Autumn in Italy is a time for gorgeous scenery, divine food and wine, and a great atmosphere. Here are nine of our suggestions for an autumn break to Italy.
The Lakes Region
There are over 1,500 lakes in Italy and any of them would be ideal for an autumn break. In Italy, the lakes region is in the north, with names many will recognise: Garda, Como and Lugano. But there are other stunning lakes with quaint towns and towering mountains reflecting in the still waters – think lakes Maggiore, Orta and Varese.
Popular all year, in the autumn – when the majority of tourists have gone – the tranquility of these spots is hard to beat. Ride out to the Borrommee Islands of Lake Maggiore from the Victorian resort town of Stresa, take in the view of Lake Orta from Sacro Monte di San Francesco, or visit the villas of Lake Como with their elegant gardens.
Whichever you choose, an aperitivo lakeside as the setting sun reflects on the waters is our idea of idyllic.
In the Langhe area of Piedmont, only an hour from Turin, is a corner of Italy rich in wines, truffles and cheeses – everything an autumnal menu requires. The name Langhe is the plural form of langa, a local word for a long, low-lying hill.
There is a plethora of wineries where you can learn about the production and flavour of the wines. Many have wine tastings as part of the tour, when you can sample rich flavours such as the famous Barbaresco and Barolo wines. There’s the sparkling moscato variety.
The truffle fairs in Alba and surrounding areas are world-renowned, and the white truffle is a regional speciality. The Slow Food movement was born here, and it is easy to understand why with such delightful, traditional food. And if you feel the need for exercise after all the sampling, the landscape is perfect for hiking.
Val d’Orcia, Tuscany
Anther hilly landscape is that of Tuscany. The Val d’Orcia comes into its own in the autumn as the vines turn from russet to gold, contrasting with the ever green of the symbolic cypress trees. Just south of Siena, the whole region is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is easy to see why it has inspired generations of poets and painters.
Shake off the chill of an autumnal morning with a dip in the therapeutic hot springs of Bagno Vignoni. There are no cities in this part of Tuscany, just beautiful countryside, warming food and delicious wines. The prefect place to unwind.
Sardinia is famed for its sandy beaches, but head inland from September to December and you’ll be treated to a celebration of arts, crafts, food and wine.
Barbagia, in Sardinia’s mountainous interior, is home to an annual festival of the region’s traditions. Known as Autonno in Barbagia, the festival runs from 1st September to the middle of December and visits over 30 villages. Workshops are opened to the public as centuries-old crafts are shared with visitors. Evenings are entertainment central with theatrical performances and concerts.
Veneto is more than Venice, though the ethereal city when swathed in sea mist is one of the most evocative autumn in Italy experiences you’ll find. However, it is to Padua that we would recommend you head.
A university town that boasts many firsts – woman to graduate with a university degree and a botanical garden among them – the buzz of university life creates an authentic feel to the city. Visit the UNESCO Heritage site of the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, walk the elliptical piazza and for the ghoulish among you, a visit to the world’s oldest anatomical theatre or to see the preserved tongue of Saint Anthony of Padua are also possible.
Matera is buzzing with cultural events in the autumn – enjoy food festivals, theatrical performances, and musical shows across the area. A city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy, it includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside.
Some of the sassi are now comfortable hotels, others museums. Wind your way through the historic centre, dipping into churches and admiring the views of the natural landscapes across the jumble of houses below. It’s still warm in October, so a last-minute getaway may be just the ticket.
Head south to Puglia and the heel of Italy’s boot. Autumn in Puglia is comfortable after the soaring heat of the summer and that means exploring the city of Lecce in comfort. Often nicknamed the Florence of the South owing to its large amount of beautiful historical buildings, Lecce is also close to the coastal destinations of Gallipoli and Otranto, the latter home to the magnificent Aragonese Castle.
Marvel at the Baroque façade of Basilica di Santa Croce. Roam around the Roman Amphitheatre in the southern part of the Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Enjoy an aperitivo in one of the squares in front of a beautiful church and simply soak up the atmosphere.
Foodies will be in heaven when they set foot in Norcia. Also known for the truffle culture, its amazing hams, cheeses and saffron all contribute to the superb dishes for which the area is famed.
Norcia is the birthplace of St. Benedict and one of the most attractive towns in Italy; small in size, it is perfect for a weekend break of indulgence. Umbria is also great for those who love the great outdoors. Hiking, cycling, and rafting in the countryside, as nature changes the scenery’s colour palette will leave you with a sense of wellness.
Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
On the border with the region of Abruzzo, Ascoli Piceno is the perfect place to experience the atmosphere of both Le Marche and its neighbour. Built of Travertine stone, the city has a glow, which reflects onto the stones of the Piazza del Popolo. Whilst in this elegant square, be sure to dip into Caffe Meletti for an espresso and pastry. Named as one of the 150 historic cafes of Italy, it is also home to Anisetta Meletti, which you’re almost certain to have at the end of a meal in Ascoli.
Autumn is also the time for porchetta, a succulent pork dish often served in bread from street vendors. Very popular in Abruzzo, its popularity has seeped into Le Marche. Porchetta abruzzese is generally slow roasted with rosemary, garlic, and pepper; accompanied by a glass of Rosso Piceno red wine it’s simply autumn comfort.