November is the off-peak tourist season in Italy, making it the perfect fall destination for those who enjoy crisp weather and a lack of crowds. Travel to Italy during this timeframe allows you to participate in popular local (and tourist-free) autumn events, too. Harvest-time truffle fairs and music and art festivals that celebrate the start of the performing arts season are some must-do engagements. Plan your itinerary around one or two events for a memorable trip and a full-blown cultural experience.
Alba White Truffle Festival
November is truffle season in Italy, especially in and around the Piedmont region. And the Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco D'Alba—one of the biggest truffle festivals in Italy—starts in October and ends around the third week in November. This event features the highly coveted Tartufo Bianco truffles, an aromatic and flavorful variety. And since this type of truffle is delicate (and worth its weight in gold), you can view them displayed in shops under glass, purchase them for up to 500 euros per hundred grams, and then eat them fresh and raw.
This colorful festival is held in the medieval Tuscan town of San Miniato on the second, third, and fourth weekends in November. Craft stands, entertainment, and restaurants feature the celebrated truffles during the fair. And you can even take part in a truffle hunt.
Monte Amiata Chestnut Festival
November also marks the time for chestnut season in many Italian towns and villages. Festivals celebrating this delicacy usually take place on the weekends and involve tasting the best local products. Monte Amiata Chestnut Festival in Crastatone runs from October through early November where you can enjoy roasted, boiled, and dried chestnuts while perusing local art. Don't miss the special fall menus at regional restaurants, highlighting truffles, chestnuts, and wild mushrooms. Look for special harvest dishes served on Sunday and make an outing of it.
Roma Jazz and Film Festivals
Beginning in late September and running through early December, the Roma Europa Festival presents musical works of art in venues all around Rome. Various performances include drama, music, and dance to suit almost every taste. Attend the Roma Jazz Festival during the first week of November, featuring Italian and international artists playing an eclectic mix of music. You can also catch an evening film at the acclaimed Rome International Film Festival (or RIFF), just make sure the film is subtitled if you don't speak Italian.
All Saints Day Church Visits
Celebrated on November 1, All Saints Day is a national holiday in Italy. And while many shops will be closed, most top tourist attractions and museums remain open. Use this day to attend ancient churches that are not usually open to the public. On All Souls Day, November 2, Italians bring flowers to the cemeteries to honor their deceased relatives. A stroll through a cemetery on this holiday makes for a beautiful jaunt.
The Feast of Our Lady of Good Health
One of Venice's most important celebrations, this festival is held on November 21 at Madonna Della Salute Church. It commemorates Venice's deliverance from the plague in 1621 with a temporary bridge erected across the Grand Canal, marking the occasion. On the day, thousands of pilgrims cross over the bridge to the church in a very beautiful procession.
Oberdrauburg Christmas Market
While Christmas markets are widespread throughout Italy this time of year, the Oberdrauburg Christmas Market (a 15-minute drive from Florence) should not be missed. This festival straddles the country's border and is held in the twin cities of Maromme, France, and Oberdrauburg, Austria. Take this opportunity to visit Italy's neighboring countries while buying culturally unique Christmas presents to bring back to the States.