Visiting Italy in December/January

Old Jul 12th, 2006, 09:49 PM
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Visiting Italy in December/January

My wife and I are considering traveling to Italy in late December 2006 (after christmas) through early January 2007 (10-12 days total). We both have a great deal of interest in history and the arts and would like to visit as many sites/museums as possible. The reason we are considering this time is due to the fact that we both don't like the hot summer weather/crowds that seem to be common in July & August. We would be visiting for the first time and would appreciate any feedback (pros and cons) regarding visiting Italy during the winter.
jdjtraveler is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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Well - it's winter and can get quite cold with a lot of rain and even snow. So it's likely that trekking around outside may not be too pleasant.

If you don;t want the heat and crowds of July/August - why not go in April or May? Then it's warm enoughh to be pleasant to do outdoor things - but not really hot, less crowded - and the flowers are in bloom and the days are much longer than in winter.
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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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We travelled to Venice right after Christmas and stayed there 3 nights No smelly water as it was winter time. No queues either. We took the train to Florence and then on to Rome for New Year. On January 2nd we took the train to Naples. We had a splendid time and the weather in all the places we visited was fine. Not too cold.i have some lovely photos with lots of blue sky.
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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 03:48 PM
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We were in Rome and Florence this past February and I would definitely go at that time of year again. The weather was upper 60's/50's in Rome and lower 60's/50's in Florence. Some rain, but no time or experience lost due to it.
Just pack layers of clothing and an umbrella or hooded rain jacket.

The piazzas are much quieter - fewer beggers and street venders. Usually can get seating for dinner even without a reservation. Really no crowds to speak of, although we still made the reservations we could for David and the Uffizi in Florence, etc.

Really the only con I can think of is that the evenings are pretty quiet - at least that was my experience. If you like a lot of nighttime activity, it may disappoint you.

But the warmth of the wine and really good soup was so enjoyable after a long day of sight-seeing! I highly recommend winter travel - especially to Italy!

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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 04:29 PM
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We were in Rome, Florence and Venice at the end of January. Yes, it was quite cold, but that didn't spoil a wonderful time.

--Silk underwear (middle-weight from, under layers
--Good gloves (heavy ski type...great deals at the Florence leather market!)

It was extremely cold in many of the museums/pallazos we toured---our feet were like stone by the time we left. We wished we'd brought better socks.

Very few shops/restaurants were "on holiday" and they were VERY pleased to see Americans.

I wrote a trip report with a lot of references to weather.

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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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I would definitely go to Florence at that time of year and have considered doing so. Our one trip there was in March (Spring Break), and the weather was not ideal, but it was okay. Crowds were nothing like in the summer and lighter than in later spring, so we undersood. In light of your interests, I would probably combine Florence with Rome. In both places there is a lot to do indoors if you are interested in art and history.
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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 04:52 PM
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4 of 6 times I've been to Italy has been in either Jan. or Feb. i like it, no lines, great rates on beautiful hotels and in Jan. SALES< SALES< SALES.
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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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Winter is one of my favorite times to visit the great museums of Italy. It can be damp and chilly, and you can even get snow in some Tuscan hills, but the payoff is relatively thinner crowds and in some of the less well-known museums, some genuine peace and quiet.

One word of warning: The week directly after Xmas is a full holiday week for Italians, and it is the custom in Italy to travel to see one's family or to take the kids for a mid-winter break. Trains and hotels can book up early, so make your reservations.

Italians also live to go to Siena, Firenze, and Venezia (and take their kids there) to sightsee. So make reservations for museums as well.

TAKE WARM SHOES AND SOCKS. Marble floors in churches and palazzos are REALLY cold -- colder than the outside air temp. Pack as you would for winter in Washington DC. Rome and Napoli are bit warmer than Firenze and Siena. Venezia's climate is moderated by the lagoon, and can be rather mild, but it also sometimes snows there!

Italian hot chocolate, especially in Milano and Torino, is one of the great glories of an Italian winter. It's good in Firenze too.

In Venezia, Dec. 26 (San Stefano's day) is a serious holiday. Just about the only restaurants that will be open will be in hotels.

If Napoli is on your agenda, it's worth going soon after Christmas to catch the very best of the Neopolitan Christmas decorations before they disappear.

I so vividly recall being able to walk into the bapistery in Firenze repeatedly, with no line at all, whenever I passed by it. I was able to see the Capella Brancacci and the Fra Angelico's rooms in Museo San Marco with almost no one else there. I sat in Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venezia was empty save for my spouse and I, and so were two of the scuolas. I walked into Florian's and took a seat by the window on a rainy morning in Piazza San Marco, and afterwards I took the elevator up to the top of the Campanille without waiting in line.

And so on and so forth.

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Old Jul 13th, 2006, 07:25 PM
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Yes, thanks for reminding me that the best investment I made for our February trip was several pairs of cashmere socks. My feet were never cold.

I also took silk longjohns and wore them on the colder days, but did not need them everyday.
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