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SShprints Jul 7th, 2014 11:15 AM

Italy over the winter holidays
Hello, we are an early 30's couple arriving into Milan on Dec 26 and departing Rome on Jan. 4. I am going back and forth on itineraries and not sure what is best. At first, we were planning to rent car and drive towards Torino and then to the French Alps (Chamonix)..for 3-4 days before spending 5-6 in Rome. Now I am thinking that we are better off heading to Florence/Siena instead of the Alps before we head down to Rome. What about San Marino, Bologna or Verona? Anyone have any suggestions on an itinerary that would work over the winter holidays?

We like cities, museums, great food, wineries, etc..

ribeirasacra Jul 7th, 2014 11:50 AM

Read this about winter tyres and snow chain requirements.
Ensure you have them for this trip.

sandralist Jul 7th, 2014 11:51 AM

You'll have plenty of company heading up to Chamonix for Christmas holidays, but I personally would rather plan to go by train than drive, especially if you are thinking of renting at the airport when jet lagged. You might consider spending your first nights in Torino (easy to get to by train from Milan), and then either proceeding by train to Aosta for a night or two and renting the car there, or renting a car in Torino if the weather forecast is generally clear. The roads are kept ploughed and dry in that part of Italy during winter, but last Christmas the area got a TON of snow right at Christmas time, so hinging a trip on car travel in winter is dicey in most of Italy.

You would probably need to return to Torino or Milan to get a flight to Rome, but I could be wrong. Perhaps there are other options near Chamonix.

As for your other choices, expect them to packed during the holidays, and not necessarily with better weather. The idea of driving around San Marino at that time of year is not a great idea. Ditto Bologna and areas around Verona, where fog can present just as much of a hazard (even worse) than ice and snow. Trains between Verona and Bologna are the way to go.

If you like cities, museums, great food and wineries, I would focus on Piemonte in December. I would skip Rome, which can be expensive and jam-packed. Verona and Torino might make a brilliant combination, especially if you venture into the Piemonte wine country for some of your stay. This will be truffles season, and you could have a lovely time there. If you get clear days, you can even slip off to the val d'Aosta for a day or two. Apart from booking your first and last nights, you really don't need to make reservations for that kind of trip -- but you will if you elect to go to Florence, Siena and Rome over school holidays.

SShprints Jul 12th, 2014 10:36 AM

I spent last Christmas holidays in Paris. It was packed but we managed to have a great I am not worried about the crowd in Rome..its not my first time so if we don't "SEE" everything, thats fine with me..I also haven't been to Rome in a bunch of years so this city is a must. The first 4-5 days are up in the air.

sandralist Jul 12th, 2014 11:54 AM

So go to Rome. It is a great destination and you will know what to expect.

For the first 4 or 5 days, I highly recommend sticking to train travel, because even if it snows, it is unlikely to paralyze the train system, while roads might be too dangerous to drive.

You said in your first post: "We like cities, museums, great food, wineries, etc."

If you didn't mind the crowds of Paris, you might as well go to Florence. You can easily take a day trip to Bologna from there, and hire a driver to take you to wineries once you are sure the weather is nice that day. Plus you can go to Siena. Florence itself is an extraordinary city that sparkles in winter. Even if the weather is dreadful, there are fabulous indoor sights. Many of the famous cafes heat their outside terraces so you can even drink hot chocolate or wine al fresco.

But ditch the car. Enjoy Italy's super comfy modern new train system.

jamikins Jul 12th, 2014 12:03 PM

We had a great week in Rome over NYE in 2011-2012.

You can read our trip report here

And pics here

And we spent NYE thus past year in Tuscany and loved it!

Report here

And our pics are here

We were very lucky with the weather both times.

We loved how uncrowded Tuscany was compared to the summer. We loved it so much we are taking my family back to Montepulciano for NYE 2015 - 2016. Rome was crowded but we still enjoyed it.

Enjoy your holiday no matter what you choose!

cicchettigirl Jul 12th, 2014 12:13 PM

I love Bologna, but I adore it during the holidays. The streets are festooned with the most sumptuous decorations and the cuisine really lends itself to cold-weather dining. It is not crowded with tourists, but with Italians enjoying a beautiful passeggiata and enjoying the lights.

SShprints Jul 12th, 2014 12:47 PM

so we arrive on Dec. 26 in the AM..should we head straight to the city center and take the train to either Bologna or Florence? or do we hang in Milan for the day and take the train the next morning?

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