The Barolo area is beautiful at every time of year, but it’s also vastly different at every time of year. From deep snow to baking sunshine, April showers to fall foliage, when you visit is going to have a huge effect on your experience here. So, when should you visit? That’s up to you, but here is my breakdown of what you can expect from each season…
Winter is cold and occasionally snowy. It usually snows a few times every winter, and when it does, it snows properly. The weather systems move up off of the Mediterranean sea, so they are full of moisture. They hit the cold, inland air and pow… we get masses of snow. It doesn’t tend to stick around for long though. It’s not uncommon to have 24 hours of heavy snowfall followed by a few weeks of sunshine.
The best winter days are cold, clear and sunny. There is a clarity to the air that changes the appearance of everything and the snow-covered Alps look close enough to touch.
In recent years, this has become the predominant weather. This past winter for instance, we had more than 100 days without any rain, and no snow after the first week of December. It wasn’t great for the vines, the water supply or the ski resorts.
Speaking of which, you can always combine a trip to the Langhe with a bit of skiing. Our closest resorts are just 45 minutes to the south, while driving for 1.5 hours, which is fine for a day trip, opens up a whole host of options, including Limone Piemonte, Crissolo, Prali and even, at a stretch, the Via Lattea.
There are some negatives though… when not covered in snow, the hills can look a bit bare, it gets dark early and some of the restaurants and wineries will be closed as many locals make the most of the quiet time to go on holiday. That said, the winemakers who are here will have much more time for tastings, the open restaurants will have more availability, accommodation might be a bit cheaper and more available and there will generally be fewer tourists around, enabling you to have a more authentic experience. That, and the food and wine here pairs really well with cold weather. Who wants Barolo and Brasato when it’s 30 degrees out? There is nothing finer than a cold afternoon spent sitting by a fire tasting wine and chatting with the producer.
Average Temperature: 2.2 Celsius or 36 Fahrenheit
Average Precipitation: 75mm per month
Average Sunshine Hours: 5.5 hours a day
Spring is predominantly warm and sunny, but with the occasional storm or rainy day. It’s rare to get more than a couple of consecutive days of rain though.
As the temperatures start to rise, there is a wonderful feeling of the whole area coming back to life. The vines begin to grow, the trees blossom and the locals emerge bleary-eyed from their hibernation (no, really!). Be prepared though, while it may feel warm to you, perhaps even shorts and t-shirt weather, you will get some funny looks from Italians wrapped up in puffer jackets and wooly hats. Spring is changeable and nobody wants to get caught out by a cool breeze or a passing afternoon storm. Don’t be fooled by the average temperatures… it is not uncommon for the mercury to rise well into the mid-twenties (75F) in April and May.
Tourism starts to pick up again in the spring, though mainly at weekends, with many people heading down from Turin or Milan. During the week it is still blissfully quiet.
Average Temperature: 12 Celsius or 55 Fahrenheit
Average Precipitation: 100mm per month
Average Sunshine Hours: 8.5 hours a day
Summer is usually hot, but not too hot, with a cool breeze blowing through in the evenings. Sure, it can get pretty warm during the day, but that’s what white wine and swimming pools are for… Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon, but they don’t tend to last long.
In my experience, late-June into July is the hottest period with things cooling down a little by August. Again, don’t be fooled by the average temperature… summer temperatures are generally in the mid- to upper-twenties, with a few weeks in the 30s (85F).
While in the past many restaurants and wineries were closed during the summer, particularly in August, this is usually not the case anymore, so with a bit of advanced planning you should have no problem finding places to stay, eat or taste.
Average Temperature: 22 Celsius or 72 Fahrenheit
Average Precipitation: 70mm per month
Average Sunshine Hours: 11 hours a day
If you’re interested in visiting Barolo, you’ll no doubt have heard that Fall is the best time. And it is…. the vines change colour, the grapes are harvested and you can search for and, more importantly, eat white truffles.
At its finest, a Fall day in the Langhe starts with a thick fog down in the valleys. Go up a couple of hundred metres though and you can rise above it and get the most glorious view of villages, castles and hilltops poking through the thick, white sea. By late morning, the fog dissipates, giving way to clear skies, crisp air and a still warm sun.
Of course, not every day can be like this. It sometimes rains too. But, thankfully, an awful lot of fall days follow exactly this pattern.
Now for the negatives… it is the busiest time of year; tourists, both local and international flock to the area, particularly at weekends, for the White Truffle Fair. And winemakers are also pretty busy, so organising tastings can be tricky. Lots of tourists also means busy restaurants, so you definitely need to plan ahead.
All that said, if you stay somewhere good (ahem…) the owners will be able to direct you to more off-the-beaten-path places, helping you to get an authentic experience away from the crowds. Plus, crowds in the Langhe probably wouldn’t be considered crowds in most places. We’re just not used to it as it is so quiet for the rest of the year!
As always, the average temperature is a bit misleading. September averages a very pleasant 18 Celsius (64F) while the mercury drops sharply in November, with an average of 7 Celsius (44F)
Average Temperature: 12.5 Celsius or 55 Fahrenheit
Average Precipitation: 123mm per month
Average Sunshine Hours: 8 hours a day