Fall is one of the best times to go abroad—the weather isn’t as hot like the sweltering heat of summer and the tourist season has died down enough that you get to see the sights as a local.
Heading to Teach English in Italy this fall? This list will give you a dose of wanderlust for the Piedmont region and help you plan some of your weekends!
1. Wine and the Barbera Festival Costigliole d’Asti
Of course wine is number one! Italy is famous for wine, but the Piedmont region is famous within Italy for its Barbera wine grape which dates back centuries. In particular the wine Barbera d’Asti is famous and widespread throughout Italy. On the first weekend of November, Italians celebrate this wine with the Barbera festival Costigliole d’Asti during which 200 Barbera wines from the best producers in the region come to Asti to present their wine to the public.
Become an Italian wine expert after trying the Piemonte Chardonnay, Moscato di Asti, Cortese, and Asti Spumante DOCG. Could there be anything better than getting to taste test wine that comes directly from the area you live in in Italy??
2. Beautiful Castles
The Piedmont region has more castles than any other region in Italy because its royal families had to have somewhere to live and some way to protect themselves against their northern Teutonic neighbors. Until the end of October (and sometimes until mid-November) many of the castles are open to visit.
See the huge and abandoned fortress of Forte Albertino in Vinadio, the beautiful frescos in Castello della Manta in Manta, and the oldest Savoy residence, the medieval Castello di Moncalieri in Moncalieri just outside Turin. Experience the ancient history of Italy through these magnificent architectural masterpieces!
3. Alba’s White Truffle Fair
Calling all foodies! This festival which takes place every weekend from October 10th to November 15th in Alba is famous for its great food and wine. Although you may not want to spend €80 on the pricey authentic truffles, you can buy local truffle based foods like cheeses, oils, pasta, and many more in the large market hall. Wash all the food down with the excellent local wine, and there are also live concerts during some weekends of the festival.
Truffles are some of the most expensive and sought after ingredients in the world and Alba is the center of the action. Check out this short video by The Food Travelers to see the White Truffle Fair and some of the beautiful scenery of the Piedmont region. Start at 4:15 to see the streets of Alba, the mountains of the Piedmont region, and the foods and wine of the White Truffle Fair.
Warning: Watching the video is sure to induce wanderlust.
4. All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day
Another great thing about being in Italy during the fall is getting to experience the fall holidays! All Saints Day (Ognissanti in Italian) takes place on November 1st and is a family holiday. Many families have special types of food served on All Saints Day and it’s a national holiday, so everyone has the day off! All Souls’ Day (or Giorno dei Morti) is on November 2nd and is dedicated to honoring the dead. Many families visit the cemetery to pay respect to their lost loved ones. In addition some Italian families still adhere to some special traditions on All Souls Day, for example some families set their table at night waiting for the dead to feast or leave water out to rehydrate the dead.
5. The Alps
Fall is a great time to be in nature and the Piedmont region has access to the famous and ancient Alps. There are several national parks with great hiking trails and amazing views. The mountains closest to the Piedmont region in Northwestern Italy are called the Pennine Alps and there are tons of trails along and throughout the mountains. Take in the sweeping vistas of glaciers and valleys as you hike along the border between Italy and Switzerland. Visit Alta Valsesia Nature Park in Alagna Valsesia which has Monte Rosa, the highest point in Europe or head just north of the Piedmont region and see the famous Matterhorn Mountain. In the winter, trade in the fall leaves for the ski slopes. There are many resorts just on the border to Switzerland such as Zermatt, Verbier and Les Deux Alpes!
6. Christmas Markets—Mercatini di Natale
Although, not exactly a fall tradition, the Christmas Markets (or Mercatini di Natale) begin at the end of November and start off the Christmas season with lights, food, and delicious hot mulled wine. There are several Christmas markets in small villages and larger towns throughout the Piedmont area. Walk around munching on panettone cake while gazing at all the Christmas toys, handmade ceramics, candles, and holiday decorations for sale.
If you visit the large Christmas market in Turin, stay until the evening and see the Christmas light installations brighten up the city. Or if you’re looking for a small town market check out the Magico Paese di Natale in Govone which is famed for its picturesque nature and has 70 booths. And if you stay in Italy over the 6th of January you’ll get to experience la befana, a witch that comes at night with presents and coal for children.