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7 beautiful Italian destinations for a fall vacation

Sept. 11, 2021
8 min read
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There's really never a bad time to visit Italy. In fact, the country has special highlights year-round, like the summer beach scene, mild winters and blossoming springs.

But autumn is one of the best times to explore this Mediterranean country as you'll encounter fewer tourists while admiring the foliage change and you can enjoy the local wine and food harvest festivals. Temperatures begin to cool down, and there's a light breeze in the air -- perfect weather for tourism.

Italy in autumn. (Photo by Leonid Andronov/ Getty)
Italy in autumn. (Photo by Leonid Andronov/Getty)

Best of all, travelers no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in Italy, as long as they can show proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result.

Here are some of the best destinations you should consider checking out for an Italian escape this autumn.

Rome

Rome in autumn. (Photo by Alexander Spatari/ Getty)
Rome in autumn. (Photo by Alexander Spatari/ Getty)

Italy's capital may seem like an obvious autumn choice, but since the COVID-19 outbreak hit, cities have suddenly become unfashionable. But that's precisely why it's the perfect time to head to Rome. Many tourists and visitors have skipped over this destination in lieu of smaller villages, nature getaways or beachy, more outdoorsy vacations.

This may be your chance to see the Colosseum empty, Piazza Navona filled with locals (instead of tourists) and admire the leaves changing from green to red to orange and yellow at the Villa Borghese Park. And of course, queues for sights like Vatican City will be much more manageable. Plus, there's nothing like walking along the Tiber on a brisk autumn morning.

The Lakes Region

Lake Iseo. (Photo by Piero M. Bianch/ Getty)
Lake Iseo. (Photo by Piero M. Bianch/Getty)

Italy has more than 1,500 lakes, and any of them would make for the perfect September, October or November vacation. But the lake region, which is in the north of the country, is home to some of the largest and most beautiful. You may recognize some of these lakes: Como, Garda or Lugano, but there are so many more: Maggiore, Iseo, Orta, Varese and beyond.

While these Italian lakes are popular summer vacation destinations, autumn sees less action, even though you can still enjoy boat rides, lakeside strolls and the general ambience of peace and tranquillity well into autumn or even early winter. Plus, there's nothing more relaxing than the beautiful reflection of leaves changing tones in the rippling lake waters.

The Amalfi Coast

Amalfi coast, Italy. (Photo by RomanBabakin/ Getty)
Amalfi Coast, Italy. (Photo by RomanBabakin/ Getty)

These cliffside villages just south of Naples between Sorrento and Salerno are some of the country's most coveted destinations in summer. Prices soar, and these small villages are often packed to capacity and beyond in months like July, August and even into September. That's why visiting in October or November is perfect. Although you may have a rainy or cool day, it's still possible to have some sunshine (maybe even beach weather) well into autumn along this southern Italian rugged coastline.

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Prices will be much more affordable, too. While many focus on these picturesque seaside villages themselves, you may not realize that these sea cliffs are backed by forests and mountains, including the Valle delle Ferriere, a nature reserve. This means that you can head up into these hills to see the changing leaves and enjoy some beautiful autumn hikes.

Piedmont

A village in Piedmont, Italy. (Photo by Fabrizio Fenoglio / 500px / Getty)
A village in Piedmont, Italy. (Photo by Fabrizio Fenoglio/500px/Getty)

Piedmont is famous for food and wine, so why not get an early start on that winter bod? The area is known for its white truffle hunting season from September to January. You can actually head out in the forest (a gorgeous plethora of autumn-hued trees) to forage for them, or simply enjoy these seasonal delights at restaurants. Serious truffle enthusiasts (or simply hungry travelers) should plan to stop at the Truffle Festival (October 9 to December 5, 2021) in Alba, a town famous for the rare funghi.

And Piedmont is home to the slow food movement, so there are plenty of other Piedmontese delights to indulge in while there, such as eggy pasta and full-bodied Barolo wines, perfect gastronomic choices for the incoming cooler weather autumn brings.

Related: 7 underrated regions in Italy for the best food and wine

The Italian Alps

A village at the base of the Dolomites. (Photo by Andrea Comi / Getty)
A village at the base of the Dolomites. (Photo by Andrea Comi/Getty)

Also known as the Dolomites, the Italian Alps are located in the northern Trentino-South Tyrol region of Italy. The area, which borders Switzerland, is known for skiing -- and you may actually be able to at the end of November when a few of the ski lifts open for the season. If you head over earlier, seeing these famed mountains swathed in autumn colors is just as breathtaking as seeing them covered in snow.

Plus, the area is chockablock with vineyards, castles and organic Alpine farms, all perfect activities to do during an autumn vacation. And if inclement weather hits, the region also has many spas and thermal baths to enjoy to warm up.

Tuscany

Vineyards in Tuscany. (Photo by Gary Yeowell/Getty)
Vineyards in Tuscany. (Photo by Gary Yeowell/Getty)

Most people don't have to be convinced to visit Tuscany at any time of year, but autumn can be an especially idyllic time to enjoy the region. Temperatures are pleasant and it's harvest season -- think mushrooms, chestnuts, olives and, of course, wine. Many villages have local sagras (festivals celebrating whatever local food or drink has been harvested or cultivated) and it's generally a gorgeous time for long hikes, long drives or long leisurely meals.

You can enjoy the changing tones of the leaves in many areas, but the Foreste Casentinesi is one of the best. The 229-square-mile national park is mainly woodland, so be ready for some seriously stunning foliage. The best times to see the massive color changes are the last few weeks of October and the first few of November.

Veneto

Prosecco vineyards in Veneto. (Photo by GitoTrevisan/ Getty)
Prosecco vineyards in Veneto. (Photo by GitoTrevisan/ Getty)

If you can face the possibility of rain and floods, Venice sees a significant drop in tourism during the autumn months, making it a much more relaxing place to explore the canal city. But the Veneto region offers a lot more than just Venice. A road trip through Prosecco Road, a 20-mile stretch of rolling vineyards between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano is truly idyllic as this cooler season breezes in.

If you need to warm up, the region is also full of thermal and mineral spas. Montegratto Terme is one of the best thermal baths in Veneto and also home to the Butterfly House and Fairy Forest, where you can admire hundreds of butterfly species and explore the unique paths of the forest -- just keep watch for ogres, trolls and fairies!

Bottom line

The colours of autumn in Italy. (Photo by Freeartist /Getty)
The colours of autumn in Italy. (Photo by Freeartist /Getty)

You really can't go wrong with a visit anywhere in Italy this autumn, but there are some spots that may be just a little more beautiful than others. Take into consideration that as autumn evolves, you'll see fewer tourists and lower prices, meaning a more affordable vacation if you're on a budget. Besides seeing the autumn colors, Italy's seasons are often marked by specific foods and wine, so make sure to enjoy all of these culinary delights when visiting this autumn, too.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees