Hey there people everywhere! When I’m not talking about daily life in Italy and my adventure running my Italian business I’m talking about travel. You know it!
When you live in Italy all year round apart from the touristy season of August you get to see a different side of Italy that is not full of gelato, the heat, and visiting the grottos in Capri.
Today I’m going to talk about Off Season Secrets of Italy– What to do from November to April. So what do I do here all year long? Let me break this down by month real quick and then we’ll dive into it:
November: Wine Season, San Martino wine day- opening the first bottle of wine from the harvest
December: Presepe live nativity scenes, Christmas Markets, chocolate festival in Piemonte
January: skiing in the Swiss Alps
masquerade in Venice
March: Eating Zeppole in Naples for Father’s Day
April: Easter procession, Pasquetta picnics
The main theme in the winter months is to get social! Whether you bring wine over to celebrate San Martino, take a passeggiata to see the Presepe live nativity scenes or stand and watch the famous Easter parades around the country-everything is about being together.
So what’s my favorite?
My absolute favorite thing about traveling around Italy in the low season is Carnevale in Venice! Carnevale (Mardi Gras) takes place between February and March and is an event not to be missed! There is so much to do and see during Carnevale. You can simply walk around and gaze at all the costumes, dress yourself up by renting costumes in local shops, or go to evening masquerade parties dressed to the 9s of course! If you’re into gazing you can buy watercolors, sit on some steps in Venice, and paint the people walking by. Sit outside at a café and enjoy the characters! Ride on a gondola and let history take you back to Casanova’s time. There is no place like Venice, and no place like Venice during Carnevale!
Let’s back up though, pre-Carnevale and pre-Christmas…..so what goes down in Italybefore February? Unfortunately the weather in November is usually windy and rainy so there’s not a lot going on outside, but on the inside they’re all drinking wine (The first wine of the harvest that is). It’s tradition to open the first bottle of wine produced from their own grapes, local vineyards, or brand favorites and try it out on the 11th of November-San Martino. Friends and family gather around the table during supper and try out the wine.
December is full of activity as I’m sure you can imagine. Christmas markets, Christmas sales, stores open late at night, Presepe events and displays (old parts of the city decorated to look like Nazareth), Panettone (Italian fruit cake) and lights everywhere, it’s glorious! The wine obsession continues all throughout December. During Christmas families will drink several types of wine, champagne, and prossecco. They often bring wine as gifts to friends, and will drink wine at every occasion possible. You would think no other alcohol exists in this country!
Christmas doesn’t die down until the 6th of January. The 6th of January is Epifana day where children are given stockings. In January the stores and streets will be filled with stockings to buy. Families typically take down their Christmas trees on the 6th.
January is the month for the slopes! The Swiss alps run through the North of Italy and lots of people vacation there before seriously dedicating themselves to work again all year.
After Carnevale passes it’s time to celebrate Women’s day on the 8th of March and Fathers day on the 19th of March! Head over to Naples where they make the best Zeppole in honor of San Giuseppe. Zeppole are cream filled pastries that are deep fried and coated with sugar. Naples is famous for fried food in Italy, as well as really good street food and pastries.
If you don’t get your fill in March then April has even more sweets! For Easter the stores are filled with giant chocolate eggs for children. There are many brands of eggs. My favorite is Kinder which has a surprise on the inside of the egg! (pssst did you know that Kinder Eggs are banned in America? Just thought I’d give you another reason to visit Italy!) You can check out an article about that here.
On Good Friday every town has an Easter Parade in the evening where they display a man dressed up as Jesus carrying a cross, Mother Mary dressed in black walking behind him, and other volunteers of the church dressed up in Roman costume. The streets are lit with candles. People watch silently as the walkers pass by. It’s quite a sad and humbling procession to watch in silence. In fact, after the first time I decided to never go again.
Well that’s a wrap! I encourage you to come to Italy during the winter months and discover a more relaxing side of la bella vita! Make sure to check out GoEuro.com where you can find bits of this article written, and other great insider traveling advice from bloggers just like me who live here!
Have you seen my other post at GoEuro on my top things to do in Venice? Take a look!