Venice is beautiful all year round, but autumn is one of my favourite times to visit. The weather may not be as hot as the summer months, but the crowds are fewer, there are some exciting festivals and events, and the occasional rain shower gives you the ideal opportunity to hole up in a bacaro (wine bar) with a glass of red. If you need a little help choosing which time of year to visit Venice, here’s why I’d vote for autumn.
Summer may be beautifully warm and sunny – but it can get a little too hot at times, particularly when you’re walking through the busier parts of town. September, on the other hand, is still nice and warm, but average highs are a more comfortable 24°C. Still al fresco dining weather, but not so hot you’re constantly seeking out the shady side of the street. October is cooler (bring layers), with a little more rain but still plenty of crisp, blue-sky days (great for sunrises and sunsets). In November, you’ll probably want to bring a coat and boots (preferably waterproof, in case of flooding), but this time of year you tend to get some incredibly atmospheric mists over the lagoon, which are fantastic for photography.
Tourist numbers dwindle the further into autumn you go, so if you prefer fewer crowds, late October and November are brilliant – the summer masses have long gone, but the Christmas crowds are yet to arrive. September and early October will still be busy (it’s Venice, after all!), but you should find that it’s a little less crowded than the high summer months.
Events and festivals
Venice’s events calendar has some great entries for the autumn. First up is the Historical Regatta (first Sunday in September), which involves an elaborate parade of historical boats and races along the Grand Canal. Then there’s the Sagra del Pesce, a fishing festival on Burano island (third Sunday in September); Sagra del Mosto, a celebration of the year’s first wine on the lagoon island of Sant’Erasmo (first Sunday in October); and the Festa della Madonna della Salute on 21 November, when a procession is led across a temporary bridge from San Marco to the Salute. There are usually also a fair number of events and exhibitions going on for the famous Venice Biennale, a celebration of art and architecture.
Food and wine
Autumn is harvest time, so you’ll find plenty of delicious fresh produce piled high at the Rialto Market. Look out for porcini mushrooms – they’re ideal in risotto, a classically Venetian dish. Autumn is also harvest time for grapes; the Veneto region is one of Italy’s best for producing wines, both still and sparkling. If you’ve got the time, a day trip out to one of the countryside vineyards is a great autumn outing (particularly in October, when the leaves are golden). And, of course, the cooler weather is just right for cosying up with a cup of rich, thick cioccolata calda – perfect after a morning’s sightseeing.
If the thought of quieter canals and misty mornings on the lagoon has tempted you, take a look at our autumn city breaks to Venice and start planning!