Arrivederci Summer, Bentornato Fall!

Pomegranates - melegrane

Pomegranates – melegrane

As I sit on the balcony this early September evening, the tapping of the keys on my MacBook and a herd of goats off in the distance are the only sounds I hear. Nearly all of the tourists packed up their beach bags and umbrellas a week ago, giving us back our sparsely populated medieval village, oodles of parking spaces, and no lines at the two stores still operating up here.

Last Monday, I sipped my morning cappuccino at the bar, just the barista and me, during what a couple weeks prior had been “rush hour.” How lovely to have a real, unrushed conversation again with the barista.

The village loves tourists, of course, for the business and life they bring, but for quiet, private people who don’t work in the tourism industry like P and me, well, we’re just as happy to get our daily routines back come September. It’s kind of like having house guests—fun to have around for a while but then you just want your space to be all yours again.

What’s that I hear? Nothing. Glorious.

Out on the balcony, my shoulders catch a chill for the first time in months as the sun disappears behind the mountains. Before I walk the dogs to close up the chickens for the night, I will wrap a light sweater around me. A sweater!

What a strange and wonderful feeling to have covered arms again.

This Calabrian summer has been long and excruciatingly hot. Summers are always long and hot here, forest fires nearly constantly raging, but this year we had weeks and weeks and weeks of temps in the high 90s, low 100s—and no air conditioning. I felt like my mind was functioning at about 80% during my best hours; the rest of the time, I was fried.

Everything, absolutely everything, seemed slow-going. Slow-going and sweaty. Very, very sweaty.

On our walk, I catch myself smiling up at the stars as the dogs lead me to the garden. I inhale deeply, allowing the clean, crisp air to linger and tingle in my nose. I cherish each and every step. Walks are again a simple pleasure instead of a dreaded chore.

I hold on to this moment, surrounded and enveloped by peace and calm and joy.

Certain stresses and worries have been lifted away with the oppressive heat. Our campagna has survived another season of rampant flames, and our animals thrived despite the heat; a few nests of healthy chicks even hatched in the coop.

At Least You're in Tuscany by Jennifer CriswellDespite feeling restless and sleepy and uncomfortable for months, I can look back on my summertime accomplishments and feel a sense of pride, having pushed through not only the heat but also more of life’s little challenges that we never stop receiving:

I self-published an ebook for law school applicants; Gemelli Press is about to publish two books, a memoir called At Least You’re in Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell and Diana Strinati Baur‘s debut novel, True Vines; my personal statement services client roster is growing; I’ve continued to put up regular posts for; and I’ve even been working on my novel. Oh, and I did stick to my promise to take weekends off. It was awesome.

Still, I’m really not sorry to see summer go. I just love the fall for that injection of new energy, a final push toward reaching any 2012 goals that haven’t yet been achieved.

That back-to-school mentality never does seem to leave us, does it?

This will be my tenth autumn in Calabria so I know perfectly well that the hot weather isn’t completely behind us; we’ll probably still have at least one last burst of unbearable days mixed in with these more manageable but still-pretty-hot-if-you’re-in-the-sun-temps. Nights, however, have turned the corner.

There’s no denying fall is on its way.

The jarring of tomatoes and eggplants and peperoncini has begun and will continue for the next couple weeks. Figs and tomatoes are drying in the sun while pomegranates ripen and prickly pears stretch their summer out as long as they can. Those adorable little furry balls holding chestnuts are starting to appear in montagna, and with just a bit more rain, we’ll be seeing porcini and other mushrooms sprouting up as well.

Soon enough, vendemmia, the grape harvest, will come and go. P and I are thinking about buying grapes or even il mosto this year to make wine for the first time; we don’t have a vineyard, but P’s father made wine for years and years, so all the equipment we need is in the cantina—and all the expertise is in P’s and his dad’s heads.

And then will come the olive harvest, my favorite time of year. Around here they say that with olives, it is “un anno sì, un anno no,” which means you have a good harvesting year, followed by a not-so-good year. Last year was very good to us, so if this proverb holds true, this season we won’t have much to pick, but we’re still hoping to get enough for a pressing. There’s just nothing like drizzling your own olive oil over toasted bread rubbed with garlic.

