Saturday, October 3, 2009

Off-season travel to Italy

Summer is over, or haven't you noticed? At least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere.
What are some good destinations for Fall/Winter travel to Italy? Here are a few ideas.

There was a man for all seasons, and there is a city for all seasons. That would be Venice. I love it all the time. Be aware that in autumn/winter it can be quite gloomy/humid/rainy/foggy. And the days will be shorter. But since there is so much to see indoors and the distances are short, you can hop around from museums to churches to restaurants to shops. Be advised that "low season" is relative for Venice- there are always tourists. Just not sweaty hordes. What about the acqua alta? The pesky potential for preposterous precipitation is always present this time of year, but you would be surprised how little this stops the Venetians. You would do well to get accomodations not near St. Mark's, which will also suit your budget better.

Starting right now, Alto-Adige/Suedtirol is wonderful. October in particular is fine, with good weather and interesting foliage (but not as interesting as New England). Merano, one of my favorite places, is a spa town with lovely porticoes, including those along the river. There are all sorts of winter sports in the region; very many hotels, big and small, have indoor pools. And good, plentiful food. And wine.

Sicily. I actually lived in Naples four years as a child, and I can tell you that from Rome to most of Southern Italy, the weather is not so good from November on. It is not balmy. Sicily, being southernmost, is a good option, especially since there is so much to see that it would warrant its own vacation. But again, don't think that it will be ideal weather in winter, even that far south.

Finally, microclimates. There are oodles of these all over the peninsula, where particular features of terrain and climate create a small environment relatively protected from the surrounding nastiness. One example: Arqua' Petrarca (in the photo) in the Euganean Hills near Padua, which despite being so far north produces its own olive oil and enjoys a sunnier, drier climate.