September is considered by many the real New Year’s celebration—and Italians are no exception. After the summer vacations—very long vacations, if you happen to be a student—and the lazy, sweaty summer schedule, September brings resolutions, plans, hopes, and a more regular lifestyle. And it is back-to-school month, of course. Every region has its own calendar, but Italians students normally go back to school at some point in mid-September. After two shaky and difficult years, 2022 back-to-school will be the closest to normal—at least the new normal. But besides back going to school, what do Italians do in September?
Festivals: Music & Culture
September is not that hot anymore —at least, not as consistently hot as July and August have lately been— so it’s the ideal month for concerts, festivals, and the like. Among the most popular gatherings taking place this month there is Festivaletteratura, a literary festival held in lovely Mantova, featuring authors from all over the world. Mantova is in Lombardia, and its whole centro storico (old town) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, it is close to Lake Garda, so it’s a cultural as well as naturalistic must-see destination. And in Ferrara, which is close enough to Mantova, there’s another super popular September event: the Ferrara Buskers Festival, a street performer festival combining art and music. Ferrara is a lovely Emilia-Romagna city with a perfectly preserved historical center dominated by the Estense Castle and rich in monuments, old buildings, and bikes! Ferrara is, indeed, the “city of bicycles,” with one of the most interesting bike tours of the city along its more-than-five-mile-long defensive walls that date from Medieval and Renaissance times.
Food: Always a good idea
There’s no month in Italy without plenty of food-related events. Italy has diverse landscapes and climates, so every season, every month—at times, even a specific week— has its own specialty to celebrate. In addition to many “open cellar” events (September marks the beginning of grape harvest, so it’s the best excuse to promote local wines), there are countless sagre (country festivals) that combine food and local cultures and customs. Asti in Piemonte hosts the Festival delle Sagre, which celebrates Piedmont’s cuisine (read: boiled meat, raw meat, cheese, and truffles) and features a parade in traditional costumes. Dozza, a little town close to Bologna and known as il paese dei murales (the town of murals), hosts the Festa delle Arzdore, a food festival devoted to the Emilia-Romagna food tradition, in particular the one from Bologna (lasagne anyone?). The name arzdore is worth an explanation: In the Romagna dialect, arzdora was the housewife, the angel of the house, the pillar of the family, the one who kept everything together and in good shape. A legendary and Fellini-like figure, the arzdora is still a thing. It has local variations, at least in term of the word itself (rezdora, rasdora, arzdoura, arzdora, zdaura) but all share one central feature: she rules.
September, or back-to-normal
Sure, festivals and sagre are the coolest things, but September is, for many Italians, the back-to-normal month. Normal can be very different of course: Italians living by the sea may enjoy “their” sea and beaches pretty much by themselves after the crazy August crowds; city people might appreciate their urban routine of parks, cafes, or simply meeting friends. September is good for day trips, but also for just-doing-nothing cool evenings or afternoons. October will mark the official back-to-full-schedule era, with soccer classes, English courses, and yoga sessions, but September lies in a comfortable in-between place, perfect for making plans with the energy and good mood coming from the summer rest. Plus, another vacation is just around the corner: November 1 is All Saints’ Day, and in 2022 it falls on a lucky Tuesday, which means … ponte! By taking Monday off, you’ll have a four-day long weekend, and the beginning of November is still warm enough virtually everywhere in Italy. But for now, might we all enjoy our calm, sweet settembre!
By Claudia Quesito