Rain tempers Italy’s heat wave as Franciacorta harvest is completed

best hotel lake garda italyAbove: a view from the Brescia (Lombardy) side of Lake Garda yesterday. Click for a panoramic view.

When I arrived in Italy on Saturday, I expected the weather to be hot.

From August 5 until August 14 (the day I departed from the U.S.), the highs in Franciacorta (Lombardy, northern Italy) were in the mid-90s; the lows in the mid-80s.

But on August 15 — Ferragosto, a national holiday in Italy (Italian speakers, see this tragically comic video post by Diego Abantantuono that trended on Saturday) — temperatures began to drop and it began to rain.

Yesterday (Sunday), nearly .5 inches of rain fell in Erbusco (in the heart of Franciacorta) and the actual high was 76°. It’s currently (as of 9:40 a.m.) 66° in Erbusco and nearly an inch of rain is forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday.

When I went jogging in Franciacorta early yesterday morning, there were just a handful of pickers harvesting. Nearly everyone in Franciacorta had finished picking by Friday of last week.

Last night, when I sat down to a dinner of homemade pizza and Franciacorta on the banks of Lake Garda, one of the dinner guests asked rhetorically, didn’t they use to harvest in September in Franciacorta? I’ll let the reader draw her/his own conclusion.

During the summer’s prolonged heatwave, some growers were forced to resort to emergency irrigation in Franciacorta and the markedly early harvest is owed to an extremely warm summer in Italy.

I’ve read reports of emergency irrigation in Tuscany and Proseccoland as well.

You can see stormclouds in the photo from Lake Garda above. Shortly after I took a swim, it began to rain there. And rain is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday in Franciacorta.

Yesterday in Siena, it rained enough that the Palio dell’Assunta was canceled (it’s been rescheduled for today) and rain is forecast in Montalcino this week.

It’s not clear how this harvest is going to turn out. But there will be a mixed bag of results across Italy.

I’m spending this week in Franciacorta tasting with and talking to growers. And next week, I’ll be in Montalcino, Chianti Classico, and later in Proseccoland where I’ll be checking in with winemakers there as well.

Stay tuned. And in the meantime…

italian astronautAbove: Billy the Astronaut was a stowaway in my computer bag.

A lot of people have been asking me and commenting about the little astronaut that keeps appearing on my Instagram.

His name is “Billy the Astronaut” and he comes from NASA in Houston. We still have no idea why Georgia P called him “Billy” and I’m not sure how he found his way into my computer bag before I left the house on Friday.

But I am missing my girls terribly and I’m glad to have some company and a souvenir of the place where I long to be.

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