Italy, the land of possibly the most incredible food in the world (PIZZA), the Vatican, Da Vinci and a whole lot more. December is a great time to visit Italy. There are fewer crowds so the pace is a little less hectic than it is during the peak tourist season. It will be cold, however, if you wrap up warm there’s nothing to worry about. Plus it can’t be any worse than Irish winter weather, right?! There are, of course, stunning Christmas markets to visit too. Just make sure you have travel insurance in case you have any slips on the snow or ice (don’t worry if you’re already on holiday because it isn’t too late to get insured). Last time I went to a Christmas market I ended up needing emergency dental treatment and it was a total nightmare. Why are dentists so expensive?! Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked! Do keep in mind that December will always be a more expensive time to stay/fly/visit pretty much anywhere in the world. That being said, here are some suggestions of where to visit in Italy in December.
Where to go in Italy in December?
Venice is a romantic city popular due to its unique canals and bridges. It has stunning architecture, and it is known for the music and art. It is a beautiful destination year round, but if you visit in December you’ll be able to get some stunning festive photos (and selfies) whilst avoiding the smell that emanates from the canals in summer. A few places to visit are the St Mark’s Basilica, a stunning cathedral with gilded domes, Piazza San Marco, a basilica square, and Teatro La Fenice, a grand opera house. If you’re into art make sure to check out the Guggenheim. When I was there a long time ago I visited a travelling Salvador Dali exhibition. We queued for hours but when we got inside I was in love. I could have stayed there for hours. Venice is expensive but it’s a bucket list location that is well worth ticking off. Make sure that you experience the thrill of a gondola ride on The Grand Canal and shop for some Venetian glass. Oh and the narrow streets of Venice can be almost labyrinth-like, so make sure to bring a map or have Google maps on. Read more about Venice here.
Campania’s capital, Naples, is the third largest municipality in Southern Italy. For years Naples had a bit of a dodgy reputation. My family visited years ago and they loved it. They had pizza with POTATOES on it which obviously made their year (Irish people love a potato). Foodies, listen up, the food in Naples is some of the best you’ll find in the country. From Naples you can visit Mount Vesuvius, the stunning and LEGENDARY volcano that caused the destruction of Pompeii more than 2000 years ago. Pompeii is almost like a time capsule so is perfect for history buffs. You can also catch the ferry to Capri where you’ll find ruins, hiking trails and plenty more to explore. A few other places worth visiting are Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Royal Palace of Naples, Castel Nuovo, and the Naples Underground geothermal zone. Villa Comunale is a seaside park with fountains, statues, and a play area for children if you’re travelling with family members. Read more about Naples here.
Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and is known for its architecture and art. If you ever studied art, history or art history then you’ll be more than familiar with Florence. Renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci have their masterpieces in this city. It is also a fashion hub with some of the most popular brands in the world such as Cavalli, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and Ferragamo having their flagship stores in the city. Via de’ Tornabuoni is the best place to visit to indulge in shopping. A few other places to visit are the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, Santa Croce, Giotto’s Campanile, Medici Chapel, Museo Galileo and Fountain of Neptune. Oh and how could I forget the Uffizi gallery! There you’ll find “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, and if you want to see the world famous statue of David then head to the Accademia Gallery. Read more about Florence here.
Rome is the place to witness the beauty of historical architecture. Take a stroll along the Tiber River and visit the lavish Villa Borghese gardens. Visit the Colosseum where gladiators once battled to entertain the crowds. Take in the stunning architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica, and visit the Apostolic Palace to see renaissance culture and paintings from Michelangelo displayed inside the church’s Sistine Chapel. Do not forget to make a wish at The Trevi Fountain, get lost in the Vatican Museums, explore the Roman Forum, and have dinner on the square facing the Pantheon. Take a stroll down the Spanish Steps (does anyone remember the fashion show on those stairs from America’s Next Top Model?!) or relive some of the famous scenes from “Roman Holiday”, by putting your hand in the Bocca della Verità/ Mouth of Truth. Read more about Rome here.
The Amalfi Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site with breathtaking scenery. The stretch from Vietri sul Mare, in the east, to Positano is around 40km in length and is a fabulous drive. Head to Grotta dello Smeraldo for a boat ride through the caves named after the emerald-coloured water found within. Lattari Mountains Regional Park, Path of Gods, Riserva Statale Valle delle Ferriere are just some of the other stunning sights that you can see in this region. Taste the limoncello liqueur which is made from local lemons and dine on freshly caught sea food while relaxing in the sun on any one of the fabulous beaches along the coast. You can read more about the Amalfi Coast here.
As you can see, there’s plenty of wonderful spots for you to visit in Italy in December. I’ve just given you a VERY brief overview of only a few of your potential options. Have a read, delve into the reviews and let me know where you finally decide upon!