I have never cared much for fall, as seasons go. The last of the warmth and sunshine from summer are slipping away, which means no more big, all-day outdoor adventures, no more relaxing outside without worrying about rain or cold, and the thought of a long winter ahead before it’s spring again. Summer is easy and carefree – shorts and a shirt and you’re good. Fall is when you start having to select clothes with care in order to avoid overheating or getting cold.
Fall in Padova, however, is, if still not my favorite season, at least one with some distinguishing characteristics that make it more pleasant. Having grown up in Oregon, with its fir and pine trees, you don’t notice the changing seasons in the landscape as much – just the transition from warm, clear summer days to murky, gray, wet winters. The nearby “Euganei” hills here in Padova, however, take on a new look with fall. They may not have the brilliant fall colors that the north eastern US is known for, but the crunchy brown leaves do make for pleasant walks, especially on one of the many days when the sun still puts in enough of an appearance to keep things pleasantly tepid. Indeed, the hills fill with people again after the summer season, when the most popular destinations are the beach or other vacation spots. During the fall, many people head out from Padova to gather chestnuts or mushrooms in the hills.
Indeed, it’s probably food that best characterizes the fall. During the summer, it’s really too hot for the feasts for which Italy is well known, with appetizers, a ‘primo’, ‘secondo’ (and sometimes more than one of each), salad, desert, all washed down with lots of wine. But in the fall, everyone’s back from vacation, it’s cooler outside, and passing the time with friends and family and good food is quite appealing.
Besides roasted chestnuts, one of the other culinary traditions in fall is the ‘vino novello‘, or ‘young wine’, which is actually a fairly recent creation, but it fits in well with the harvest season. Vino Novello is not wine to keep for years for some special occasion, but to be drink fresh, and indeed, has a very fresh and fruity flavor to it.
Fall is a good time to visit, too: torrid summer days can be very draining if you want to walk around to see the sites, and in August, most of the town’s residents have left for vacation in any case, so you won’t get a good feel of what life is like. Even later fall, as the sun wanes and gives way to chilly fogs, can be nice if you’re prepared for it. Indeed, nearby Venice is beautiful in a less “Disney-esque” way when wreathed in fog. It’s nice in the summer with sun and blue skies, but the darker version, with boats sliding out of the thick fog, and the inviting lights of bars where you can get an ‘ombra di ross’ (a glass of red wine) and something to eat give the city an added depth that its summer raiment does not.