I took these pictures at a restaurant in Milan (with Instagram, of course). I was enjoying dinner and the company of friends when I noticed these insane bottles of wine! Can you see ‘em? They have images of Mussolini and fascist propaganda! Pazzesco! I’ve never seen anything like that ever before!
The buzz of several glasses of fascist wine prompted me to bring a bottle home, more out of curiosity than anything else. The girl at the restaurant who sold me the bottle asked me if I wanted a bag to carry it home. I told her that I was all set, and she responded, firmly but gently, “Take a bag. It’s better that way. You may piss some people off if they see you with that thing on the street.”
Yikes! What have I gotten myself into? I’m going to have to take the label off and flush it down the toilet before I place the empty bottle in the recycle bin!
It’s my absolute favorite month for many reasons! Here are the top ones:
cold “snuggle” weather that’s not quite as bone-chilling as winter
Luckily, I can enjoy these three things living in Italy just as much as I did when I lived in America. There are, however, some things that I really do miss about being in America, especially in New England, during the month of October.
This year in Italy we had the warmest September in the last 150 years. It’s true! If you don’t believe me check out the story from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. It’s in Italian though, so if you don’t speak Italian, you’re just going to have to go ahead and trust me on this one. Anyways, it was crazily warm here! I was going around in shorts and sleeping with the windows open until about two weeks ago. Even though this year was warmer than usual, autumn in general is less chilly than in Boston. I’m not sure if it’s because of the warmer temperature or different types of trees between The USA and Italy or even a combo of the both, but leaves here don’t put on that same spectacular show of changing into beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange like they do in Massachusetts. The leaves in Italy seem to go from green to brown overnight and then just drop to the ground without any fanfare. The leaves changing color is something that I really miss! Not only because it’s always cool to see, but because it was also a sort of “signal” for me that October was here and that my two favorite holidays are coming up. (Yes, I consider my birthday a private holiday).
Another thing that I really miss is cinnamonflavored Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, candy apples, and pumpkin spice anything (latte, cookie, pancakes …). I love all autumny-spiced foods! Every time I see an American friend’s Facebook status say something like “Having a hot pumpkin chai! Yum!” or see a picture they posted of them and their boyfriend/girlfriend making candy apples from the apples that they went and picked that weekend, I always think “That must be fun … insensitive jerk!”.
That said, there are some things that Italian October offers that American October doesn’t. One main thing, as I talked about in last year’s Halloween blog post, is the fact that the day after Halloween is a national holiday here, so you always have the day afterwards to rest up after your crazy Halloween party. Another thing is that you can find pumpkin ravioli and fried pumpkin flowers, which are both really delicious. Also, many small mountain towns in Italy have festivals in October where you can spend the day in the mountains wine-tasting and eating warm polenta. In fact, this year I went with my boyfriend and a couple of our friends to Morbegno for a fun wine-tasting where you get to go right into the cellars and sample the local wine accompanied by some brown breads and cheeses.
fried pumpkin flowers
So, it’s not a complete loss. There are plenty of ways to celebrate October right here in Italy, and fried pumpkin flowers are almost good enough to forget about the leaves not changing colors!
Today is the Festa di San Martinoin Italy (Feast of St. Martin). It’s a holiday to honor St. Martin, and it’s especially well-known and celebrated in Venice. I’m not really sure how I came to know about this obscure Italian holiday. I mean, you don’t even get the day off of work. I do know, however, that it’s become one of my favorite Italian traditions.
For me, this holiday is special because it represents something really “Italiany”, in the sense that it’s something that’s totally not celebrated in the USA. It’s really not the holy aspect of the Saint himself that interests me (though I’m sure he was a swell guy… I mean, he is a Saint!), but rather the tradition of the holiday.
Basically, for the Festa di San Martino, people celebrate by officially opening the bottles of vino novello (new wine). New wine is the wine that was recently bottled with that year’s grape harvest and it’s generally sweeter than aged wine. This vino novello is paired with roasted castagne (chestnuts). You can even put a warm roasted chestnut into your glass of new wine to let it soak up some of the flavor. It’s really buonissimo!
I have my own chestnut roasting pan and love making roasted chestnuts at home because then the whole house smells all chestnutty and autumny for days!