-go options like yogurt, shakes, and other snacks that are perfect for a quick break for lunch and stock up on snacks and drinks for the rest of your trip.
Siesta in Italy: Wrap-Up
Riposo in Italy is a beautiful tradition that shows this great country’s deep culture and history.
It provides Italians with rest, relaxation, and bonding time with family and friends.
By embracing the Italian siesta tradition, visitors to Italy can experience a deeper appreciation for the local lifestyle.
And whether you’re spending a lazy afternoon chatting at a coffee shop, relaxing after a delicious lunch, or leisurely meandering around town, you’ll find something to do during siesta in Italy.
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