“Are there any:
In Milan or nearby?”
This post on an expat women’s group perfectly explains fall in America. Those are the fall activities. That is how you celebrate a temperate climate’s best season.
Fall in Ohio means weekend trips to the orchard, spiked apple cider and getting lost in corn mazes long past an acceptable age to be doing corn mazes. Every basic witch on Instagram is showing off their fall decor and listen, even if you hate it, pumpkin spice flavoring still seems to be going strong.
In America, that is.
Here in Italy it’s an entirely different story.
No overpriced autumn decor here. No 31 days of Halloween. No Thanksgiving.
I’ve always struggled with the loss of my favorite season to Italy – it’s like the entire country decided that it’s not worth celebrating – so I can understand why an expat would still seek these things out.
But autumn isn’t ignored by Italians, it’s just celebrated differently.
Autumn in Italy means long hikes in the Alps with perfect weather. It means a respite from the steaming hot summer weather. It means mushrooms in every dish. It means chestnuts.
Yeah, as in “chestnuts roasting over an open fire.”
You can find chestnut vendors on most Italian streets from mid-autumn well into winter, and though I’ve never had a taste for them, Italians love them. Because like pumpkin patches and apple orchards, chestnuts are an autumn tradition.
Of course in America you can buy a bag of apples at the store, put on a flannel and sip a pumpkin spice latte any day, but the specialness of autumn is dedicating a day to enjoy the crisp air, pick out a pumpkin and buy apple cider from a nice farmer. The same goes in Italy. You can get some overpriced chestnuts at any store, but the event is to go looking for them yourself!
So, on a beautiful 70°F fall day (my kind of autumn weather!) we gathered the troops and drove about 45 minutes north into the foothills of the Alps. We’re not diehard chestnut foragers, but Sunday day-trippers looking to enjoy the weather and roast some chestnuts together afterwards, and the place we chose was just that kind of place. We joined the crowds already parked in the forest with no enmity – there were enough chestnuts for everyone!
We scooped up the spiky balls off the forest floor, opening them through gloved hands to protect from the needles and dropping the chestnuts into whatever bag or backpack we brought along. The bigger, the better!
Once Adeline fell asleep in her backpack I took advantage of the touristy destination and headed to the cabin-turned-cafè nearby to enjoy a beer and the view.
Though technically different than a day spent filling your trunk with pumpkins and homemade canned goods, the idea was the same. Sun-kissed, warmed from the foraging and the beer and satisfied with our haul, we went back home to eat some chestnut gnocchi, drink a damn-good bottle of Amarone Valpolicella and roast our hand-picked chestnuts!