October in Rome: what is Ottobrata Romana

Ottobrate romane were originally October day trips to Rome's countryside.

The expression "ottobrata romana" generally conjures up images of basking in Rome's Indian summer sunshine in October.

However the phrase has its origins during the time of the traditional vendemmia, or grape harvest for wine, when Romans would hop on horse-drawn carts and head to vineyards outside the city walls for wine-soaked festivities.

This tradition, which lasted until the first decades of the 20th century, normally took place on Sundays - sometimes also Thursdays - and revolved around large meals featuring Roman specialities such as gnocchi, abbacchio (lamb), and tripe.

Central to the ottobrate romane day trips, however, was the liberal consumption of wine, with some historians claiming the tradition can be traced back to the Bacchanalia feasts of the ancient Romans.

The revellery was topped off with music, song, dance and games, lasting until late into the night.

It might be hard to imagine now but traditional countryside destinations for the ottobrate romane included Monte dei Cocci in Testaccio and the vineyards just outside Rome's gates at Porta Pia, Porta S. Pancrazio, Porta S. Giovanni and Ponte Milvio.