The first time I came to Italy was in the winter.
It was Christmas time, and I am still amazed at how lucky I was.
No lines to see inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, getting to try pasta with squid ink for the first time on Christmas Eve, and watching witches flying across the main piazza in Assisi, an Italian Christmas tradition.
Does having an Italian holiday in winter seem like a crazy idea?
It really shouldn’t.
With so few tourists at the Colosseum, lots of tasty treats found only in the winter months and
1. You can Celebrate Christmas and Carnevale in Italy
Christmas and Carnevale!
The Christmas holiday season isn’t cheaper, but it is fun. Christmas trees go up on December 8th and get taken down on January 6th.
Nativity scenes, or
And then after Christmas, in February comes Carnevale.
Carnival is celebrated the week before Lent begins.
Venice is most famous for
Looking for a politically themed parade for Carnevale? Try this town on the Tuscan coast, Viareggio. And you don’t even have to be here for Lent. They hold the parade each Sunday 3 weeks before and 2 after. Making the celebrations last for 6 weeks.
Interested in learning more about different Carnevale options? Check out this post by tripsavvy.
2. Foods in Italy You Can Only Try In Winter
What can you only find in winter?
And if you aren’t ready to pay for the white truffles, I prefer the varieties of black winter truffles over summer black truffles.
Umbria is the province that has the most black truffles in all of Italy.
Citrus fruit is in season.
Look for oranges, mandarins, clementines, and lemons at markets. Other fruit you might not be expecting are pomegranates which is a melograno in Italian and persimmons, cachi in Italian (pronounced kaki).
3. Escape The Crowds Of The High Seasons
Enjoy the Colosseum without the lineups.
Admire a Botticelli painting for as long as you want to spend in front of it.
And no need to worry about sunstroke.
Museums and galleries will be much quieter- but find out their winter hours as they won’t be open as frequently.
The cathedral in Assisi, for example, closes at sunset during the winter.
4. Escape to the Italian Outdoors
If you like skiing, Italy is a must in winter, the alps are great for downhill skiing. If cross-country is more to your taste, there are slopes all over central Italy, even just an hour outside of Rome.
Over the Christmas holidays you can usually find ice rinks in the center of towns. Not interested in snow?
Try hiking, Umbria and all of Italy is full of trails.
There are also organized excursions to find porcini mushrooms, truffles, and chestnuts.
Then relax in some hot springs. In Umbria there aren’t to many hot springs but I do enjoy Nun spa as a treat. During the week is much cheaper.
Tuscany however is full of great free hot springs. I love Saturnia, San Casciano dei Bagni, Bagni San Filippo and Bagno Vignoni is a beautiful spa town.
5. Italy: full of Art and Music to Discover in Winter
Italy is famous for its art and music.
One way to appreciate Italy’s long and prolific musical history is to go to a concert.
Whether an opera production or an orchestra, you will get to see Italians dressed up in their finery.
In Rome, many classical concerts are held at Praco della Musica and can be reached by tram or bus in the north of Rome.
The Teatro dell’Opera is in the center of historic Rome, with in walking distance of the Roman Forum.
Here in Perugia a great way to see the inside of a historic building is to go to a concert. Check out this website for lists of all the classical concerts for the season.
Art galleries hold most of their exhibits in the winter months, a great rainy day activity.
A Visit To Italy In Winter
Coming to Italy in winter may not at first seem like the preferred option. But as you can see there are some things that can only be enjoyed at that time.
Just remember to bring your slippers, as tile floors can get very cold!
Thinking about spending a few days in Perugia this winter? Here’s a list of my favourite museums to visit if you need to escape the cold.