Don't get me wrong, Italy is a wonderful place to be in the summer. So wonderful that everyone in the world wants to visit then.
For a peaceful and relaxing vacation and more bang for your buck, consider an off-season travel time. Here are our top three reasons to go to Italy in the winter and mid to late fall:
1. Little Competition for the Best of Everything
The first upside is having the place to yourself. Since so few people come in the winter, you'll have no lines to wait in, getting reservations will be a breeze, and you can enjoy your pick of hotel rooms, even last minute upgrade possibilities.
The lack of competition for things also means that you'll have more time to sightsee because you'll be spending less time getting around and waiting for tables. Visiting museums, churches and other attractions will be smooth and you will be able to enjoy it all in peace. You'll also have the full attention of helpful shopkeepers and others who you want to chat with.
Tour groups are smaller and more intimate so you'll get more personal attention from your guide. And let’s not forget, off-season traveling also means off-season prices. You'll get more for your money in the fall and winter months.
2. Italians Go Crazy for Christmas
Not many tourists are in Italy in December and it's a shame, because they're missing lavish holiday decorations that you don't have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate. Hand-carved and painted ‘presepe’ and elaborately decorated wreaths and Christmas trees are everywhere. Italians really know how to deck the halls. Italian winter foods such as chestnuts are sold on the street. You can enjoy a syrupy hot chocolate that's nothing like the kind you get in the United States. It's like drinking pure chocolate.
If you visit Florence, you can enjoy the Christmas fair, which is an international affair drawing vendors from around the world to share their unique gifts and treats, such as woolens from Scandinavia and a wide variety of fresh seasonal produce. December in Italy is an ideal time to shop for holiday gifts as well. Just leave room in your suitcase when you go.
3. Mild Temperatures Allow Comfortable Outdoors Outings
Walking outside in Italy in the winter, even in central cities such as Florence and Venice, is rarely difficult because of weather. Temperatures for the winter months range greatly from Sicily to Milan, the northernmost city. On the same day it may be snowing in Milan and be 70 degrees in Sicily.
In Venice the mercury will go only slightly below freezing at night and snow is unusual, typically only an inch when it happens. Rome's average temperature in January is 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in February, Rome gets eight hours of sun a day. In the fall, Tuscany, with a mild climate, is alive with the harvesting of olives, grapes and truffles, and green is always in the landscape. Nights can get cold, but days are generally mild.
Italy’s fabulous Carnevale, with parades, masquerade balls and folk festivals, takes place in February all over the country. It’s a popular winter celebration that draws travelers from all around the world.
Of course, the mountains are chilly in winter. You can find some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Italian Alps.
Hot temperatures are ideal for a beach vacation, but if you prefer a very active vacation that involves a great deal of walking and sightseeing, why not try the fall or winter months? If you bring layers, you'll be prepared for whatever weather may come your way. If you do feel cold, you can warm up with a soft, toasty cashmere scarf sold by street vendors all over Florence and a steaming cup of caffè macchiato, which tastes even better when it's cool outside.
Thinking about an off-season trip to Italy, or want to get a jump booking for the summer months? Call us to chat about your options at 617-723-0802. Download our free e-book, the Ultimate Guide to Italy, to see where to go.