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.
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.