As the swelter of summer subsides and autumn begins to tinge the leaves, a tiny brick-lined enclave just north of Downtown comes alive with the aroma of oregano, the poignant tones of accordions and beautiful young dancers gliding through traditional steps.

As the swelter of summer subsides and autumn begins to tinge the leaves, a tiny brick-lined enclave just north of Downtown comes alive with the aroma of oregano, the poignant tones of accordions and beautiful young dancers gliding through traditional steps.

Italian Village is a serene, laidback part of town tucked above I-670 between North High and North Fourth streets. And the neighborhood's annual celebration is a perfect fit.

Columbus Italian Festival, Oct. 7-9, is a chance to smell, taste and see the nation's lasting and colorful influence on Central Ohio.

At Italian Festival, you can grab a sausage sandwich and stroll by a two-court bocce tournament. You can order a plate of pasta from the basement of St. John the Baptist, the Catholic church that anchors the neighborhood. You can sip Peroni and watch dancers in embroidered Old World garb waltz and polka to brassy big-band tunes.

In a way, the Columbus festival season saves the best for last.

Nearby patios

Bodega

1044 N. High St., Short North

614-299-9399

columbusbodega.com

Bodega attracted its loyal flock by offering 50 beers on tap - craft ales and seasonal treats that few other local bars even knew about. What kept patrons on hand was an inventive menu with specials like $1 grilled cheese on Tuesday and a patio that stays as lively and packed as any in town.

Union Cafe

782 N. High St., Short North

614-421-2233

unioncafe.com

If watching people is your summer pastime, you won't find a better place than this bar and restaurant in the heart of the Short North. Union is beloved by the city's thriving LGBT community, but all types perch atop this outdoor space that provides umbrellas for shade, tables big enough for long meals and a great view of the High Street hustle.