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September in Italy


Article by Lynette Standley

Photography by Lynette Standley

Isn’t fall the best? I’m grateful for growing up where we have four seasons, and September is probably my favorite month. 

Colorful leaves, lingering warm days, football games, sweaters. For the past decade I’ve been fortunate to spend many Septembers in Italy. Similar to Boise, we find colorful vineyards, grape-filled baskets heading to the crusher and the roar of “football” crowds in every bar. 

This year’s September trips have been bumped, of course, but life and fall goes on—here and in Italy.

So here are some highlights from my favorite month in my favorite place, which many of my travel clients also have experienced:

White Truffles

In Tuscany and central Italy, it’s possible to hunt black truffles from May to October. But in September, the rare and valuable white truffles grow. We’ve hunted many times with hunters Luca and Andrea at Savini Tartufi, with their truffle dogs, Giotto and Birba. In September, leaves from the oak and hazelnut trees where we hunt are orange and gold, and the rich scent of fall fills the air. We will be back in the woods with them next year, and in the meantime, they sell many wonderful truffle products online if that helps fill the void—and brings a taste of Italy to your table.


The first time I had fresh figs off a tree was in Italy. Until that point, my only knowledge of figs was Fig Newton cookies. The walnut-size green teardrop was sweet, tender and juicy. I had no idea they were so delicious as a fresh fruit. I’ve bought them in stores here since then, but they don’t stand up to what I had. True of lots of fresh produce—best when it’s right off the tree/vine/plant. In Italy they have a movement along the lines of Slow Food called ZeroKM, meaning you eat what is available within one kilometer of home. A good practice (although in winter, it can get tricky.)

Grape Harvest

Throughout The Boot, September is prime time for grapes. The weather influences harvest dates, but vintners hope for pleasant, dry days leading up to it. When the time is right, the harvest is scheduled and friends, neighbors and hired hands turn out at once for a flurry of grape gathering. Sometimes it’s automated, but often grapes are harvested by hand, carefully selecting perfect bunches or culling those not cut out for this year’s vintage. Grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, often on-site, and they start their journey toward bottled excellence. 

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The activity, energy and scent of grape juice are invigorating. I recall having dinner at Tenuta San Francesco, above the Amalfi Coast, and harvest time coincided with our visit. Owner Gaetano was very apologetic about the noisy machines and all the activity around us, but we all thought it was perfect timing!

Andrea’s Birthday

Talented tenor Andrea Bocelli and I share a birthday, Sept. 22. Maybe that’s another reason behind my love of September and Italy. He is a beautiful human being, with an angelic voice, who has contributed greatly to the world of music. In fact, he built an outdoor theater near his hometown, Lajatico, Tuscany, where he holds an annual summer concert with guest performers. The remainder of the year it sits silent, open to visitors for picnics, solitude and walking the landscape. “In silence I heard a voice inside me,” he sings in Italian. 

September wraps up summer fun, sometimes dragging it out with an unexpected warm spell. It’s marked with colorful trees and dancing leaves that cover still-green lawns. It has a particular earthy fragrance. It tastes like butternut squash risotto. It feels like crisp mornings and short-sleeve afternoons and sounds like crowds enjoying their favorite pastime.

It also marks a seasonal change in this most-strange year of 2020. It takes us into the fourth quarter, where in the U.S. we elect a president, the world hopes for a vaccine, and we pray for an end to a global pandemic that will go down in history. I pray for kindness, too; peaceful hearts for all of humanity.

Here’s hoping you have a pleasant September. One year from now hopefully we can choose to partake in the grape harvest or attend a Bocelli concert or go truffle hunting. We will travel again. In the meantime, recall fond memories or cook favorite recipes that take you to your happy place.

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