5 Reasons to Visit Italy This Winter

Panoramic view of Naples

#1 This is when the diversity of the peninsula comes to life
Winter is when the size and diverse geography of the Italian peninsula really comes to light. In the north snow moves down to blanket the valleys south of the Alps. Meanwhile, in the south the days are filled with mild temperatures and cool evenings. You can go ice skating at Campo San Polo in Venice, and then head down to Naples for warmer days and fewer crowds. Docent Richard Bowen puts it best: “I have been saying for years that there is nothing better than a British Summer and a Roman Winter!”


Home made gnocchi by Context docent Patrizia Cantini in Florence
Home made gnocchi by Context docent Patrizia Cantini in Florence

#2 They step up their comfort food when it starts getting chilly
As the weather turns cool the Italian palate shifts towards richer meals to fill the belly and warm the soul. Hearty Florentine stews, polenta taragna, gnocchi, and grilled eggplant smothered in tomato sauces and parmesan cheese become mainstays of the peninsula’s diet. Pair these with a full bodied, red wine for a meal that will leave you satiated in body and mind.


The oculus of the Pantheon's dome in Rome
The oculus of the Pantheon’s dome in Rome

#3 Fewer crowds mean more intimate moments at famous sites
Many people dream of their trip to Italy involving quiet moments staring up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or contemplating the David in serene calm, but this vision is shattered as they wait in line with the droves of visitors that had the same idea. Winter is when those crowds thin out, and while the main attractions always have visitors, you can find yourself completely alone in the Vatican, the Uffizi, or Pompeii. This is the time of the year when locals visit the Pantheon, the Accademia in Venice, the Medici Chapels, and San Marco. Even the entire city of Venice, usually filled to the brim with travelers, can seem devoid of people during the colder months.


Carnival in Venice: masks at the bridge of sights (© Matteo Bertolin/Unionpress)
Carnival in Venice: masks at the bridge of sights (© Matteo Bertolin/Unionpress)

#4 A season of amazing events all across Italy
This winter cities across Italy have events to draw in the crowds. In Rome and Vatican City, the Jubilee of Mercy is underway. This February the city is preparing for the 200th anniversary of Gioachino Rossini’s masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, complete with special performances at the Opera of Rome and the Teatro Argentina. To the North, Venice will be awash in beautiful gowns and masks for Carnevale in February. For shopping fans, seasonal sales kick in across the country following the conclusion of the holiday season.


Bassano del Grappa
Bassano del Grappa

#5 The perfect time to get out of the big cities and explore
With amazing events happening all over the country and less crowds this is a great time to get out of the city and explore. The Alps and Dolomites are covered in pristine snow for skiing, and along the way you can stop at any number of quaint towns. Or make those small villages the point of your outing. Places like Bassano del Grappa are full of chic boutiques for shopping, fantastic local restaurants, and almost no tourists. When you finish your explorations, take a rest at one of the numerous thermal baths scattered across the peninsula, such as Viterbo near Rome or Saturnia near Siena and Florence.