Autumn in Italy is a delightful time of year! Warm, balmy, and usually good beach weather through most of September. They’re known as Roman Octobers. Or sometimes Roman Summers, much like the Indian Summers we used to enjoy back in the USA.
Early Sunday mornings during the Roman Octobers of the early 1900s, families piled into horse-drawn carts. They were off to the countryside feasts! Known for their typical October weather, warm and balmy (even hot at times) the Roman Octobers drew (and still does) people to the great outdoors.
It was time to celebrate the grape harvest’s end! Because that, after all, was the reason for the Roman October feasts. Feasts of gnocchi, chicken, tripe, and mutton that the inn keepers were preparing since before the break of dawn. All ready to wash down with last year’s wine.
Because the whole purpose of the feasts was to finish off the old wine, making room for the new!
Where would they put the new wine if they didn’t first drink up the old? And Italians, who always love a celebration, found this a perfect excuse! And so spent the day eating and drinking. And playing games, like bocce, tumble and roll, and climb the greased pole. And of course no feast, whether in the countryside or the city, could ever lack singing, dancing, and story-telling.
The Roman October tradition has died off to a large degree.
But around Rome you can still find agriturismi (agriturisms) that hold Roman October feasts. So if you’re ever there in beautiful, balmy October, be sure to look for one! Head out to the Roman countryside and visit some of the likely places. Places like: Colli Albani/Castelli Romani, Rocca di Papa, Frascati, o Castel Gandolfo (which we found quite charming). You’ll be glad you did!
But pay close attention! Because these days when someone says, “Ma che bell’Ottrobata romana” (What a pleasant Roman October!) — they are probably referring to the weather! Because October weather here is usually fantastic! Who doesn’t like 81°F (27°C) in mid-October?
So the Roman October can either be an October food fest, or lingering summer-like weather. And both are both great delights!
Images: Wikimedia Commons – both Roman cart & Saltarello dance in the Public Domain.