With 2020 putting our travel plans on hold, Tim and I often find ourselves reminiscing about our European travels. Two years ago, we spent part of October traveling through Italy. You might have seen here that we got engaged in Rome during that trip. Needless to say, Italy holds a special place in our hearts. It’s one of the most amazing countries we’ve ever been to with its rich history, delicious cuisine, and picturesque scenery. Autumn is a wonderful time to experience the charm of Italy, so I’ve put together this guide in hopes of helping those of you who are interested in visiting Italy in October in the future.
As it was both of our first times in Italy, we wanted to experience the most popular cities for ourselves. We started in central and southern Italy and made our way up north. Here is a breakdown of our trip:
Our original plan included a quick stop in Cinque Terre from October 26-28. Due to a train strike, we couldn’t get out of Florence that day, which ended up being a blessing in disguise because it rained non-stop in Cinque Terre and we were already exhausted from travel at that point.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In the past, October was considered a slow season with less crowds. Now, October has become widely popular with travelers from around the world. I’m sure it’s less busy compared to summer time, but there is still quite an influx of visitors. Expect large crowds around popular sites and restaurants. The only city that actually felt slow was Positano, since the seaside town starts to shut down before winter hits.
In October, there are many sunny days and many rainy days. You’ll get about 10-11 hours of daylight depending on where and when you travel. Overall, weather will depend on the area you’re visiting and dates you travel. We were lucky to experience pleasant weather for most of our trip. In Rome and Positano, we enjoyed remnants of summer with a day of storming in Positano. Weather was in the high 60’s to high 70’s. In Florence, mornings and nights were cold and days were crisp. Weather ranged from low 50’s to high 60’s. As we made our way up north and got deeper into the month, things took a cold and rainy turn. It rained non-stop in Milan and when we arrived in Venice, it was pouring rain and the city was flooded, otherwise known as aqua alta. Once the flooding subsided the next day, weather was cold and windy with sporadic appearances from the sun. In the north, weather was in the low 50’s to low 60’s.
Tip: If you don’t like cold weather, skip northern Italy if you are visiting at the end of October. Pleasant weather during that time is rare. I’d compare our experience to winter in California.
CLOSURES AND PRICES
October can be a good time to visit for those on a budget since plane tickets are a bit cheaper and hotel prices in certain areas drop too. There was not a significant dip in hotel prices in the big cities, but many hotels in Positano were offering lower rates. We booked a room at the infamous Le Sirenuse in Positano and saved around 150€ per night. The downside to cheaper prices is that some of the smaller towns start to shut down as it becomes colder. In Positano, there were a handful of things we couldn’t do due to closures.
WHAT TO PACK
Make sure to pack layers since the weather in October is unpredictable. You’ll need light layers for the warm days and thicker layers for the cold days. Don’t forget sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, and rainboots. I wouldn’t say a raincoat is absolutely necessary since you can use umbrellas from your lodging. Below are some basics I’d recommend, but of course you’ll need to consider the dates and areas of travel.
IS IT WORTH VISITING ITALY IN OCTOBER?
Absolutely. I’d go back to Italy in October in a heartbeat. For the most part, weather was pleasant and we made lifelong memories together, even knee deep in a flooded city. In the future, we’ll stick to central or southern Italy and save the northern cities for warmer months. We’re very much sunshine people, so gloomy and cold weather can put a damper on things for us.
What we didn’t know is that there are a ton of food festivals in Italy during October because it’s harvest season. As first timers to Italy, that’s something we overlooked since we were so excited to finally be visiting our bucket list cities. Next time, we want to attend some food festivals and road trip through Tuscany.