It’s no secret that I’m in love with Italy. Come August, I will have visited a total of 21 separate times. Excessive, I know, but one should not deprive themselves of the things they love. 😉 I’m often asked about “the best” place to visit, and my response is always the same: What time of year are you going? Do you like cities or the country? Do you prefer beaches or lakes? Are you a wine connoisseur or more of a foodie? There’s no way I could choose one location to recommend to everyone; Italy is incredibly diverse, and certain spots are best during particular seasons. In my opinion, they are as follows for fall:
The famous Amalfi Coast is, without a doubt, all it’s cracked up to be. However, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone travel there in the summertime. Personally, I’m not a fan of “tourist traps,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find Positano to be from June thru August; it’s insanely expensive, everyone’s speaking English, and food is cooked to foreigners’ tastes (in other words, it stinks). You’re elbow-to-elbow in the streets and traffic is horrific. Full disclosure: I once hit a person on via Cristoforo Colombo with my car. We were crawling and I just bumped him with a side view mirror, but still!
September on the coast is incredible. The weather’s still amazing, prices are more reasonable, and towns are way less crowded. If you’re looking to stay in Positano, Albergo California is hands down the best I’ve come across thus far. Its views and location are unmatched; it’s a short walk down to the beach, shops, and restaurants, with no mountainous hill to scale on your way back up with a belly full of pasta and gelato.
The well-known isle of Capri is a short boat ride away, but I honestly prefer to do something different: right next door in Praiano, you can rent a boat for way cheaper and even be your own captain! As a plus, you’ll spend time on a more secluded beach and jump from tiny cliffs into the Tyhrrenian Sea. Check out La Sabilla for rentals and Il Pirata for the inevitable appetite you’ll build up swimming through grottos.
- How to arrive: The best way, if you can stomach it, is by car. The airport in Naples (NAP) is super close, and the ride is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Windy, narrow roads scale the cliffs overlooking the sea and even on the cloudiest day will leave you breathless. There are no quick, convenient public transportation routes for most of the hot-spots, and transit in and around Naples is unfortunately shady anyway. 😦 *I can say that because I’m Napolitana*
One of the reasons I love autumn so much is that I’m obsessed with its colors. Two of the best places I’ve been for fall foliage are those I’m writing about here: the vineyards in Piedmont and forests in Veneto. Both regions are breathtaking at any time of year, but September and October are particularly stunning in my opinion. Though Piedmont is much further north than its well-known Tuscan counterpart, it is also known for its wine and vineyards. La Morra is one of my personal favorite towns to day-trip to; not only is it beautiful, it’s a mere 20 minutes from the annual October Truffle Festival in Alba.
Wine and truffles aside, Piedmont is also known for its hot chocolate, though it’s likely not what you’re imagining; it’s basically the exact opposite of our powder/water mix. Think melted, thick, mind-blowing hot fudge. :-O
- How to arrive: I promise I’m not totally biased, but renting a car is often the way to go. Nothing beats driving through Italy, especially amongst vineyards and tiny villages! You can arrive in Torino (TRN), which is also a great city to explore, or Milan (MXP) if you’re strapped for cash – Torino usually requires layovers and is at least a few hundred dollars more expensive than further-away MXP.
Veneto: Dolomites & Lakes
Place #2 I’m most in love with for fall foliage as mentioned above: i Dolomiti. Words cannot express how absolutely breathtaking the Dolomite section of the Alps can be in autumn. The mountains themselves are tinted pink, and the forests and lakes that surround them are spectacular. To get the best views, I recommend either hiking or taking long drives. One of my favorite routes is Passo Giau, which is most easily accessible by, you guessed it, car. Many cyclists often take this route as well, and they’re obviously out of their f;ing minds – it’s insanely steep! :-O There’s a restaurant at the top of the mountain that’s pricey but a nice place to stop. The drive itself is stunning and there are plenty of photo-ops along the way, so take your time if you can.
Of the Venetian lakes, Sorapiss is of the most spectacular: surrounded by now-colorful fall trees, its sky blue tint is striking. The journey there is brutal, though, as discussed in previous posts. The only way to arrive is by trekking and while it’s totally worth it, the experience was so frightening that I would never attempt it again. Sorapiss is not for the faint of heart or out of shape! :-O
Though just outside the Veneto region and into Trentino, Lago di Braies is too incredible to not be included, especially in the fall. This one’s easy and can be reached by car or bus, so it’s safe to leave your trekking stick at home (Grazie a Dio). Unlike sky blue Sorapiss, Braies is the most incredible shade of green. Honestly, it’s indescribable, and the photos don’t even do it justice. It’s an easy walk around the perimeter; I’ve seen plenty of people with dogs and strollers navigate it with no problem. Bring your jacket, though; as this lake is further north and nestled in the mountains, it’s likely much chillier than where you’ve arrived from!
- How to arrive: As you probably got by now, Milan is the cheapest, most convenient airport to fly into when visiting Northern Italy. Its convenience is due to the fact that there are tons of direct flights, but MXP is not necessarily super close to where you want to end up, especially if traveling to Veneto. Venice (VCE), Treviso (TSF), and Trieste (TRS) are much nearer, but VCE is the only airport with direct flights and all three are consistently way more expensive than Milan. If you’d rather not drive so far from MXP, you can hop on a fast train to Venice and jump in a Fiat500 there. B-)