Why fall is the (new) perfect time to enjoy the Mediterranean's quiet rhythms

To travel without crowds is to travel truly.

Harper's Bazaar India

Blame The White Lotus. This summer, Sicily was overwhelmed with tourists. Legendary beach-club destinations like Capri and Mykonos are typically elbow to elbow in July and August, but since Covid-related travel restrictions were lifted, they have been especially packed—despite the record high temperatures. This explains why savvy travelers are not only planning trips to the Mediterranean islands in September and October, they are also venturing further afield.

“Autumn is my favourite time,” says French architect Marie Rivalant-Lazarakis, owner of two intimate properties on the quiet Greek isle of Kastellorizo, part of the Dodecanese archipelago. Mediterraneo, a lemon-yellow guest house, is named for the 1991 Oscar-winning film that was shot there. Last summer, Rivalant-Lazarakis partnered with two friends, Grégoire Du Pasquier, also an architect, and Luc Lejeune, an interior designer, to open the blood-orange all-suite hotel Casa Mediterraneo across the harbour. Made of three conjoined neoclassical buildings, the hillside property features six airy suites with sea views and private terraces.

When it comes to Spain’s Balearic Islands, it’s always been Ibiza and Mallorca that have gotten all the attention. But now the more rural Menorca, with its art-world cachet (Hauser & Wirth opened an outpost there in 2021), turquoise water, and dramatic copper-hued beaches, is having a moment. Thanks to Menorca’s strict historical-preservation laws, there has been a boom of exceptionally stylish agroturismo properties, from the Menorca Experimental to Santa Ponsa. The latest and greatest is Son Blanc Farmhouse, an abandoned 19th-century stone manor refurbished as a 14-room boutique hotel with an infinity pool overlooking olive groves. It was renovated by the London-based couple Benoît Pellegrini and Benedicta Linares Pearce, who is from Menorca. They spent years replanting the land so that by the time Son Blanc opened this spring, the kitchen team was harvesting herbs, tomatoes, and artichokes to supply the garden-to-table restaurant.

Even in Sicily, it’s possible to find a quiet corner. Venture inland and you’ll find the newly opened Palazzo Previtera in Linguaglossa, with three rooms and two garden cottages set within a 17th-century family property on the northern side of Mount Etna. Owner Alfio Puglisi spent the past 10 years impeccably restoring its ornate interiors: grand spaces lined with brightly patterned historic silk fabrics and colourful floor tiles, elaborately painted ceilings, and valuable antiquarian books. Fall is a great time to visit, as some of the wines being made in the area’s volcanic soil have been gaining a cult following and the harvest traditionally takes place in September. Staying here is less like hustling for space with other Americans and more like staying with a charming host

This piece originally appeared in the September 2023 print edition of Harper's Bazaar USA