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italy in late november/early december

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i read that late november / early december is not a good time to vacation in italy. is this true? i'd like to hear about the experiences of fodorites. thanks!

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    We were in Florence and Rome a year and a half ago--2010, during the first 2 weeks of December. We walked right into the Vatican and Uffizi w/o reservations--no problem. The weather was a mix but we enjoyed the Tuscan countryside as well and were surprised by the fall colors and green rolling hills with emerging winter wheat. The cuisine of Tuscany seemed a perfect complement to the weather and ambiance--lots of truffles, mushrooms and "fresh" olive oil.

    Its true the cities are likely places to visit and the closer it got to Christmas, the better the towns were decked out with simple decorations. It was all quite charming and a nice change from the usual tourist seasons.

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    We were in Rome in mid-November 2009 for 8 days. There was some rain and it was cool (we are from the midwest so are used to that) but the reduction in crowds was wonderful. We didn't realize how wonderful until we went back in May of 2011 and everywhere was mobbed. I would say your tolerance of cooler and perhaps slightly rainier weather would be a deciding factor.

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    Agree with macanimals and illnative - we enjoy both cities or towns and countryside in Italy in Winter, the scenary is just as breath-taking - we have been 3 times in December, and it was such a relief not to be amongst the heavy crowds of the tourist season, which in my opinion makes up for the warmer and (maybe) nicer weather of the Summer.

    On any rainy days, avoid visiting towns and villages on high hilltops that are accessible by narrow winding roads.

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    It depends on what you are expecting and where in Italy you want to go. Obviously you want to avoid seaside resorts - which will be mostly closed. If you are focused on cities it should be fine and there will be fewer crowds and probably hotel discounts available. But, it is chilly, you will get rain, days are short and some sights are open shorter hours (9 am to 1 or 2 pm rather than all day) - so you will have to do more checking on getting to places on time.

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    Cities and the lovely countryside (not booking accomodation in very high hilltop towns and villages or agriturismos out of the beaten track, would be lovely and you would be more on the safe side and ensure that it would be an easy holiday, if you are the wary type. You will encounter more Italian holidaymakers in Agriturismos, B&Bs, and hotels, as many like to take short breaks in Winter.

    But we still were brave enought to drive in December during various holidays to the Dolomites, the Abruzzo mountains, on the Monte Amiata and Monte Miniata mountains in Tuscany (would not really recommend the last two as it would be quite a difficult drive if it would be snowing as winding roads up the mountains are very narrow and steep). Roccaraso in the Abruzzo mountains was an extremely easy drive. I guess we were lucky we always found relatively good weather in these mountaineous areas, but in the case of the two mountains I mentioned of Tuscany it might be risky - the agriturismo owners on the Monte Miniata had told us that a month earlier the narrow winding road was blocked due to snow, and the wife was grounded and could even go to work for a few days. On my list now is Abetone on the Appenine mountains in Tuscany - the mountain ranges are large in this region, so hopefully it will be an easy drive.

    Regarding weather, nobody can guarantee rainfall any time of year. There are heavy rainfalls even in Summer - I think we were so lucky when we travelled several times to Italy in Christmastime and did not experience bad weather - it was so sunny in Tuscany in 2010 - a bit chilly of course, but with a good warm jacket with hood, hat, gloves and good shoes or boots or sneakers you would be fine for sure. I often don't even always wear all of these during the day. One thing I like to wear that keeps me warm when I am walking around in a town, city etc in the evenings is a pair of leggings underneath my trousers, that really does keep my legs warm, especially if I would be wearing jeans. Regarding my daughter, who is physically disabled and has mobility problems and would be in her special needs pushchair when we are walking around late evening in a city in northern or central Tuscany - southern Tuscany is much warmer, like the Amalfi coast - during the day a light jacket was even enough, lucky us for the weather. In colder regions and colder days in Italy I put on my daughter a pair tights, leggings, socks and trousers, plus a couple of tops and a warm insulating jacket so that I make sure that she does not get cold when wandering around towns etc in the evenings.

    nytraveler is right in saying that seaside resorts will be empty. We visited Rimini for a few days in December (besides the region of Trento and Umbria) - and many hotels and restaurants were closed. But we stayed in a brand new four star superior hotel called Terminal Palace & Spa hotel in Rimini, for which we got an extremely good rate since it was low season (I emailed and booked online personally, not through a booking engine) - there were only literally a few Italian tourists in the hotel, and it was so lovely to wake up to the lovely seafront view in the morning from our rooms, and to take a walk on the beach, quiet at this time of year, and really peaceful and quiet in the hotel - lovely huge breakfast buffet for only a few tables. I think I would never visit this coastal area in Summer - unless in the unlikely event (definitely it would have to be in September) that I would just want to laze around on the beach, it would be so crowdy with locals and foreign tourists in peak season. We visited several places in the area like the Aquarium in Cattolica, the huge Christmas nativity on the beachfront in Torre Pedrera moulded out of sand, the Italy in Miniature open air park, etc and had excellent lunches in restaurants in the area - I researched before our holiday and emailed them and asked them if they would open for lunch, several did. We had dinners in the hotel as we booked on half board basis. I regret that we did not visit the mosaics in Ravenna and city of Bologna - maybe in another visit to that region.

    The more you travel to a particular country or region, the more you get familiar with driving around, their way of life, visiting places etc.

    If you lose heart you will miss out on lovely places or events, for example like the ones that are held in Italy over the Christmas period. It is nice to be a bit adventurous on a holiday, but I guess each to his own.

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