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Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express.
Who says Italians have all the fun in the summer season? Fall in Italy has its own charms, from the harvest in Tuscany to more cosmopolitan pleasures in cities like Rome and Milan. In fact, we would argue that autumn is the best time of year to visit Italy. Mild temperatures and sunny days are a welcome respite from the sweltering heat of summer, museums tend to debut their best exhibitions, and the harvest bounty means tables are full of delicious things to eat. Whether you want to sip a nice Barolo in the rolling hills of Piedmont or sunbathe at the best beach clubs in Capri without the crowds, there’s something for every type of traveler. Ahead, six Italian destinations that are perfect for a fall trip.
Following the summer holidays, when Romans desert the city en masse, fall is a welcome break from the heat. The mild but pleasant weather usually lasts well into November or even December, but October in particular is so lovely that locals refer to it as l’ottobrata romana. “While most cities have one summer, it is as if Rome has two. The fall season is such an ideal time to plan a Roman Holiday because of the perfect climate—warm summer-like days accompanied by cool and crisp evenings,” says Annie Ojile, founder of luxury tour companies Personalized Italy and Scooteroma.
Plus, the city is getting not one but two new art centers: Palazzo Bonaparte will open on October 6 with an exhibition of Impressionist paintings and the newly renovated Musja (Museo Jacorossi) will debut on October 8 with site-specific installations and works by contemporary artists. Check into the luxe new Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville, which boasts the city’s hottest new rooftop bar or keep it classic at sister property Hotel de Russie, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property.
Milan is the perfect place to plan a city break for cocktails and culture. Fashion Week may be over, but the city’s fashionistas will be out and about strutting their stuff in the latest trends. You can combine people-watching and imbibing at Camparino in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II right by the Duomo. The historic café was one of the shopping center’s original tenants and has been a magnet for the society set since it opened over 150 years ago.
Culture vultures should make a beeline for the Fondazione Prada, where Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf’s exhibition “Spritzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures” is on view until January 2020. Book a room at the just-opened Galleria Vik Milano or at Baglioni Hotel Carlton, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, which has an entrance right on famed shopping street Via della Spiga.
In Tuscany, fall means harvest season. All over the countryside, vineyards are buzzing with activity as grapes are being harvested and prepared to become this year’s vintage. This is a great time of year to go if you want to see the action, but keep in mind that some wineries—especially the smaller ones—might have reduced visitation hours as their winemakers are busy processing the grapes.
You could stay in Florence at American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Hotel Savoy, a Rocco Forte Hotel right on the bustling Piazza della Repubblica, or at the intimate J.K. Place Firenze, a member of Leading Hotels of the World that feels more like a house than a hotel, and take day trips out to Chianti or Bolgheri for wine tastings in the vineyards.
Though it’s less famous than Tuscany, Piedmont produces some of Italy’s finest wines, including Barolo and Barbaresco. The capital of Turin also boasts a rich history as the main production center for vermouth and the town of Alba was recognized by UNESCO as a Creative Capital for gastronomy. Consider planning a trip around the annual White Truffle Fair in Alba, which takes place from October 5th through November 24th and visit wineries like Gaja in Barbaresco.
Make the Relais San Maurizio your home base—the Relais & Châteaux member occupies a former monastery on a hill with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant that sources fresh vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden.
The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Ischia
“In the fall season everything is quieter on the Amalfi Coast—life with its colors and fragrances seems to finally flow at its natural speed,” says Marcello Uzzi, archeology expert and guide for Personalized Italy. “The traffic, the endless lines of buses with their loads of tourists, the human pressure you feel walking through the narrow alleyways of Positano or Amalfi are all gone.” In September and October, before the hotels close for the season, you can also get better rates and score hard-to-get reservations more easily.
You could split a trip between the mainland—with the legendary Le Sirenuse in Positano as your base, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property—and Capri or Ischia, staying at the Capri Tiberio Palace or the Albergo della Regina Isabella, which has a suite dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor, who stayed there.
The Italian Alps
As the air turns cool and crisp, the alpine adventures are just beginning. Though it’s known for skiing, there’s plenty to do in this region before the first snowfall. You could, for example, visit the small town of Bormio, where the Alpine amaro Braulio is made using local herbs and botanicals. Check into QC Terme’s Hotel Bagni Vecchi and enjoy a wellness-focused weekend as you go hiking in the mountains and take in breathtaking views of the valleys below as you soak in thermal baths that date back to the Roman Empire.