IT’S SEPTEMBER already – where is the year going?

For some of us, some things are starting to feel like normal again. For others life is still strange, and the idea of a holiday (aside from staycations) is somewhere between a distant memory and not on the cards for the foreseeable future.

While many of us would love nothing more than to pack our bags and jet over to Italy for a summer holiday, understandably things just aren’t that simple at the moment, so I thought it might be nice to give you a glimpse into what a September holiday in Italy might look like in different areas.

Hopefully, by the time you have read this, and cooked yourself up some authentic Italian cuisine, you may just feel like you’ve had a taste of a summer holiday (if only it were that simple, but we can certainly give it a go).

September really is a great time to visit Italy. The weather is still fantastic – although not as sweltering as it can be at the height of summer – and there are plenty of annual events and festivals to attend.

First of all, on September 4 we have the Ferrara Balloon Festival. This balloon festival is kind of a big deal, with teams travelling from far and wide to participate in the epic balloon race.

Seeing all of the colourful hot air balloons dotted around the sky really is a sight to behold, and watching them race really is something special. The race starts at the beautiful Bassani Urban park, and there’s so much more than just the balloons to enjoy. Festival goers can also enjoy a variety of live acts, with plenty of live music.

Head over to Verona where they have the Tocatì festival. Tocatì translates from local dialect into English as ‘it’s your turn’ which might give you an idea of the kind of fun you can have there. This is a real family event, with lots of competitive fun for people of all ages.

Festival goers can enjoy traditional street games from all over the world – things like parkour, ultimate frisbee, awalé, carrom, and backgammon to name a few. The festival has a different guest country each year, and even includes traditional ancient games such as marbles. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.

Over in Tuscany we have Palio di San Rocco. This festival usually takes place in the first week of September, in Figline Valdarno. It is considered to be one of the very first races organised in this region. The festival lasts for five days and you can enjoy horse races, archery and even jousting competitions.

One thing is certain though, that no matter which festival you attend, you can always expect lots of traditional delicious Italian food on offer. If you’re eating while you’re out and about then you want something that you can easily eat with your hands – something like a nice big slice of focaccia.

Focaccia is a thick Italian flatbread made using lots of olive oil. It has a distinctive dimpled top and comes in a variety of flavours. It’s most commonly found in the north-west of Italy, around Liguria, a region famous for its olive oil production, but it is enjoyed all over the country.

Here’s how you can make your own at home – no plane ticket required.



9 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

3 sprigs rosemary

300g strong white bread flour

7g sachet yeast

Sea salt flakes



1. Take a bowl and add 6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil along with the leaves picked from the sprigs of rosemary. Set to one side while you make the bread mixture.

2. Add the flour, yeast, and the remaining three tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl. Add one tsp sea salt flakes. Mix, gradually adding 175 ml water as you do, until a sticky dough has formed.

3. Lightly oil your work surface before kneading the dough. It will seem quite sticky at first but will eventually become more elastic-like and smooth. This should take around 6-8 minutes. Once the right consistency has formed place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave your dough to prove until it has doubled in size, which should take about an hour.

4. Oil a heavy baking tray. Push your dough down into the bowl and knead a little before tipping it out on to the tray. Form a rectangle shape with your dough that is roughly 20cm x 30cm. Leave for 30 minutes to rise a little.

5. Preheat the oven to 220 C (200 C for a fan assisted ovens)/gas mark 7. Using a finger, make dimples in the top of the dough. Drizzle with the rosemary-infused olive oil you prepared earlier and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

6. Bake your focaccia in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, or until it has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and, if allowing to cool, cover loosely with foil (the steam will keep the focaccia soft), or enjoy warm.