As school starts, days become noticeably shorter and mid-September quickly approaches, it can be easy to mourn the end of summer. But the fall season brings its own charm and beauty with it, particularly in Italy. Though Italy sees its greatest number of visitors during the summer months, our team at Mr. & Mrs. Italy has seen first hand just how lovely a fall trip can be for travelers of all interests. Whether you’re dreaming of the white sand beaches of Puglia and Sicily or the snow capped peaks of the north, fall is an incredible time to explore Italy. Here are some of our favorite reasons fall is a great time to go to Italy.
An October morning in Tuscany's Val d'Orcia.
1. Harvest Time
Vineyards ready for harvest at Il Borro in Tuscany.
Across the world, fall is a time to celebrate the harvest and bounty of local produce, and Italy is no exception. From the famed white truffles of Alba, to the earthy porcinis of Umbria, or the apricot scented chanterelles of the Alto Adige, prized wild mushrooms are abundant throughout the fall. These delicacies are freshly picked, highly prized and pack a delicious flavor punch, elevating the simplest pasta dish to a decadent culinary experience. Apples are another fantastically tasty and perfectly autumnal staple, which happen to pair well with chestnuts, a delicious token of fall in Italy. Freshly roasted castagne are sold at most outdoor markets, and are best eaten on the spot, while warm and fragrant. Of course, two of Italy’s most iconic and beloved crops are also harvested and pressed during this time; grapes and olives. The exact time of harvest can vary depending on weather, but visit Italy from the end of September through November and you have a very good chance of experiencing the legacy of Italy’s harvest that dates back to Etruscan times.
With the cornucopia of harvest comes celebration, and as a food loving culture, Italy’s harvest festivals are a must. Sagre are country fair-like festivals where local farmers and producers exhibit their products, with ample opportunity for sampling, competition and demonstrations. From high end cheeses and wines to regionally specific dishes that only be found locally, these festivals are a great way to get to know the local culture of an area. The most famous of these is the International White Truffle Fair in Alba, an event that draws the some of the world’s most prestigious foodies. But all across the country, lesser known sagre exist, all providing an incredibly immersive, authentic and delicious opportunity to eat, drink and be merry. In addition to these harvest festivals, cultural traditions such as Il Paliocan be found across much of the country.
Il Palio festival, Siena.
3. Great Weather
Fall at Conti di San Bonifacio in Tuscany.
Particularly in the central and southern areas of Italy, fall weather is some of the best. Gone is the scorching sun and oppressive heat of summer, and in its place come perfectly warm days and lovely cool nights. Contrary to what one might imagine, the fall is a perfect time for a beach getaway; the waters of the Adriatic and Mediterranean are at their most balmy, and the ample sunshine and pleasant temperatures make for ideal beach weather. The weather in the south stays the warmest the longest, and the white sand beaches of Puglia and Sicily are just as enchanting in October as they are earlier in the season. Italy’s cities also benefit from the more mild temperatures of fall, and a day of walking in Rome, Florence or Venice is far more appealing when the highs for the day are in the mid 70s, rather than the mid 90s. As for the Italy's northern region, those who visit during the fall can be lucky enough to catch the first snow in the mountains.
While popular destinations can still be busy through September, the onset of fall means the departure of the hordes of tourists who pack the streets Italy’s most celebrated sites during the summer months. Compared to the high season, fall is a fantastic time to visit places like the Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre, that are jammed with tourists earlier in the year. Across the entire country, as fall progresses, prices in general begin to drop for accommodations of all kinds.
Call us basic, but we're suckers for fall foliage. Tuscany and Umbria in particular yield fantastic fall landscapes, from the greens and yellows of rollings hills and fields to the oranges of autumnal forests. An excellent time to hike, bike, or horseback ride through Italy’s countryside, taking advantage of more mild weather and the changing landscape.
Of course for many families with school-aged kids, summer is the only feasible time to plan to travel to Italy, but for those of us with more flexible vacation schedules, fall is the perfect time to enjoy a trip. Whether you want to experience Italy's hot spots when they're slightly less, well, hot, or whether you're looking to enjoy the change of seasons in the countryside; perhaps you plan your trip around, seeing Il Palio or just happen to stumble upon a local sagra, autumn all across Italy is a treat for travelers of all types and interests. And seriously, who doesn't love the romance of fall, with cool nights, warm days, beautiful colors, and harvest celebrations galore. Just maybe don't expect to find any pumpkin spice lattes at the local cafe.