Every season in Italy has its charms, but when’s the best time to visit Italy for the perfect mix of good value, weather and elbow room (that’s “spazio di manovra,” in Italian)?
Get ready to trade in your pumpkin spice latte for some caffe amaretto and set your sights on an autumn getaway to explore Rome, Venice, the Amalfi Coast and beyond.
Italians call their home “bel paese” – the beautiful country – and it’s especially true when the heat of summer gives way to the sunny days and cooler nights of fall.
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The Best Months to Visit Italy
“Air conditioning is not as much of a thing in Italy as it is in the U.S., so that can be an issue for some when it’s very hot. May and October are a good time frame to visit if you mind the heat,” said AAA travel advisor Jennifer Della Pena.
There is a caveat, however. “If you are going to Southern Italy and Sicily, that climate is very different than if you’re doing the Dolomites on the border of Switzerland,” Della Pena added. The former is generally warmer than the latter.
In October, for example, daytime temperatures in Naples, Palermo and Rome average pleasant, 72-degree highs, while the mercury dips to an average of 58 degrees in Lake Como, and even chillier in the Italian Alps.
The Best Time to Visit Italy to Avoid Crowds
“If you really want less crowds then you have to go off-season like March and November or full-on winter months,” Della Pena said. “The fall weather is at its best, and it’s less crowded than the peak summer months. Off-season also generally will save you some money, which is something else to consider.”
In southern Italy, October can still be pleasant enough to hit the beaches of the Italian Riviera, particularly earlier in the month. And both October and November are great months of the year to tour Rome, Pompeii and Italy’s other historic cities without melting into a puddle of molten lava.
Top Fall Destinations in Italy
Now that you know the best time to visit Italy, here’s where you’ll want to go while you’re there.
We’re not saying you’ll have popular Roman attractions like the Trevi Fountain, the Forum and the Colosseum all to yourself if you visit Rome in the fall, but once the summer crowds thin out, the experience can be more like a vacation and less like gladiatorial combat.
Borghese Park is a great place to enjoy fall colors, and more moderate temperatures make this time of year perfect for exploring ancient Rome’s version of a superhighway, the Appian Way, via bicycle.
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The Amalfi Coast
The ruggedly beautiful southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula isn’t just a magnet for visiting tourists – Italians love it, too. By October, however, popular destinations like the towns of Positano, Salerno, Amalfi and Ravello are less crowded as summer visitors go home and Italians go back to work, making fall truly the best time to visit the Amalfi Coast.
Most attractions, hotels and restaurants remain open, and less traffic on the fabled Amalfi Drive means more time to explore other nearby sights like Pompeii, the island of Capri and Naples, famous not only for more than 4,000 years of history but also as the birthplace of pizza.
The Lakes Region
Italians have been fleeing the summer heat for the cooler lakes region in the north since before an emperor sat in Rome, but destinations like Lake Como, with its famous villas, and Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore remain attractive options through the month of October, when roads and restaurants are less crowded, resort room rates are less stratospheric and amenities, like ferries, continue to operate, albeit on a reduced schedule.
Visiting in November is a bit trickier. Although fewer attractions are open when the weather turns wintery, snowfall in the lake valleys brings its own unique beauty and charm.
The annual Alba Truffle Fair is a savory highlight of fall in Italy’s Piedmont region, which sits at the base of the Alps, along the border with France and Switzerland. But truffles aren’t the only fall food celebrated here. Piedmont is famous for a bevy of other culinary delights, including walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts, autumn vegetables dipped in “bagna cauda” – a hot sauce made with anchovies, olive oil and garlic – and sampling chocolate in the region where Nutella was born.
The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is ringed with beaches that can be enjoyed for swimming and sunbathing well into October. Visiting the largely shadeless Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is far more pleasant in the fall than in the baking Sicilian summer. If temperatures do get a little chilly during your stay, you can always warm up with a hike to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.
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Vibrant and cosmopolitan, Milan’s famous shopping, events, museums and nightlife hum along year-round. Opera season begins in November, with performances at the legendary La Scala opera house; it’s also the month when the city hosts its annual Jazz Festival. And, of course, attractions like the Duomo cathedral, shopping in the glass-roofed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and museums celebrating Milan’s most famous inhabitant, Leonardo da Vinci, are open throughout the fall months.
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What parts of Italy do you dream of visiting? Tell us in the comments.