The leaves are falling, the crowds have gone: there is no better time of year to enjoy the cultural riches of the Italy’s “art cities”!
Although Italy is rightly considered as one of the top summer destinations in the world, winter is also a superb time of year to explore the Bel Paese. Italy sees far fewer tourists during winter, meaning less crowds to navigate through at popular attractions, museums and galleries, and shorter or even non-existent lines!
Furthermore, the opera, symphony and theatre seasons are in full swing for you to enjoy a marvellous experience in some of the most important opera houses in the world such as Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples or the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.
For winter sports enthusiasts, Italy’s Alps offer some of the best skiing in Europe. The Dolomites and the Apennines form Italy’s mountainous backbone, running from North to South. Skiing and riding in Italy is generally less expensive than in the neighbouring resorts in France, Switzerland, and Austria. Italian resorts are also known for their family-friendly atmosphere, sunshine, delicious food and less crowded slopes…
Nativity Scenes in Naples
You might find it hard to believe but the bustling city of Naples gets even more vibrant during the Christmas period! With every new start to the Christmas season, the shopping race takes off, and the streets are filled with markets, festive colours and lights. Of all the markets, the one you should not miss is the one in Via San Gregorio Armeno, with its endless shops dedicated to the Christmas Nativity tradition famous all over the world.
San Gregorio Armeno represents an important tradition for families in Naples, as the visit to this charming street is considered as an obligatory stop before building their own Presepe – the nativity scene – at home. No wonder that during Christmas time, more than half a million tourists come to see the shops with the original miniature figurines and the shops in this street are especially busy.
Here visitors will see top artisans creating, exhibiting and selling the miniature figures that make up the Nativity scene – masterpieces realized through the skills passed down from generation to generation. But the predominant aspect of the Neapolitan Nativity is its perfect fusion between the sacred and the profane – after all, it not only involves the statues of the Holy Family, the Magi, and the shepherds in every dimension, shape, and price range, but also very common are the parodies of politicians and VIPs from both past and present, embodying the Neapolitans’ typical humour and creativity.
To make your winter-break at the footsteps of Mount Vesuvius truly memorable, why not take part in one of our mouth-watering Pizza-making classes held all year long in the beautiful town of Sorrento, where you will learn how to create (and taste of course!) the authentic Neapolitan pizza!
The Botticelli re-opening at the Uffizi in Florence
As if you need a valid reason to visit the beautiful Florence, it is a perfect moment to be in town since the new Botticelli rooms at the Uffizi Gallery have only recently been re-opened to the public after a 15-month period of refurbishment.
The Botticelli rooms and the other two rooms dedicated to the Early Renaissance paintings re-opened as part of the New Uffizi project masterminded by the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Firenze which is undertaking the complete renovation of the oldest and most famous art museum in the Western world!
The rooms, which form part of an area that once housed the Medici theatre designed by Bernardo Buontalenti, host masterpieces by Pollaiolo, Hugo van der Goes and Domenico Ghirlandaio, together with a considerable corpus of paintings by Botticelli, including his celebrated ‘Spring’ and ‘The Birth of Venus’.
Whether you are planning to vacation in Italy during the summer or winter, consider renting a private villa in the countryside to use as a base for your day trips . To vacation in an Italian villa rental is to experience a lifestyle that embodies both the heart and soul of southern Europe. Italian villas embrace you: beamed ceilings, plastered stone walls, pergolas with wisteria spilling over, narrow alleyways, fanciful tiling, pools with views to vineyards and olive groves and lonely, freestanding cypress trees. An Italian villa rental in Tuscany or Umbria brings out the passionate pulse of an ancient and refined Mediterranean lifestyle.
Interested in more Italian adventures? Travel to the coast of Capri and read about the variety of restaurants offered with a water front view: The Complete Guide to Capri Part I