August 16 , 2022
It’s hard to imagine in the heatwave of summer, but, at least temporally, fall is just around the corner. Before you think of going back to school, stocking up on cans of pumpkin puree, and whether you should host this year’s Thanksgiving feast… consider planning an Autumn escape to Europe! Fall in the Schengen zone welcomes grape harvests, peaceful Mediterranean beaches, and golden hikes.
Most Europeans take their vacations in August, so there are real advantages to planning a trip for the fall (shoulder season), after peak travel season is over. Thinner crowds, just-right temperatures, and more affordable prices, what’s not to love? These are 3 European destinations that really shine during the Autumn season…
#1 : Bologna & the Emilia-Romagna foodie region, Italy
Craving an Italian vacation? Don’t overlook Bologna! The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, centered between Venice and Florence, Bologna is easy to reach by plane or train. Italy’s heartland is home to the most famous Italian products and coziest dishes – Bolognese sauce, mortadella, fresh tortellini and cappelletti pastas, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, and Modena’s richly aged balsamic vinegar. Autumn is a particularly good time for a foodie visit, as there are plenty of gastro-centric sagre (local festivals) held during these months. From grapes, for wine or vinegar, to cheeses, truffles, cured meats as well as chocolate, there’s a culinary experience for every tastebud. Take the roads by car or bike through vineyards and hilltop towns among Bologna, Modena and Parma, the three heavy-hitter foodie destinations. You’ll also be charmed by the romantic architecture of elegant arcades, pink-marbled cathedrals and charming medieval streets. Say goodbye to your summer diet with relish in this foodie paradise.
#2 : Provence villages & wine trails, France
As the crowds of summer dissipate, along with the heat, and the last of the towering sunflowers are harvested, the best is yet to come from the fields of Provence. Autumn grape harvests (les vendanges) and mild market days find the south of France at its most quintessential. In early fall, take advantage of the mingling seasonal flavors – orange melon, summer squash, eggplant, and the first muscat grapes. As the season progresses, a slight nip in the air is an invitation to welcome back warming, rustic dishes to the menu. Summer ratatouille is replaced by hearty meat stews and soupe au pistou. Red Camargue rice is harvested in September, followed by exquisite Ventoux saffron in October, and truffle season starts in November. All of this amid the buzz of the wine harvests, open vineyard days, and harvest festivals dedicated to grapes, mushrooms, chestnuts and olives particularly. Make sure to pair your seasonal eating with excursions into the vineyards and towns. Fall is the best time for hiking and biking the picturesque trails of Provence. The golden light over the vineyards and medieval stones will give you an insight into the artistic inspiration felt by many great masters.
#3 : Ljubljana & the forested lakes and mountains, Slovenia
Slovenia is still somewhat of an unspoiled gem in Europe. The country is renowned for its natural beauty, and it aims to keep it that way – Slovenia is a leader of sustainable tourism in Europe, and as such has been awarded multiple honors by the European Commission, including the European Green Capital Award. Ljubljana is one of the quietest, cleanest, most charming small capital cities you will ever encounter. Autumn is a great time to take advantage of its plentiful city biking paths. About an hour from the capital, you’ll find the majestic splendor of famous Lake Bled on the edge of Triglav National Park. Here, the Julian Alps kiss emerald-green lakes to form a backdrop befitting a fairytale, or a modern-day outdoor adventure. Active travelers can find their paradise in the mountain trails of Triglav, beautiful lakes Bled and Bohinj, and the winding Soča River. Slovenia’s wine scene shines in the fall, especially during the celebration of St Martin’s Day in November. Sweet treats are featured at Ljubljana’s October chocolate festival, and the ‘Sweet Istria’ festival in the gorgeous seaside town of Koper in September. A sojourn in Slovenia is guaranteed to be your greenest European getaway!