The Sensual Seduction of Fall

Mother Nature is giving us one last sensory overload before the dark and quiet of winter. Colors are vibrant but tinged with decay. The air carries the scent of earth and smoke; the smell of sunlight and freshness is relegated to the back of the closet along with t-shirts and sandals.

Our Umbrian fall smells of abundance.

Chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, grapes, fresh olive oil, the last bits of the orto, the calming, restful smell of the heavy morning mists all beg you to slow down and get ready for winter.
Fall fod
It also means it’s time for us to go back to NY. I’m saving up all these smells so I have something to remember when we go back.

The prickly smell of wood smoke, that little tickle it makes in the back of the throat, this defines the smell of Montone once the days are cool and the nights long. It’s what people talk about when they remember Montone, ringing bells and wood smoke.  Some people still heat their houses and water with wood fires because they never joined the community gas line when it was put in, so we still need our wood cutters. The thunderous rattle of a tractor load of wood being dumped in front of Carla’s house is a famliar sound in town.
Wood smoke


When I open the bottle that holds our freshly pressed olive oil, I’m back in the olive grove, I’m back at the mill inhaling that strangely euphoric smell. We were at the mill last week, and I swear that smell releases endorphins. Everyone is happy, the workers are smiling, the people waiting are excited to get their oil, there is a contagion of happiness and expectation.
Our booty
Truffle pimps

Of course there is the earthy, sexy, urgent smell of truffles. Citta di Castello’s annual “Tartufi Bianchi”, “White Truffles” festival is an olfactory bacchanal. Greedy eyes and noses suck up the wanton wafts of truffle drenched air that linger and seduce as you walk by. “Hurry up, smell me, I’m perfect right now, eat me tonight.” You know the temptress truffle is right, and you empty your wallet and bring her home.
Black & white truffles

Building a fire and grilling meat seems like the proper way to welcome guests to dinner.  We’re drenching grilled bread with our fresh, bright, green olive oil, It’s time for sipping new wines, and then going back to drinking an aged wine because how much youth can one tolerate?
Grilled meat

My finger tips are blackened from cracking open roasted chestnuts, and cleaning fall artichokes; Jeff’s fingers are rough and grubby from cleaning out the orto.

I suppose it really is time for us to clean up, put on our fancy clothes and head back to city life. Of course, Raffaello is already packed and ready.
Viva la differenza! Rafaello dello Spillo


Posted in ,


  1. Jamie Schler on November 14, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Ah, now I have figured out how to leave a comment and on this one I must! Your evocative, sensual descriptions explain why fall is my absolute favorite of seasons and I long for all of those magical smells. And Italy, her exuberance, her abundance, her sensuality. Beautiful post and how sad to leave. I must come and find you in your beautiful Umbria next year.

  2. Jeanne @ CookSister! on November 24, 2011 at 4:23 am

    What gorgeous descriptions (and yes, truffles do literally call out to your nose, don’t they??) Some wonderful lines in there, not least of which being “how much youth can one tolerate?” – bwhahaha. I think I have a crush on Rafaello… :o)

Leave a Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

If you agree to these terms, please click here.