While in Italy, you’ll often find a frequently-used word that may puzzle you at first: “feriale”, plural “feriali”.

The most common context in which you’ll see this word is in the days and hours of opening of shops, services, offices and so on.

You’ll read something like “Aperto giorni feriali 8 – 13”, which means “Open working days 8am – 1pm”.

“Feriale/i” doesn’t look similar to an English term, but in fact it is. “Feria” is an English word derived from the identical Latin term, which is used by the Catholic Church liturgy and means “weekday”. It is a day of the week not only other than Sunday, but also different from any other holiday (“holy” day), such as the feast of a particular saint on which a special liturgy (Mass) is celebrated.

Confusingly, in Italian the noun “feria” (not the adjective “feriale”) means vacation, especially used in the plural “ferie”, a synonym for “vacanze”.

And here’s another phrase you may find sometimes: “Chiuso per ferie” (Closed due to vacations/holidays).