It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking winter in Italy equals skiing — after all, there are more than 300 ski areas to choose from. But look beyond the Alps and you’ll discover a plethora of activities away from the slopes; head further south and you’ll find a mild climate and quiet towns outside of the peak tourist months.
Sure, you’ll have to wrap up warm — but hiking along the Amalfi coast or in the Dolomites is far more enjoyable in the winter than in the hot summer months. Not only is it far quieter, but the views are — dare we say it — nicer. You’ll get that spectacular winter wonderland feeling amongst the mountains, and the crisp freshness of evergreens by the coast. Combine with a hearty Italian lunch; what more could you want?
Be a culture vulture
The big advantage of heading to Italy during the winter is that it’s a lot quieter than during the hazy summer months. You won’t have to queue for museums and exhibits, and you’ll find the bucket-list-worthy areas far less crowded than they would be in the blazing sunshine. The major attractions don’t tend to close, except for a few days over Christmas, so you’ll be able to tick them off your list — and get some unobstructed photos too. For smaller museums and galleries, it’s worth checking in advance. Some may operate on reduced hours over the winter months.
Take a cookery class
You don’t need us to tell you that Italian food is some of the best on Earth. But picture this — there’s snow on the ground, but you’re snug in a room with a roaring fire, freshly cooked Italian food, and filled with like-minded foodies. Oh, and there’s more red wine than you could shake a stick at. If cooking isn’t really your thing, you could always arrange your own personal chef to cater for you at your villa. You’ll get a truly personal service you won’t find in a hotel, and you won’t even have to leave the house to experience gorgeous, local food.
Shop ’til you drop
It might not be the most high-brow pursuit but you’ll find the best bargains in the shops during the winter months. The sales typically start in early January, and you could find yourself venturing home with a heavier suitcase than when you left.
Visit an opera
Opera season runs throughout winter and into early Spring, which makes it the perfect time to head to one of the many theatres in Italy to revel in some of the classics (or even discover a new favourite). Whether you’re an opera aficionado or a complete newbie, there’s something magical about watching a performance in the country where the art form was born.
Jo Mackay is Owner of Bookings For You. Bookings For You is a company offering apartment and villa rentals in Italy and France.