They are actually meteors, remnants of comets that range in size from grains of sand to big rock chunks, that burn in Earth's atmosphere to dazzle our mid-August nights. These "falling stars" are a yearly ritual for Italians as they head into Ferragosto. All across the country, beaches and countryside are full of romantics who flock to dark places to get a glimpse of the predictable meteor shower.
As true Italians, they associate the event with a saint's birthday. In this case it's San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) who is celebrated on August 10th, but the whole week usual boasts great noctural light displays.
Watch this informational video created by Challenger Center in 2008 about the causes of this beloved Italian phenomenon.