A Walk in Nizza

Exploring history, food, and culture between the Belbo river and the vineyard hills of Monferrato

Italy in the Fall: the Other Tourist Season

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With its huge offer of art, history, culture and epic sights, Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But while all-year-around tourism in Italy is now a fact, the Autumn season does not enjoy the popularity it should.

So, considering that Autumn is close at hand and I’ll be doing most of my next rambling, exploration, photo-shooting and writing in the Fall, here’s a little introduction to what makes this season so special.

Piemonte-Langhe&Monferrato in Autumn

This of course is a list of my top five reasons to enjoy Italy (and the Monferrato area in particular) in this time of the year. And I’d love to hear your reasons, and your thoughts, in the comments.

Anyway, here we go…

The Countryside Looks Beautiful

Yes, I know, this one is easy. September brings brown and golden hues to the landscape, and makes for great photography, and sightseeing. The light is also softer, and you still get about ten hours of it.
Signing up for a tour of the vineyards might be a good idea – but just a simple hike in the hills can reveal some incredible sights.

Less Heat, Less Crowd

Yes, you run the risk of the occasional shower, and it might get windy on some days, but you will not get the 37+° C temperatures of certain days in late July and early August that, combined with a high level of humidity make the Belbo Valley and much of Monferrato a test for some. Also, considering that schools are starting again and workplaces re-opened after the August lock-down, the density of tourists will be much lower. Which means shorter queues in museums, more accommodations available, less crowded trains and restaurants.

No August Lock-down

In August Italy grinds to an almost complete stop, as factories and offices close and most of the population is vacationing.
While the scene of lost and lonely tourists wandering through towns in which museums, bars and restaurants are closed is no longer dramatic as it was in th e’80s and ’90s, if you favor out-of-the-way, non-mainstream locales, you might still experience the sensation of being a castaway, or a visitor to a ghost town.
Come September, problem solved.

The Grape Harvest Season

Here in Monferrato (but also in Tuscany, Latium etc.), the grape harvest season causes a lot of stuff to happen.
There’s work to be done in the vineyards, and adventure travelers might try and find a place to stay and get paid to help with the harvest. And there’s a lot of local festivals going on because, after a long day spent in the vineyards, people like to have fun. Local festivals provide an excellent opportunity to try some excellent traditional food on the cheap, and listen to (good or otherwise) music.
Safety note: drivers, hikers and cyclists should keep an extra eye out, because there’s lot of tractors, pulling big carts loaded in grapes, running up and down country roads.

The Seasonal Food

While it’s true that many summer festivals will offer you a taste of traditional Monferrato cooking, it is also true that the best local dishes are part of the cold season tradition, and are best enjoyed around a table when outside the air is fresh and the rain falls. Braised rabbits and game, polenta, bagna caòda, vin brulé, chickpeas soup, mushrooms and truffles and chestnuts… all these are dishes that can be enjoyed at their best in the fall.

And this is my five-point list – but what about you out there?
Have you been to Italy in the Fall? What are in your experience the best things of Autumn in Italy?
The comments are open.

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12 Comments

  1. Oh, love the idea of visiting during grape harvest. Nice narrative about the area. Would love to visit this part of Italy.

    • It is a really beautiful, much under-appreciated area – too long considered only as the place where they make wine, not a place to visit, have fun and relax.
      I plan on doing a few photo-posts about grape harvest season – stay tuned 🙂

  2. Italy sounds wonderful in Autumn! I’m hoping to visit later in the year when I start travelling again – looking forward to see the beautiful autumn colours 😀

    Emma

    • Hopefully we are looking forward to a dry, fresh fall… this year might be the right one to visit the Italian countryside.

  3. I would love to experience Italy in the fall. We tend to vacation in the summer, just like most of the world because we follow the school calendar, but I know that won’t always be the case, and I’m really looking forward to exploring places like this.

    • September is, to me, just perfect.
      Later on, with the rains and the cold wind, it’s another thing altogether – but September is the lon gtail of the summer, and you get the best of both seasons.

  4. I love the fall season in Italy, especially Northern Italy. So much less crowded and the fall colors are amazing!

  5. I’ve never been to Italy, but it’s on my list! I don’t like crowds and I adore seasonal food, so it sounds like fall would be the best time for me to visit.

  6. Sounds like a great place and I love the idea of visiting in August so you can have the whole place to yourself!

  7. Pingback: Italy in the Fall: practical advice - A Walk in Nizza

  8. Great points! I always think of Europe in the summer, but then get turned off by the crowds. The colours look wonderful, and you’re right, food tastes great no matter the season!

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