COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND
A taste of Italy
One reason the Eldorado Hotel in Reno is a top destination over Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 6-7) is its annual Great Italian Festival, a celebration of Italian culture and traditions.
Downtown Reno will be transformed into a Little Italy, with a grape stomp, tomato sauce-cooking competition, Italian-themed farmers market, bocce, children's gelato-eating contest, a buffet of Italian cuisine and nonstop live entertainment.
The star of this year's extravaganza will be the Zoppé Family Circus, one of Europe's legendary entertainment acts for 160 years. The one-ring circus will play Thursday through next Sunday in a 500-seat tent, featuring acrobats, equestrians, clowns and "plenty of audience participation." For details: www.eldoradoreno.com, (775) 786-5700.
Wine, Walk & Shop
Long lists of special events throughout Northern California have been set in motion for the fall season. Here's one that involves shopping, eating and drinking, along with a scenic drive.
The high-altitude and historic town of Truckee will host its ninth annual Downtown Wine, Walk & Shop event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, with expectations of 1,000-plus visitors.
The event will feature samplings from a dozen restaurants and tastes from 40 wineries. Of course, visitors are encouraged to drop by the many art galleries and storefronts that make Truckee a unique shopping destination.
Advance tickets are $35 at www.truckeewinewalk.com; day-of tickets are $40 at the registration kiosk. Attendees will receive a commemorative wine glass, a program and map to participating venues, and five tickets for food samplings at locations in downtown Truckee. Details on lodging specials are on the website.
For more information: (530) 550-2252.
See the sandhill cranes
Given the early arrival of sandhill cranes to their seasonal wetland habitants in the Central Valley, now is the time to make plans to see the magnificent birds.
Public viewing is available at the Department of Fish and Game's Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (www.dfg.ca.gov/ lands/er/region3/woodbridge. html) and at the Cosumnes River Preserve near Lodi (www.cosumnes.org).
For outings that are more organized, the DFG will offer tours the first three weekends of each month from October through February. Registration is at www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/cranetour. A donation of $10 per adult is suggested. Flying off of that, the 16th annual Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival is scheduled for Nov. 2-4. For information on that event, visit www.cranefestival.com.
Art & Film Festival
There are plenty of reasons to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea fine dining, unique stores, great window-shopping and the dog-friendly scene along Carmel Beach.
Add to those the fourth annual Carmel Art & Film Festival, Oct. 10-14, at which a certain former Carmel mayor will hand over the Clint Eastwood Filmmakers Award.
Four film categories will be showcased and judged, including narrative feature, documentary, short and student independent films. Plus, film buffs can pick and choose from a long list of workshops and lectures.
The usually sedate town will be hopping with live music, a free Saturday-night movie on Carmel Beach, and the Cannes-like Filmmakers Beach Bash, with bonfires and Monterey County wines. An all-day film pass costs $50, with other passes priced higher. For details and to buy tickets: www.carmelartandfilm.com.
If you somehow were left off the invite list to the numerous VIP cocktail parties during the festival, consider the popular Terry's Lounge at the Doris Day-owned Cypress Inn (Lincoln and Seventh streets, 831-624-3871; www.cypress-inn.com). The inn is the festival's host hotel.