What is Siesta?
The tradition of napping dates back thousands of years, with modern-day siestas originating in Spain. The name comes from the Latin ‘hora sexta’, which means “the sixth hour.” Since the hours of the day begin at dawn, the sixth hour is noon, which is when siestas often start.
High temperature in Italy
Siesta in Italy is a necessity and the reason is that around 2pm, the heat temperature reaches its peak and it is simply too hot to be outside. Hence the locals take a siesta and wait in the comfort of their own homes for the heat to subside.
However, nowadays this is not always the case. Siesta has gone from being a necessity to a luxury and even a habit. Because the working day is broken up, the modern siesta is the time working people go home and spend time with their family or friends, and not necessarily take a nap. Often, families will use it as a time to have a long family lunch.
However, to many tourists, it is merely a cause of frustration and confusion. Between the hours of 2pm and 5pm, Italy shuts down to allow the locals to rest after a long and hectic morning and prepare for the busy afternoon. Meanwhile, the common tourist invariably chooses this time to stroll the streets for their souvenir-shopping, newspaper or sightseeing, only to find the shops closed and the streets empty.
Siesta in Italy is called ‘riposo’. During ‘riposo’, most museums, churches, shops, businesses—just about everything except restaurants—lower the shutters and lock the doors so that proprietors can either go home (or head to a local trattoria to drink some coffee) for a long lunch and perhaps a snooze during the day’s hottest hours. This traditional early afternoon shutdown varies from business to business, but usually lasts about 90 minutes to two hours. It may begin anywhere from noon and 1:30pm and run until anywhere from 2:30 to 4pm.