Italian Fall

Fall in Italy, and specifically Tuscany, is like no other place on Earth. 

It starts with one vine, way down in the valley, and then like a wildfire, it spreads to the next one over and then the whole row and the one next to it and before you know it, the valley is streaked with color: ablaze with one last crescendo before winter.

I think the Fall is the best time to visit Italy: the weather is perfect, everything is freshly harvested and the countryside is painted with greens, yellows, reds, purples and every color in between. 

The Italians love the Fall. It's the season when grapes and olives are harvested, an event that permeates to the core of who they are as a people. In the Fall, go to a restaurant and if they don't bring it out on their own, ask for olio nuovo, or freshly pressed olive oil. They bring it in a clear bottle (note: olive oil should be stored in a dark bottle to protect from light, so this is a big deal) so you can see the bright, almost neon green colored liquid inside. The oil should be tasted just as it is or on plain bread. When it hits your mouth it floods your senses, covering your palate, the aroma working its way into your sinuses. It's sharp, peppery, tangy and full of so much flavor.  It's not at all what you would expect olive oil to taste like.

The oil only has this flavor for a few months after being pressed and for the best flavor, should be used as quickly as possible. 

Just like the short life of the 'new oil,' so the peak of an Italian Fall lasts only a little while as well. After two weeks or so, everything is harvested and the grape vines slowly turn to brown, the fall garden parties are no more and the countryside settles in for winter. Just as spectacularly and unannounced it's arrival was, so swift is too the end of an Italian Fall.