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NAPLES, Italy — It’s not a trucker or gas strike bringing the nation to a virtual halt this time — but the traditional, good ol’ summer shutdown for the August holiday season.

Ferragosto is an Italian holiday officially celebrated on Aug. 15, but for years it has been the day around which millions of Italians center their weekslong summer vacation. Cities empty out in August as residents flood to beaches, mountains or far-away vacation destinations.

To ease struggles often associated with closed stores — especially grocery stores and restaurants — and to avoid a complete shutdown of Naples, the city’s office of economic development parceled the city into zones. Then, it tapped stores, shops and eateries in each zone to remain open, so that shoppers have some place to get groceries and essentials, according to a posting on the city’s Web site.

The plan "results in a number of grocery stores open during the month of August clearly greater regarding [the number] of past years," Mario Raffa, a city councilman and head of the city’s development and commerce, said in the posted statement.

Most of the city’s coffee bars and restaurants will be open until Aug. 10, and then again from Aug. 25 on, closing for just two weeks instead of the entire month, Raffa noted. Tourists have been caught off guard when visiting Italian cities during August, only to find much of the cities cleared out of residents and establishments closed.

Many beachfront and resort towns, however, are open.

Naples posted five documents on its Web site, www.comune.napoli.it, that detail, by store names and addresses, the dates in which certain stores, bars, minimarkets, restaurants, ice cream shops and pizzerias are slated to be opened or closed.

The documents are written in Italian. But, here’s a quick guide: Aperto or aperti means "open," and chiuso or chiusi means "closed." Grocery stores routinely are closed on Sundays, domenica. "Sempre aperto" means "always open."


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