A few days ago I wrote about how I’m becoming an Italian homebody, preferring to stay close to home as opposed to going very far. We’ve actually been up to so much in October and November that I haven’t had time to share it all, even though it means a lot to me.
I realize that they are so many difficulties to moving abroad (especially if you already have a family) that often the positives get overshadowed. I wanted to dedicate this week to all of the simple yet incredible things I’ve done together with my son over the last few weeks to inspire newcomers to fully embrace living in Italy…. specifically in Emilia Romagna.
I think Modena is a stay at home mom’s paradise (wrote about that here)! So before you get too focused on the fact that the buses are always late, the trains are always filthy, it takes at least 5 visits to 5 different government offices to get any documents or even find out which documents you need….don’t forget:
YOU’RE IN ITALY … ENJOY LIFE!
This is the second year in a row that I have gone grape picking with my son in the countryside, to read about our first experience I wrote about it here. If someone had told me 10 years ago that one day I would be walking through a vineyard in Italy holding my toddler’s hand picking grapes, I would have told them….”wow you know me!” Kidding. But it really does feel like a dream come true.
“La Vendemmia” is how Italians refer to the time of year when all the grapes get picked for wine. When its time you know if. No one needs to tell you. You can smell the grapes in the air at the market as they overflow from the stalls. In Canada, I never had any idea which fruits or vegetables were in season, because the grocery store always had equal amounts of everything and everything always looks “perfect”.
But here it is unmistakable. Try asking for strawberries in the market in December and people will look at you like you are nuts. Much in the same way I can’t find the delicious, small, dark purple wine grapes that are used for Lambrusco wine anymore, because the vendemmia is over!
The Reason I Dressed
We headed to the Fattoria Centofiori in Modena. This is an incredible space and project that is basically an organic farm co-op. There is an organic restaurant on-site and a theatre space where one of Modena’s theatre groups has there offices and performs.
If you are coming to Modena with kids I really recommend checking out their facebook page or giving them a call to see if there are any events happening. A few weeks ago they made bread and YEAST from SCRATCH and on December 6th and 7th, 2014 there will be an Aerial Acrobatics Workshop, all info is available on their facebook page – FATTORIA CENTOFIORI.
The Vintage Harvest
We went to the Fattoria Centofiori’s Vendemmia workshop with our playgroup. We let the kids use their own scissors (brought from home) to snip off their chosen clusters and slowly fill our baskets.
There was a perfect light all around in the late morning as we walked through the rows of grapevines. I recommend participating in a Vendemmia to everyone I meet! If you can do it as part of an organized group in a Fattoria Didattica, all the better. I’ve written before about Italy’s Fattorie Didattiche (Learning Farms) here.
I didn’t realize that the way to translate “Vendemmia” from Italian to English is by saying “Vintage”, that’s pretty cool. And I found this picture on Wikipedia of a Medieval Grape Harvest ….it looks so familiar!
After we had our baskets and buckets full, we all walked in a long procession to a special open stage/ shed area.
Folk music played songs that are not tunlike fiddle based tunes you’d hear in Scotland! Picture the scene in Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are dancing in the ship’s hull on tables….the atmosphere was something like that!!
The kids danced, took off their socks, washed their feet in a bucket of water and headed into the cool, strange grapes. Pigiare “to press” is how Italians refer to the pressing and transformation of the grapes. Obviously this is no longer done in big industry, but what an incredible experience.
I just had to try….like nothing I’ve ever done before and I can’t wait to do it again.
One of the things that is still pretty different for me about life in Italy vs. life in North America is how real things are here. Nothing is ever just decoration. And just like that, when we had all finished pressing down our grapes, when at least 60 little and big feet had soaked until they were purple, we pour it all out.
Every last drop.
Into plastic water bottles everyone had emptied throughout our day of hard work.
And we drank it.
Freshly pressed lambrusco grape juice.
I love living here. The positives still outweigh the negatives.
What to Wear and Supplies to Bring
I highly recommend dressing in layers. I was cold in the morning, but by the time we really started working and the afternoon sun was out it was HOT! Wellies (rubber boots) are a must for both adults and kids. And I would recommend bringing a small towel, and change of socks, clothes for kids. You never know if they are going to FALL in the grapes!
I would recommend calling to ask if you need to bring your own bucket or scissors as well. We packed a picnic lunch, and after our hard work hung out for a bit at the farm. Some Fattorie Didattiche has restaurants on site!
If you’d like to visit the Fattoria Centofiori (meaning 100 hundred flowers farm)
You can find them at Strada Pomposiana 292, Modena, Italy