While the winter might not have the best weather for traveling in Italy, you may discover that the winter is one of the richest times of the year to travel in this Mediterranean county. While most of the crowds show up in the late summer months, the winter brings you closer to ancient Christmas traditions as well as some of the most stunning views in the world.
Surprisingly, many vineyards are open for tourists in the winter months, and even in this period of dormancy, there is still plenty to do. Learn about the cycle of the grapes needed to create wines and see the process of wine making once the grapes are off the vine. Then don your coats and tromp out into the snow to see the truly wondrous sites of Italy in the winter – hill upon hill of grape vines frosted and covered in snow. An amazing photo opportunity and a chance to simply absorb the cold weather and beauty that surrounds you.
The Italian Alps
Much farther north, the Italian Alps offer breathtaking views along with prime winter sports and activities. Your vacation might center only on the mountain retreats found in these ski towns and resorts and you’ll experience an entirely new side of Italy most tourists are unaware of. In the far northern reaches of Italy, the culture is vastly different than the main cities. The food is different and the proximity to Austria makes this region more dynamic that the major cities a bit further to the south.
Christmas in Italy is celebrated through January 6, or Epiphany. This timing is great for those planning to have Christmas Day at home and then venture out for a vacation. In Italy, there are some displays of Father Christmas and the like, but the most impressive displays found throughout the country in the piazzas and window shops are the presepi. These nativity scenes are a tradition in the country and are still the focal point of the holiday season. Nativity displays originated in Italy and over the past centuries, the Italians have embraced and expanded on the tradition. Impressive displays appear in homes, stores, common areas and often most impressively, churches or cathedrals. Naples is the best city to visit to see the presepi. Hundreds of displays are set up throughout the city.