I’ve said that there’s usually some kind of festival going on somewhere in Italy at any given moment, and for the most part that’s true. For the most part, that’s also a regional thing. There are some holidays, however, which shut down the entire country as everyone celebrates, no matter where you live. Labor Day is one of those holidays.
Like most countries, Italy celebrates its Labor Day on the 1st of May, also called May Day. While the idea of “May Day” has different meanings depending on where you are in the world, in much of Europe it is synonymous with the labor movement. In Italian, this day is called “Festa dei Lavoratori,” and while its roots might be noble, it is sometimes (not always) just treated like Labor Day or Memorial Day in the United States… In other words, it’s a day off from work and a long weekend.
For more information on what’s behind this long weekend, we go to the wise and inscrutable Wikipedia:
A Labour Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.
In Italy, May 1 is national holiday, demonstrations of the trade unions are widespread. Since the ’90s, the trade unions organise a massive free concert in Rome, with attendances topping a million people.
I don’t know how people celebrate outside of Rome, but that sounds like a grand party to me.
Here is the Italian Wikipedia entry on the Festa dei Lavoratori, too, if you’re feeling adventurous.