Ready or not, the holiday season is fast approaching – it’s only a few months away! The winter holiday season is becoming more and more a great time to travel as opposed to a period where people tend to stay at home with family. More frequently, instead of celebrating at home, people are traveling with their loved ones, exploring new places and in many cases, visiting them at a great time of year. Italy particularly lends itself as a great winter vacation spot, and famous dream destinations like Venice, Florence and Rome can be seen dressed up in their holiday best with a fraction of the tourists (and a fraction of the airfare costs) you’d experience in the top period of summer tourism.
A weeklong Italy itinerary in the winter might start with an arrival in one of our favorite cities in the world- Venice. Though this magical city in the water can be chilly in the winter, la Serenissima (Venice’s nickname of the “most serene one”) is even more so in the off season. The city has been getting a lot of negative press recently due to over tourism and cruise ships, and though we’d never discourage a visit to this gem, in the winter when you have it to yourself, the city has a certain special mysterious magic that you can’t help but fall in love with. Winter concerts in small venues nestled in little alleyways off canals, little if no wait at our favorite restaurants and wine bars- and why not try a Venetian tapas tour this time of year? It’s one of our favorite year round, but in the winter you’ll be sampling Veneto wines and a spritz (or two) along with happy locals in the holiday mood.
Florence is another wonderful winter destination. This elegant and small city gets dressed up in its holiday best. The Christmas market at Santa Croce is small but has an incredibly scenic backdrop, and is one of our favorite places to pick up local Tuscan snacks and handmade souvenirs (they make wonderful gifts for those at home). Tuscan cuisine – it’s hearty stews and game meats- make great company to the cold weather, and a glass of a wonderful Tuscan red nestled in one of our favorite cozy wine bars along the Ponte Vecchio. If you’re lucky to see a snowflake fall by the Christmas tree in front of the Duomo, we promise it’s a site you will never forget.
From Florence, you are an easy, high speed train ride down south to the Eternal City of Rome. Christmas IS Rome- the Vatican is a site that leaves even non-Catholics wide eyed with wonder, and over the holiday season, it’s even more special. If you are a church-goer, there is no better place to celebrate the holiday. Crowds are at a fraction of their summer size, and places like Piazza Navona don’t get more romantic than when you have it to yourself in the middle of the afternoon. Being in a city as opposed to a small town means that the restaurants and commercial activity are catering to locals- they don’t shut down for the winter like you will find in the smaller villages in the countryside. Many bars put out heaters in the outdoor seating when the temperatures cool down, meaning an aperitivo or dinner can still be enjoyed with a view- and this time of year, you can finally get that picture of the Pantheon without the tour groups blocking it! It is also a great time of year to get some spectacular winter deals at some of our hand picked, preferred accommodations in a city full of options from great 5 star luxury hotels to charming small hotels with a view.
If you are thinking about passing the winter holidays in some of our favorite Italian cities, its a great idea- and it’s not too late! Contact us to hear more about how we can put together a tailor made vacation for you.