You probably wouldn’t think of Italy for as a winter vacation destination, but if you’re planning on visiting the cities, or are a fan of winter sports, then it can be the perfect place for a winter getaway.
1. Amazing prices
In most cities, hotel prices can be reduced by as much as half in the winter months, so you can save money AND choose hotels in great locations with fantastic views.
2. Fewer crowds
You won’t get pushed around the sites and museums like you will in the summer, and there are fewer large tourist groups blocking the narrow museum corridors.
3. Winter Sports
Running east to west at the north of the country are the beautiful Alps provide a natural border with France, Austria and Switzerland. In the Val d’Aosta region, you’ll find Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), the highest peak in the Alps, where it is usually possible to snow all year round. Courmayeur is one of the most popular destinations, having great shopping, food, views and climbing in summer, as well as some challenging skiing.
On the other side of the country, are the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Technically part of the Alps, they stretch through the Veneto and Alto Adige regions. If you are looking for somewhere special, follow the well-to-do Italians to Cortina d’Ampezzo, a favored location for the traditional settimana bianca (‘white week’ aka annual skiing holiday).
Italy’s other mountain range is the Apennines, which run down the center of the country. The highest part is in the region of Abruzzo, just a few hours from Rome.
If you fancy skiing in warmer climates, head down to Sicily where you can sun yourself while skiing on the slopes of Europe’s highest volcano! The slopes on Mount Etna aren’t as impressive as the ones in the north, but if you want to say you’ve skied down a volcano, then it’s the place to go! And the views are unparalleled .
4. Mild Weather
Italy is so long, that it’s hard to generalize about the weather. In many years (this one being an exception), warm temperatures continue in Sicily into November, and it’s still possible to take a dip in the sea! Further north, November can be rainy, but by December it’s not usually to have a sunny Christmas in Rome (cold, but sunny).
5. Christmas Markets
Italy has some great Christmas markets, especially up in the north where the German influence is stronger. Check out 10 of the best here.
6. Harvest Time
Late October through November is a great time for food lovers to come to Italy. During this time, olives are harvested and taken to the local olive mill, where each family will jealously guard their olives, until they are turned into the green-gold elixir which is THE essential ingredient in all Italian cooking!
At the same time, the grapes are being brought in and soon this year’s vino novello, or ‘new wine’ will be ready for tasting. Vineyards across the country welcome visitors to come and learn about the wine making process, taste their wines and of course, buy some to send home!
November is also white truffle season in Italy; the most highly-prized of the truffle varieties. For a fun day, get out in the woods and join the professional hunters and their dogs for a truffle hunt. Many towns also have special festivals celebrating truffle season, as well as markets selling the local finds.
7. Seasonal Delights
From mid-November, the shops fill up with seasonal goodies which can be hard to find at other times of the year, like pandoro, panettone, torrone, tartufi (chocolate truffles), panforte and panpepato. You can find these throughout Italy, though each region has its own recipes or variations as well.
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