“Ottobrata”: is this one of the best times to visit Rome?
Climate change, whether you believe in global warming or not, is something that Romans have to deal with on a daily basis: it has informed the way they dress, the way they eat and in a few instances has had a profound effect on the way they work… particularly with tourist season, if they’re active in that field (like us!).
Just a few years back, in fact, having travellers in troves visiting in October would have been unheard of. However, it’s now very common to observe queueing in front of famous museums as if it were the month of June, or seeing well-known restaurants pretty much booked up.
A rite with a long history
To the actual Roman, that is nothing new. When the weather was less crazy than it is today, locals already referred to a stretch of good weather as “ottobrate“, after the month of October.
Most importantly, they called “ottobrate romane” the daytrips that were specific to this time of the year, when it was still warm enough that one could enjoy a bit of traveling to reach areas of the city which were not yet densely inhabited as they are today, and could offer good food at a very good price.
Districts like Ponte Milvio, the area around the park at Villa Pamphilj, the part of the city outside Porta Pia or along Via Ostiense, leaving Rome behind, were the destination of many ottobrate, and as a matter of fact many of the landmark restaurants in said areas were, born out of necessity, to accommodate the numbers of Roman looking to stop and rest for a while. Case in point: Antica Trattoria Pallotta in Ponte Milvio, Biondo Tevere in San Paolo or Scarpone on the Janiculum Hill were all famous during those ancient ottobrate.
Ottobrate romane were also the time to reach areas that are further away from the city, such as the Alban Hills, Ariccia, Lake Bracciano and its surroundings or the Viterbo area: that’s where vineyards were, or food perceived to be more genuine than in the city. To this day, the rite of the ottobrata lives on when Romans leave for the countryside, to pick up grapes or olives when they own a patch of land. It’s also very common to use a Sunday morning to go walking in the forests surrounding Rome to pick up mushrooms (provided you have a valid license to do so) or chestnuts.
While a few farms or vineyards may be able to offer you a package to participate in olive or grape picking, if you’re not interested in such activities, know that October is a perfect time of the year to visit Rome anyway. You will enjoy a stunning time of the year, with dramatic sunsets and everchanging colours, you will be granted perfect weather almost every day and if you’d like to follow in the footsteps of those first daytrippers, you can even get to explore some of the outer neighborhoods, discovering a different Rome at every step.