Visiting Italy during the winter months in Italy is a totally different experience to Italy during the summer.
Most people flock to the Bel Paese during the splendid spring and summer periods. As such, there are many more things to do during this time. This means there are also many more people.
During the winter rather, many people take their annual leave and certain areas (such as the Cinque Terre) are nearly deserted of visitors and locals alike.
Here are some tips for travelling to Italy during the winter months.
Book and Plan Ahead
As not everything is open or available, it is best to plan your time so any hopes you may have to visit certain sites or museums are not hindered by their being closed.
Many services associated with tourism have limited or no availability. Group tours do not run, but you can still book ahead for a great range of private tours that can be run just for you. Whilst booking private activities may cost more, you’ll make up for it on the low-season rates for accommodation and flights.
One of the most splendid things about Italy during winter are the spectacular winter and Christmas markets. Ask at your accommodation for local markets taking place in the area you are visiting.
Lay It On With Layers
Whilst walking around the streets can be freezing cold, entering into a heated indoors area will require you to strip down. Any Italian nonna will tell you that overheating yourself indoors then stepping out into outside into the cold is a recipe for illness. The Italians keep their levels of snug just right by wearing various layers of clothing that can be put on or taken off accordingly.
The cobblestones in the historical cities can also be freezing cold. A woollen innersole inserted into your boots can make such a difference to how much you enjoy walking around the beautiful sites of Italy.
If you are visiting Italy in December or January, be sure to check out the local Presepio – the more traditional holiday decorations in Italy. Most cities and towns will have theirs up throughout December and January, with the traditional date to be put away usually considered as 8th February.
The baby Jesus is not placed into the manger until 25th December however.
For important feast days like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, it is a good idea to book ahead. Many restaurants close, whilst those that do remain open will have a set menu. Especially for small towns, if you don’t reserve in advance you may miss out altogether.
If you’re not at a set dinner for New Year’s Eve, you may also wish to go into one of the local squares or other locations (such as in Florence, where locals gather along the bank of the River Arno) with a bottle of Prosecco in hand to welcome in the new year.
On 6th January, there is then the Epiphany Day in Italy! Besides marking another feast day, there are also parades and other events to keep an eye out for. On 6th January in Florence, for instance, there is a great parade in the city centre.
‘Tis The Season
Food in Italy is very seasonal and revolves around local specialities. Be sure to read up on the best winter treats for each location you are visiting.
Whilst fresh tomatoes are not in season, the sauces made from them at the end of the tomato season are out in force and taste delicious!
There are more delicious traditional Italian Christmas and the New Year’s recipes than you can poke a fork at, making it a great time for foodies to travel.
Panettone, Panforte and Pandoro are then the most typical sweet treats to try in Italy.