By September into October, Italians begin VENDEMMIA, the grape harvest. Across Italy, there are 20 regions that specialize in growing grapes, with approximately one million vineyards. These grapes are transformed into some of the finest wines, made for domestic and international consumption. November brings the olive harvest, thousands upon thousands of olives are harvested during this time and transformed into olive oil or cured for winter storage. Vegetables are also pickled and saved for cooler days.
Another famous harvest tradition is that of the truffle, the enigmatic and treasured mushroom. In northern and central Italy, truffle hunters release their dogs to hunt sniff their ways to finding this delicacy, hidden in the undergrowth of the woods. As winter approaches, the final harvests are of citrus fruits: oranges, tangerines, clementines, etc. These bright fruits capture and hold sunshine for the dark winter months ahead.
The harvest is undoubtedly tied to culinary traditions in Italy. Even today, there are many food festivals to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. Across the country, there are fairs that focus on specific specialty foods, such as truffles, as well as competitions for handmade pastas. All through autumn, foods such as roasted chestnuts, cheesy crepes, brined olives, and high-quality extra virgin olive oils are enjoyed.