For a long time, autumn in Italy was the perfect shoulder season. Not too hot but still warm during the day, not crowd-free but certainly fewer tourists, and still plenty of things to see and do. Nowadays, I’d contend that most of autumn has been sucked into Italy’s high season. Fall is still a great time to visit, but it’s a little more complicated than it once was.
Here’s what you’ll need to know about going to Italy in the autumn.
I’m defining fall as the months of September, October, and November in Italy, but that doesn’t mean that temperatures cool and leaves turn on September 1. September is often as warm as August, though the evenings tend to be (mercifully) cooler. By October, it’s really starting to feel like autumn, and November is Italy’s rainiest month. Like spring, fall is a transitional season, which means you’ve got to be prepared for some weather variations.
Autumn temperatures will differ depending on what month you’re visiting and where in the country you’ll be (the northern parts are nearly always much cooler than the southern parts), so be sure to check regional temperature averages (these are linked below in the individual articles on each month) but also an actual current forecast before you start packing. Don’t be surprised if you’re throwing both sunglasses and an umbrella in your bag.
The fall months include harvest festivals of all kinds throughout Italy. These are sometimes small celebrations, not even regional but just in one town or city, and include EuroChocolate in Perugia, the White Truffle Festival in Alba, CioccolaTÒ in Turin, and a Prosciutto Festival near Parma. Your best bet is to inquire at the local tourist information office when you get wherever you’re staying to find out if there are any food or wine festivals going on nearby.
Other holidays and events in the autumn include All Saints Day, the Regata Storica in Venice, Juliet’s Birthday in Verona, and the International Film Festival in Venice. These don’t specifically drive up prices on things like hotels or airfare the way holidays like Carnevale or Christmas do, but since September and early October are still sort of in Italy’s high season prices may be higher than you’d expect for fall anyway. Crowds don’t really thin out until November, either, so plan accordingly.
Shoulder seasons are the pick of the litter in terms of offering decent weather without costing a fortune, but I’d argue that at least half of autumn is still in the high season. For anyone looking for shoulder season deals in the fall, I’d start looking in mid-October or (if you don’t mind rain) November. You’ll find the crowds getting smaller by late October, and prices can drop quite a bit, too.
If you’ve got your heart set on September, then treat it the way you would any high season month – plan on thicker crowds and higher prices, and I’d advise booking ahead on things like hotel rooms and museum tickets with reserved entry times.
One of the drawbacks to visiting Italy in the fall – especially if you’re pushing your trip into late October or November – is that the weather can change your plans for you. You may be in the Cinque Terre in October and have glorious weather, perfect for hiking the trails. Or, you might wake up to stormy skies and go in search of a warm fire and a glass of wine instead. In a shoulder season, it pays to be able to alter your itinerary if needed.
That possibility for inclement weather can also impact your trip in other ways, too. For instance, the boats that connect the towns of the Amalfi Coast to the island of Capri stop running in mid-to-late October. You can still visit the island, but you’d need to go to Sorrento or Naples first to take a larger boat. So, again, it’s best if you can go with the flow, no matter what the weather brings.