If you’re willing to take fashion advice from a Canadian whose concept of Fall before moving to Italy was “that one pleasant day between summer and winter,” and whose main shoe supplier is Asics, listen up. But seriously, what to wear for Fall in Italy is a big question, and other than a practical response, it allows me to drag up some memories and play with language a bit.
Fall in Italy is the topic of this month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable and frankly, the topic has been killing me. The linguistic escamotage of writing about “falling in love in Italy” did cross my mind, as did the use of the verb to fall, as in falling on one’s face. Why? Because for the city dweller, Fall does not really mean chestnut picking, harvesting vines and chopping firewood for the hibernation ahead. At most, it means that the workday seems longer because it’s getting dark earlier and it gets harder to find a day to hang out laundry due to risk of rain. This year Italy’s had an extended summer, though finally this weekend I was able to dig out my favourite sweater and jacket. Now we will have two months of midseason.
There is a funny expression in Italian that my mother in law and consequently my husband enjoy saying: “non ci sono piu’ mezze stagioni.” It means “there are no midseasons any more.” I asked Tommaso about it and he explained that it’s not really a truism, but rather just one of those things that people say. Italy actually has long and pleasant midseasons. Spring, which I like a whole lot better than Fall, usually takes place in April and May, while Fall may be from mid-September through November. In these seasons there can be surprise thunderstorms, major temperature swings, but also really hot days where in the sun it goes up to thirty degrees.
My mother, when she visits during these months, always asks me what to pack for her trip – and then says “and don’t tell me ‘midseason clothing’ because you know I don’t have anything of the sort.” Well, what should I tell her? The reason Mom has no “midseason clothing” is that she lives in Toronto, where I grew up. I fondly remember Fall in Toronto. The leaves turn such a brilliant red, and in a valley near our house we would always go for walks and take pictures. As a child I’m bundled in a winter jacket, and as a teenager there are photos in which I ham it up in a shearling coat. Fall, apparently, is cold like January in Florence. As I will tell anyone willing to listen, I remember having to plan halloween costumes to accommodate a snowsuit throughout my childhood, foiling all attempts to dress in leggings and pretend to be a cat.
Thankfully in Italy I can enjoy a long midseason and, should I so desire, wear leggings and a cat costume, for it’s not too cold out.
What to pack
If you come to Florence in October you’re going to need to pack:
- Midseason pants. Yup! not linen, not summer pants, and not wool yet. Something in between, like jeans or heavy cotton.
- Layers. Maybe not a tank top, but a tshirt or light shirt should be your bottom layer
- Thin sweaters. It may not be time for a bulky sweater yet, though you could use one as a jacket. Rather this is the time for thin cashmere.
- Scarves. Because the Italian will cover his or her neck against any breeze, and they make for good accessories. Not a heavy wool winter scarf yet, but a pashmina or a big cotton scarf.
- A hat for evenings.
- A leather jacket or a trench coat, OR a big belted sweater.
- Boots if you want to look chic.
You’d never know it but I enjoy playing with Polyvore, so I’ve put together this suggested midseason look