To this day people refer to the ottobrata romana (Roman October) when speaking of a mild, still warm autumn day. Little do people know that while it basically has the same meaning as “Indian summer”, the origin of the term is only indirectly related to the weather.
Up until about one hundred years ago, the ottobrate romane were peculiar Roman October Sunday celebrations. Seven or nine women from an extended family and/or group of friends would climb into a horse drawn carriage, with the men following on foot carrying drums and other musical instruments. The entire cacophonous party would head fuori porta (outside the gates/doors) to the Roman wine-growing countryside for a day at the osterie (taverns) together… for a day of eating, drinking, singing and dancing the saltarello (the little hop). The excuse was that vendemmia (the grape harvest) was around the corner, and the osterie needed to get rid of last year’s wine to make space in the barrels for the new wine.
Little did they know that they in turn were carrying on the Ancient Roman religious celebration of the Salii, the “jumping priests” (hence the dance’s name) of Etruscan origin that paraded and then banqueted around the walls of the city.
Old stories lost in time, of course, but a fun tidbit to think about while enjoying those still-sunny enjoyable October Sunday picnics when someone says “Ma che bella ottobrata romana!” (What a pleasant Roman October!)