Rural Retreats in Italy for the Autumn

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

With Italy now open to tourists across Europe, many of us will be looking to return. Make the most of this captivating time of year by seeking out areas of enticing autumnal landscape allowing you to escape the crowds while also celebrating the season through annual events and the region’s seasonal gastronomy.


Red, orange and yellow leaves transform the Piedmont landscape each autumn. Woodland becomes the setting for seasonal truffle hunts and vineyards emerge from the annual grape harvest. While the medieval town of Alba hosts its annual white truffle fair, Cuneo holds a national chestnut fair and Turin tempts visitors with this season’s chocolate festival. For a rural retreat making the most of this landscape and seasonal celebration, it’s worth visiting picturesque areas of Piedmont like Langhe where exploration of the outdoors comes with an introduction to the region’s slow food philosophy and locally made wine.

A number of luxury hideaways offer an immersion into bucolic areas of the enticing region. The recently opened Casa di Langa hotel, for example, pairs a focus on sustainability and contemporary interiors that take inspiration from the natural environment with an introduction to Piedmont’s gastronomy, wine traditions and overall community spirit. This new hotel also has the world’s first truffle concierge. Over in Montferrat, the new boutique hotel Nordelaia takes over an 800-year-old farmhouse that has undergone a complete redesign with Pinot Noir vines also planted in the property’s gardens. From these and other rural retreats in the area, activities range from wine tasting and foraging to guided hikes, cooking classes and art tours.


As well as avoiding the summer crowds, coming to Tuscany in the autumn months allows easier exploration of the sprawling countryside’s hilltop towns, along with the cities of Florence and Rome flanking this vast region. This is also the time each year that the communities of villages and towns across the region celebrate Tuscan food, wine and culture through countless local festivals. These annual events include the white truffle fair of Corazzano, the DOC wine festival of Montescudaio and the chestnut celebration of Arcidosso.

Visitors can base themselves in luxury villas like those of Borgo Pignano, a 750-acre organic estate where accommodation spans an 18th-century house and restored cottages-turned-villas including the recently completed Villa La Lavandaia. The restaurants here highlight organic, locally sourced and home-grown produce including honey, olive oil and wine. Experiences in autumn include joining truffle hunts after which the truffles you’ve found are used in autumnal dishes back at the hotel. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is also celebrating fruits of the Tuscan harvest this autumn with experiences such as truffle hunting and classes at the onsite cooking school. 


The Dolomites take on an entirely new look in autumn when the trees are filled with orange and yellow leaves. This is an ideal time, before the colder weather and snow arrives, to make the most of outdoor pursuits like hiking with beauty spots including Lago Di Braies and Val Gardena to head to. Owing to these autumn colours, the region proves attractive to photographers as well as hikers at this especially picturesque time.

With its location in the village of San Cassiano at the heart of the Dolomites, Rosa Alpina, an Aman partner hotel, is an ideal base for venturing into the surrounding landscape. The hotel hosts active and wellbeing retreats in which exploration of the landscape on foot or by bike is followed by Alpine treatments in the onsite spa and a fine dining experience incorporating local and seasonal ingredients at the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant St. Hubertus, which also has a green Michelin star for its sustainability efforts. The five-star Hotel Sassongher in Corvara also places a focus on hiking and biking before the snow arrives when it becomes a destination for winter sports.


The cooler days at this time of year make autumn the ideal time to see more of the dramatic landscape making up Sicily’s interior. This island’s mountainous landscape—famously home to Mount Etna—is home to a number of picturesque Baroque towns, many ancient ruins and sprawling areas of flourishing vineyards and citrus groves. Festivals including Ottobrata Zafferanese are held around the Mount Etna area at this time of year to celebrate the harvest of this season’s abundant produce along with the local wine.

While staying on the idyllic coast at a luxury property like Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel in Taormina or Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel in Taormina Mare, excursions take you inland for a greater discovery of the island as a whole. You can venture into the hills for wine tasting at one of the many vineyard estates, hike across the volcanic landscape of Mount Etna and try regional dishes using seasonal ingredients like truffles and porcini mushrooms. 

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