Halloween…Italian style

There is no Halloween as we know it in Italy.  There are no carved pumpkins grinning from doorways or demented looking witches and demons on display.  Montepulciano boasts one shop which had a few masks and a couple of rubber spiders.  Despite this, however, in recent years some shopkeepers have gotten into the swing of providing candy to small clusters of trick o’treaters.  And there was much anticipation this year for Bonnie’s gang of five to show them how it’s done.  I was a little concerned beforehand because Caterina had told me that some of the less enthusiastic shop owners had sent kids away last year, so  I went around early in the day yesterday to shops where I’ve made acquaintances and covertly inquired whether they would be handing out candy in the evening.

Bonnie found costumes for the kids in Chiusi and organized some festivities with some of their classmates for last night.  I helped with the kids during the day and then took Natalie to a birthday party for one of her schoolmates.  Natalie went in costume and as I walked up the street with her in her orange witch ensemble, reactions were much the same as when I would dress up Cinder each year in New York:  disbelief coupled with amusement.  It didn’t seem to bother her that none of the other kids at the party were costumed.

While Halloween might not be high on the priority list here, hard on it’s heels comes All Saints Day, or the Day of the Dead.  This is today and is a national holiday.  It’s said to be the day when the souls of loved ones come back to the earth to visit.  Antonella’s shop has a special bread named for the day, pane della morte, which she’s been selling all month.  It sounds macabre but is basically a tasty raisin nut bread.

With the start of November also comes the annual harvesting of the olives.  And yes, it looks like I’ll be giving this a try as well.  My friends here have joked that it will be easier for me than the vendemmia since I’m tall and can easily reach the tree branches.  Speriamo!


My decided lack of artistic talent is on display in my sugar cookies for the kids


Natalie puts the finishing touches on her costume


Cinder is relieved that someone else has to wear the silly costume this year


Antonella with the pane della morte

3 thoughts on “Halloween…Italian style

  1. So does “feeling like anoutsider” suit you? Or do you wish you felt more untwined in the town and the culture?

  2. I do like being the outsider. It gives me license to do my own thing. I can make mistakes and faux pas and it’s all forgiven because I’m the American who just doesn’t know better. There’s something very liberating about that. I have become entwined with my little group of friends who regularly invite me for their coffee forays, so I think in time I will feel like I really belong here.

  3. Hi, Jen,
    It’s 2 pm on thanksgiving day; Linda and son Ezra are busy cooking and I have nothing to do (we are at middle son, Ezra’s apt in Atlanta; all three sons and families will congregate later in the day). So perused internet and found your blog, which hadn’t seen in a while. Dash is with her good friend Ani and will be ecstatic on our return despite having perfectly wonderful time in our absence. Dash had good time in Maine, being off leash 90+% of the time and roaming around yard (she doesn’t wander far away from her feeders and nourishers). She does continue to bark loudly at our neighbors everytime one of them pokes his or her nose outdoors. When we returned to the big city, she peed in the identical spot where she had before we left and, in general, behaved as if she hadn’t been away for a day. Please send me your email address so I can send a few pics. Love your blog photos. Looks like you are esteablishing yourself as a permanent part of the Tuscany village scene.
    Our love,

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