I recently traveled to Italy in December for the first time and fell in love all over again.
Now, I’ve visited Italy many times in many different seasons, and I highly recommend considering an off-season or wintertime visit to this stunning country.
Here are my top 5 reasons!
Most of Italy is cool, but comfortable, in the winter time. Central and Southern Italy, such as around Rome, hover around the mid-high 50s and even into the low 60s. Northern climes can be colder of course, but as Italy has a Mediterranean climate, still comfortable. Clear skies and bright sunshine are not uncommon in the winter. Unless you live in Florida, California or Arizona, you’ll probably find Italy much more comfortable than the weather at home.
2. Christmas Markets
Although Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are most famous for these charming markets, Italy is no slouch! Throughout December, many cities and towns will have festive markets full of delicious food, local handicrafts and holiday entertainment like carolers and ice skating. My personal favorite was the market in Florence, located in Piazza di Santa Croce. I really enjoyed learning about the unique local holiday customs and characters, like “Befana” the Italian Christmas Witch!
In the off season, you stand to save significant amounts of money. Accommodation costs are much lower, and this is of course reflected in the pricing of our Italian Guided Vacations. You can save up to 30% traveling in December vs September. You’ll also enjoy savings on your airfare, sometimes hundreds of dollars.
Italians are rightly known for their warmth and welcoming attitude to travelers. But during the busy summer season, even the friendliest locals can become tired of navigating the huge crowds of tourists inhabiting their cities. With the lower crowds and festive atmosphere of the wintertime, the hospitality of the Italian people becomes even more evident.
In my mind, the biggest and most important reason to travel to Italy in the off-season is lack of crowds. Italy is one of the most crowded counties to visit in all of Europe. Places like the famous Uffizi museum in Florence can have entrance lines up to 3 hours in the peak season; in December I walked right in. Local guides on my trip enjoyed pointing out nearly empty attractions that would normally be bursting at the seams, commenting what “shrewd travelers” we were by visiting in December!