Mi piace Italia in Settembre

I love Italy in September!

Why did we come here in the freezing cold of December last year, when Itlay had been waiting for us in all its spring glory just a few months earlier?!

Regardless we are here now, and I am loving every second of it.

palio flagsSeptember is the month to be in Asti – a town of less than 80, 000 in the north of Italy.

Forty minutes from Turin, this is where my boyfriend Luca grew up and where his mother still lives in his childhood home.

Throughout September, the streets are decorated with 21 different flags representing the different districts in and around Asti.

The town is preparing for the annual Palio di Asti horse race held at the end of September, the oldest recorded bareback horse race in Italy dating back to the 13th Century.

street palio flags

In the two weeks leading up to the race, the town also puts on a wine festival.

Douja D’Or National Wine Festival brings together the best wine producers from the area, showcasing the town’s lifeline – vino.

Tonight is the opening of the wine festival.

We arrived at the right time.

After a lazy morning and full with breakfast, we cruised through the streets in search for coffee (on a scooter because it’s Italy).

scooter

scooter

Every couple of streets we came across a different set of flags hanging high above the road.

Apparently every couple of streets was a different district.

For each district’s flag, Luca was quick to point out their church, usually only a few streets from the last district’s church.

How a town of 80, 000 has enough people to fill all those churches is beyond me.

With a clear blue sky, sun light pouring over the streets and colourful flags overhead, this is a very different Asti to the dark and foggy ice-town I visited last Christmas.

ChurchAs soon as it hit 12, we had bubbles in our hands and enjoyed aperitivo (note: this is not even 2 hours after breakfast).

We sat in the sunshine in front of the bar, next to a house built in the 1100’s flaunting its arched windows, a distinctive characteristic of Roman architecture.

Only in Europe…

aperitivo

Walking the streets in the late morning, the streets had been filled with people strolling in and out of shops or drinking and eating in the bars, but come 1.30 and the streets were deserted until mid afternoon… it was lunchtime!

Luca’s mother even comes home from the office each day to enjoy her lunch – back home I sit at my desk and eat.

We continued aperitivo at Luca’s friend’s restaurant a few streets away.

Ordering our second round of bubbles, Luca’s friend asked if we wanted to eat – NO GRAZIE!

He promptly bought us out a pizza.

IMG_5541[1]Giddy with bubbles, we made our way home for lunch.

I am not kidding you.

Luca’s mother was taking her lunch break from work and had prepared us a feast.

We had to call her early in her preparations to tell her not to add a pasta dish to the already extensive spread.

Helping ourselves to another bottle of bubbles, we dug into marinated capsicums with anchovies, multiple salads, cold meats and breads.

Lunch

Full and exhausted from our strenuous morning, it was time for a nap.

Tonight we will repeat the morning’s activities of eating and drinking at the opening of the wine festival.

Mi piace Italia in Settembre.

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