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Aug 13, 2011 04:17 PM

Italy for a month

My fiancee and I are planning on spending the month of October in Italy. We want to spend a week in 4 different towns/areas/regions. We want to rent an apartment or stay in a small inn/farmhouse in each place. We are major foodies! What four locations should we pick? One week has to be in Tuscany, but where in Tuscany? Also, we need a car for the month - any ideas??\ We currently live in New York City. Thanks for your help.

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  1. There have been several discussions here about "which is the best eating region in Italy" over the past 6-12 months. Here is a link to one:

    The regions I would are pick are:

    1) The Langhe (in Piemonte
    )2) Emilia-Romagna (somewhere around Bologna)
    3) Southern Tuscany (somewhere around Pienza/Montalcino)
    4) Puglia

    1. In addition to David's recs I add Sicily. It is one of my favourite parts of Italy - very rustic peasant food with a North African influence.

      1. For food and wine in October on Italy's mainland, I would pick Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, the Emilia-Romagna and the Piemonte. I am sorry Sicily isn't practical, but since you want to go to Tuscany, it all works out anyway. In Tuscany, for food, I would pick the area around Arezzo, including the Chianti.

        If you don't possess a copy of Fred Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet Traveler I believe it should go to the top of your NYC "to-do" list. You can pick it up at any bookstore. He is a great guide to the region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia in particular, but the book is also fantastic in its wealth of detail for foodies about the regional cuisines of Italy and their individual gastronomic highlights. I cannot recommend the book too highly.

        I recently had a great deal of success using the 2011 Slow Food Osteria guide and its Locande guide, the latter of which focuses on gastronomic good experiences in lodgings that are wineries, organic food farms, cheese producers, etc. Obtaining copies, even though the recommendations are written in Italian, might go a long way in helping your choose the area of Tuscany that sounds like it would most appeal to you in terms of food and wine -- and they really are quite distinct. The area around Lucca is a gastronomic world away from what people are eating in Pitigliano. Some places have cheese, others have truffles, and some of the huge red wines south of Siena are either your cup of veritas or they are not.

        For Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, I would suggest being in the wine country of Cormons (in particular, La Subida), but leave sometime to enjoy the foods and coffees of Trieste for something more than a daytrip.,

        Rules of Chowhound forbid discussions of travel logistics unrelated to food, so if you ask your car questions on the Frommer's message board for Italy, they can be discussed there.

        7 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          although I do love all these northern suggestions, I strongly believe, with a month at your hands, at least one week of that should be in the south, either Puglia (with trips to Basilicata) or Sicily.
          And: does it have to be Toscany for some reason or is that self imposed? Do consider Umbria instead. Cheaper, less tourists, just as good food (if not better), including truffles in October.

          1. re: vinoroma

            Funnily, I was just having second thoughts and thinking the same thing, although I would pick Campania for a southern Italy experience, and Napoli specifically (without a car).

            I'd probably choose Le Marche over Umbria for food in October, including for truffles -- but certainly either over Toscana. Maybe the ideal solution would be the hills of Montefeltro, where Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche all meet.

            This link includes a lot of information about gastronomy in the Montefeltro. There are nine different kids of truffles in the Montefeltro, a truffle festival every Sunday in October in Sant'Agata in Feltria, But you can also go over to Rimini and other coastal spots in Emilia-Romagna and eat great seafood, hit up Perugia for chocoate, or head to Arezzo or the Chianti for lunch.


            1. re: barberinibee

              There is no question that in October I would pick, in order: Piemonte, there is nothing like it at that time of year, in fact my first two picks would be Piemonte and Piemonte; Emilia Romagna and the southern part of Lombardia, specifically the area in the countryside between Parma and Mantova (skip Bologna which is terribly over-rated re restaurants or go there for a day trip); Friuli, not only the wine country, but the area north of Udine into the mountains; I would skip Trieste for food, pace Barberinbee. My last choice would be the Abruzzo which at that time of year is marvelous.
              I live in Tuscany and love it. Skip it. Compared to the other areas at that time of year (except for game), it runs far in the distance with regard to food.Tuscany for food is best in the spring. The truffles in Tuscany and Umbria are nothing compared to Piemonte. On a scale of 1 to 10, Tuscan and Umbrian truffles are a 3 and Piemonte truffles are a 10.

              1. re: allende

                I can go along with the recommendation to skip Trieste for food in favor of Udine and the mountains, although I thought some seafood might be nice as part of the tour -- and I confess to be a coffee hound, and I loved the cafe life of Trieste.

                Lidia Bastianich is from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, and this is worth reading as one native's overview:


                1. re: barberinibee

                  I have not been in all the areas of Italy thus far but I agree on the recommendations of Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna/Lombardy (per Allende's recommendation but also the area of Emilia down toward Parma) given thus far, due to the classic quality of the cuisines there -tuscany pales by comparison.

                  It would be good for you to be in a coastal area with fine seafood for part of your visit.. the south of italy is more focused on vegetable flavors, as well as seafood (near the coasts) and meats inland. I am a big partisan of Naples (dont need a car) as both a place to be and eat and a cultural and culinary touring base. the simplicity and clearness of the flavors is a revelation if you are used to red sauce italian. However it does start to get rainy down there by late october, so visits to the nearby islands to sample their cuisine or to tha Amalfi coast are less viable and appealing.

                  these recommendations are if food is your only criterion. for cultural touring as an adjunct to your eating, areas like the Veneto, tuscany or Sicily might move into contention.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    It would be extremely unusual to get a solid week of rain in coastal Campania in October, even late October. Even 4 days solid would be unusual.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      thats correct, but its possible even likely that you will get several days with some rain/wind in that season. Its not as rainy as Nov, but getting there. We had about half sunny days and half with precip on our last visit. Its like we had three solid sunny days in our week and spent them at Pompeii, Ercolano and Campo Flegrei - the rest of the days were too iffy to go to sea so we never got to Ischia or Procida as planned. since we love the city of Naples that was ok, All depends on what you plan to do in addition to eating (happily, thats a mostly indoor activity)

                      The fact is that October is Fall in Italy, and rain is possible across the regions.Its still a super travel and food season, maybe the best, but its good to understand what you can expect, funghi porcini, truffles, apples, pears and grapes, game - and cooler, sometimes moister weather.

                      Wunderground is a good source for weather pattern information.

        2. Here is another thread that discusses eating options in the various regions of Italy:

          1. I have to agree with vinoroma. Does it have to be Tuscany? Umbria is a foodie paradise and she is right, truffles will be in Season. As well, you can go to Montefalco for their wine festival in October. I would also suggest Lazio, especailly the Tuscia. wonderful foods are in season in October. And of course the south Sicily.


            2 Replies
            1. re: SarahMayWineinRome

              The date of the original post is Aug 2011. I think the OP was planning a trip for October of 2011.

              1. re: PBSF

                I am sure that you shall hear 1,000,000 views from 1 million members; however, here are mine:
                1) emilia romagna ( bologna, parma, modena & rimini on the Adriatic )
                2) Veneto: verona, venice for its enchantment
                3) PUGLIA: gargano peninsula including vieste, lecce, the trulli architectural villages
                4) Firenze ( florence ), siena and a couple of wineries
                5) Valle D´Aosta - the mountains on the Swiss Frontier - beautiful
                6) amalfi coast ( breathtakingly stunning )