But all of that will come in due time.

This evening, here on the balcony, as I pull my sweater a little tighter around me and sip my chai, I’m totally in the here and now, and all I’m thinking about is whether it’s time to put the flip flops aside for a pair of ballerina flats, for the evenings at least.

When my toes get chilly, there’s no mistaking fall is coming.

Welcome back, dear friend.

57 Beans of Wisdom to “Arrivederci Summer, Bentornato Fall!”
  1. 09.10.2012

    What a wonderful post to welcome the fall. I can almost feel the calm you are sharing instead of the rushed “back to school” environment coming from all the advertisements here. Thanks.

    michelle Reply:

    I think it probably helps that I don’t have kids going back to school! Ha!

  2. Lark

    I am so looking forward to fall, too. It has been extra hot the last few weeks here in Southern California, and it has come with an unusual dose of humidity. Yuck! I can’t wait until I can make that first pot of roasted butternut squash soup. It is such a great time of year.

    michelle Reply:

    Wishing you some cool air, Lark! Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. 09.10.2012

    a most beautiful post, michelle,….a real love letter to autumn and life over here with her ebbs & flows.

    michelle Reply:

    Grazie, sperlygirl xx

  4. 09.10.2012

    My toes are chilly this morning, too. It’s the first time in months & like you I welcome the arrival of autumn with open arms & a happy heart. Every season has its plusses, but for me, fall is the best.

    michelle Reply:

    I waver back and forth between fall and spring as my favorite, but because I dislike the brutal heat more than the cold, fall wins, I think, because of the respite it offers.

  5. 09.10.2012

    How beautifully described, these changing sensations. I too have felt my brain seep away over the summer. It has been so hot. Sleeping under a fan drives me nuts and me too, I am glad to cover up my arms, glad to pop a cardigan into my bag for evening trips into town.

    Only too soon it will be chilly. Time to shift plants and trim the grass for the last time. I love the September skies. I don’t mind going back to school in my head. Winter cooking, winter reading, back to the piano with sturdy cool hands.
    Thanks for these thoughts!

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks Catherine; we have a longer fall here, usually, and a short winter, so we have a while before it gets light-the-stufa cold…though there are pluses to that kind of weather as well 🙂

  6. 09.10.2012

    Beautifully written.

    Grazie dio for fall! This summer was brutal.

    I know what you mean about the tourists. Well, they’re still here but at least all my friends are back in town and favorites places have re-opened. Everyone is rested and tan and there’s a great energy in the city despite the crisis.

    Good luck with your olive harvest.

    michelle Reply:

    Grazie cara…yes you still have those tourists year-round, but it must be wonderful to have all the “right” people back around you 🙂

  7. 09.11.2012

    The transition from summer to fall is bittersweet for me. Much as I love the changing of the seasons, the vibrant foliage, the crisper weather, simmering soups on the stove, there’s something so carefree about summer – the beach, the vegetables from the garden, daily swimming – that I feel wistful for it. I find it hard to set aside those flip-flops, so your post hit home with me.

    michelle Reply:

    I still have the flip flops out for daytime, Linda…so I haven’t said good-bye just yet 😉

  8. 09.11.2012

    Michelle this takes me right back to when my mother and I ran Villas in Eastern Crete in the late 1980s and 1990s. That first hint of Autumn is such a joyous visceral feeling. All these years later, I can still smell the first waft of cool air as it swept down the hills covered in dried oregano and thyme. Back to normality – back to another reality – a time to breathe your own air again and just be. Until the end of winter – when that first day when there is no chill in the air heightens the sense and sends shivers of anticipation down your spine – summer is on it’s way! Only in Europe do I ever feel alive with the seasons! Such Bliss! Enjoy and thank you so much for the wonderful memories. Ciao F x
    PS Can’t wait for Diana and Jennifer’s books!

    michelle Reply:

    That’s really lovely, Francesca; I can’t say I’ve ever felt the seasons so dramatically when I lived in the United States…something so comforting about the cyclical, predictable nature of things over here 🙂

  9. 09.11.2012

    Though I have only a little experience of Italy in the fall I feel like I know it now — very evocative.

    michelle Reply:

    Thank you, Leigh; I hope you get to experience more of it…it’s lovely 🙂

  10. Gil

    Loved what you wrote! I look forward to Fall, but could never get the point across as eloquently as you.

