One of the best things about living in Europe is being able to fly to a different country for the weekend. A couple of hours on a cramped budget airline and you can experience a completely new culture, cuisine, and city. A few weeks ago I traded the hostel life for a 5-star hotel when my mom and I went to Florence, Italy.
While writing this blog post I realized that it’s much easier to soak in a culture when I’m alone. From the swanky Westin balcony, I quickly switched into kid-on-vacation-with-parent mode—a totally different mindset than my usual curious-backpacker-on-a-budget mode. I found it hard to come up with an interesting take on Florence beyond what it is at face value: a gorgeous time capsule. Obvious observations aside, I decided to focus on how particularly lovely the city is during the fall.
Having never visited Italy before, I was excited to carbo-load on some of the world’s best food and to see if this country was as endearing as its reputation. Not only did Florence exceed my expectations, but I’m convinced that autumn is one of the best times to visit for its temperate weather, fall foliage, and thinning crowds.
The weather is mild.
Even in mid-November, the skies were mostly sunny and temps were mild. Since Florence is a walking city, we enjoyed the Duomo, leather markets, and time-capsule architecture without having to bundle up too much. It was the perfect temperature for cozying up in a wine bar at night. Plus, without the scorching temps gelato shop lines are shorter.
The crowds at Cinque Terre are nonexistent.
Cinque Terre, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations (and a day trip’s distance from Florence), was practically empty. During the summer, hordes flock to the colorful coastline for its beaches and picturesque scenery. (Recently the government has talked about curbing tourism there.) However, we were able to roam freely through the towns’ narrow walkways, thankful to avoid what would otherwise be a sweaty nightmare. As for Florence, traveling during the off-season means cheaper fares, less-crowded museums, and shorter restaurant wait times.
Enjoy wine country’s fall colors.
What better way to wash all those carbs down than with copious amounts of Chianti? Whether you’re looking to tour a Tuscan winery or simply take in the rolling hills from a rooftop bar, the region is undeniably beautiful and awash with golden fall hues. The trees complement the town’s colors, making Florence in the fall even more charming.
Don’t sleep on Italy—or much of Europe for that matter—during the off-season fall and winter months. With fewer tourists, it’s one of the best times to enjoy the sights.