As you may know, Italy, like France, almost shuts down during the month of August. I have never taken a vacation in Italy in this month. The 15th, or Ferragosto, is the peak of vacation time. Not a good idea to be there this week, when you consider the heat (coupled with the scarcity of air conditioning), the crowds, the closed shops and services, and the higher prices. The government itself has tried to get the natives to stagger their vacations, with limited success. Its campaign goes by the name of "partenze intelligenti," or smart departures.
In the cartoon above, the snide Altan has the man on the left say: "This year we're doing a smart departure." To which the other man answers, "Why, aren't you coming?"