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks so much, Gil 🙂

  11. 09.11.2012

    A lovely post to welcome Autumn, however although I enjoy the season I do not welcome it in the way you do, I am always sad to see summer coming to an end.
    The old wives tale about the olive harvest seems to be true, ours was excellent last year and this year thanks to the drought and other unusual weather conditions it is so poor we do not think we will even harvest!

    michelle Reply:

    Hope you do get at least a little harvest, LLM…seems so sad to think of a fall without one at all!

  12. SW

    Great post, Michelle – you really made me feel like I was there!

    I’m looking forward to Fall this year, too, since I’m moving back to VA (which is *really* beautiful, this time of year).

    michelle Reply:

    Ooh Virginia is a lovely fall place indeed; used to go through it on my way home to PA for fall break/Thanksgiving from college in NC 🙂

  13. 09.11.2012

    I know what you mean, Michelle, about reclaiming your village after the tourists have left. It’s always nice to have the barista to oneself! 🙂

    michelle Reply:

    I really get used to the no lines and no-rush in the off-season, that’s for sure!

  14. 09.11.2012

    Aaah. My favorite time of year. And it’s so true. Even though I say that I love heat and summer, the humid summers of southern Italy could make we wait impatiently for fall.

    Can’t wait to read your novel!!

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks Barbara! Working hard on the novel 😀

  15. I love September and the changes it brings–the weather, the food and the clothing. Chilly toes is a sure sign of autumn.

    michelle Reply:

    Hee hee…love being able to cover up the toes after so many months of them bare 🙂

  16. Calabrian Kathleen

    Wow, Michele, you accomplished a lot, despite the intensity of your Calabrian summer. Awesome! I look forward to reading both books you are publishing thru GP. And your words about Calabria stayed with me all day – I can feel the clean, crisp air and visualize the countryside as it shifts into autumn. Thank you so much. I love my link to that place thru your words.

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks Kathleen! Right now, a couple weeks after I wrote this post, we have returned to the summer-type heat, but hopefully we’ll be back to “real” fall soon!

  17. 09.12.2012

    Still warm enough to wear short sleeves but not too hot to make outside unbearable. Perfect!

    michelle Reply:

    Exactly! I call this “wear-whatever-you-want” weather…seems like you could be in just about anything and be comfy. Love it!

  18. Michelle, I’ve been terribly behind on reading my favorite blogs – so glad to get caught up on yours. As always, your posts and pictures are fantastic. I love your writing and your spirit. Days are still hot on the island, but I can detect a slight coolness edging into the evenings! Cheers to a wonderful fall.

    michelle Reply:

    Hope you’re getting some relief, Dawn; as always, thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  19. 09.14.2012


    Thank you so very much for your sharing your feelings and thoughts on the transition of summer to fall. Your thoughts and ideas seem to be just what many of us needed or wanted to hear.

    Here in SW Florida the shift has not quite yet full occurred…the ground water is about 4 degrees cooler this week. That is my gauge for the impending change. That means my days for laying around the swimming pool in the early afternoon may be numbered.

    It seems that this time of the year and the temperature of the surroundings waters nearly mimics those conditions on Isola di Capri, our first love of Italia….the waters around the island are just a tad cooler but the temperature and angles of the sun are the same.

    So kinda like this time in SW Florida for the memories and thoughts that it brings for us both. Again, I appreciate your personal efforts to share with all of us out here in “not in Italy land”. Mille grazie.

    Love and Light,

    michelle Reply:

    And thank you, Richard. Yes, can always tell the changing temps by the sea/ocean water…hope you’re enjoying early fall!

  20. Tyana

    My favourite time of the year is autumn and I always look forward to March and April when the leaves begin to fall off the trees and there is a hint of a chill in the air.
    For me, autumn is a memory as there is a hint of warmth in the air as our summer approaches. Although a joy after a long winter, I hope it doesn’t extend to a copy of the summer you have endured in Calabria. For me at least it will be shorter than usual as I plan to travel to Southern Italy in February. Hopefully your winter won’t be too cold I will get to enjoy the warmth of spring in the northern hemisphere

    michelle Reply:

    February can be nasty with wet weather, but it’s not usually *too* cold. Hope it’s manageable for you!

  21. 09.18.2012

    what a beautiful post. I had been looking forward to fall as well. but as always it didn’t last. after the first few cold days I am ready to go back to summer. but I guess your southern fall is something different altogether. enjoy 🙂

    michelle Reply:

    I actually prefer winter to the really hot summer, so I don’t mind as much when the weather turns cold…still I prefer that fall and spring are stretched out as long as they can be!

  22. 09.19.2012

    Hey Michelle!

    Being a transplanted Cali girl myself I find the changing of the seasons absolutely fantastic. I love and appreciate how time seems to pull you forward with the leaves changing colors. It certainly is perfect weather though today!

    Take care my friend!


    michelle Reply:

    Thx for chiming in Julie…glad you can enjoy the fall here; hope the nice weather continues 🙂

  23. 09.21.2012

    I love the bit about that feeling of having your arms covered again. It’s really an odd feeling after a scorcher of a summer. I look forward to reading your future posts. I’ll be back!

    michelle Reply:

    Benvenuta Beatrice 🙂

  24. 09.26.2012

    A lovely discription of autumn!

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks Sue!

  25. 09.26.2012

    What lovely thoughts on the change of season and passing of time. Reading this was a great way to start my day. Thanks, Michelle.

    michelle Reply:

    Grazie mille!

  26. 09.26.2012

    Finaly the fall has came and that awful summer heat is gone! :-))

    michelle Reply:

    We’re having a bit of a revisit of the summer, just as I knew would come…but hopefully within the next few days, we’ll really be in fall for a while 🙂

  27. Glady sansone

    Reading your post makes me so homesick for Calabria. We were there for the hot August,visiting my husbands home of Fuscaldo. We have been married for 46 yrs and always lived in Ohio. We have visited Fuscaldo usually in September but this year we went in August and experienced the hot hot weather but the joy of going to the beach everyday. The gardens produced abundant vegetables and fruit and Every other day there were baskets of pears and figs. My brother in law even found fungi one day in the mountain and we had fungi and eggplant that evening.
    While we were there we started making plans to return in 2013 and live there for one year. I look forward to the change of seasons, the making of wine, the many different ways to preserve figs, the caning of tomatoes, the making of sausage after the slaughter of the hog. I am told that the wind is brutal during the winter but it can’t be any worse then the winter in Cincinnati.
    We have a house to live in so the plans are moving forward. I long to be able to put on a sweater a year from now and experience fall in Calabria.

  28. 10.05.2012

    Michelle, Fall in New England is incredible and right now, the leaves are brilliant! I admit, though, that I am a summer girl and tend to go kicking and screaming into fall when we have to stow our boat and batten down the hatches for winter.

    This year, I am accepting the changes with more grace than usual and am savoring the color and crispness in the air. This weekend, we will climb into trees and pick apples, check out the apple cider made every year by an 80-something local man and tour art studios up near Monadnock Mountain in New Hampshire. I love the casualness of Massachusetts and will look for Mr. Price’s card table by the road with jugs of fresh cider on it and put my money in the Cool Whip container with a rock on top. Then it will really be Autumn.

    I read your prologue at Gemelli Press and will watch for the Nook version they promise. I am so intrigued! With your sense of humor, it will be a joy to read. Can’t wait!

  29. 10.08.2012

    I smiled when I saw your “wonderful feeling to have covered arms again.” The heat finally broke last friday here in Los Angeles and when I went out to the movies to see the 50th Anniversary screening of Lawrence of Arabia … I wore a cardigan!!! And a little hat! I was beside myself!

    Lovely post, and welcome fall, indeed!

    michelle Reply:

    Ooh a hat! Exciting! Enjoy your fall, Lucinda 🙂

  1. [...] she’s not on WordPress so I can’t reblog, only suggest that you go check out her post: http:...



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Pasta with snails alla calabrese
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