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Best places to visit in Italy in February

Best places to visit in Italy in February

Whilst Italy isn’t perhaps a holiday destination that immediately springs to mind for February travellers, there are actually plenty of great places to visit in Italy in February. And, with Valentine’s Day on 14 February, there is arguably a no more romantic country to visit than the country that is almost synonymous with love – Italy. With the exception of February half term, it’s not a time when most families with school-age children are able to travel either so you’ll certainly find the country to be free of crowds in February. In fact, February sees on average just one quarter of the number of visitors you would see in either July or August each year. As it’s low season, you will also find air fares, accommodation and car rental rates much cheaper in February than across the Summer months (with the exception of Alpine areas where prices will be inflated due to the ski season). And, if you’re hoping to enjoy a spot of shopping during your stay, then you’ll even make the end of the Winter sales (saldi). OK – so it’s not the warmest of months but, wrap up warmly, and you’ll find that February can be a surprisingly enjoyable time to visit Italy.

So, here’s our guide to the best places to visit in Italy in February.

Skiing in the Italian Alps and Dolomites

Italy is blessed with hundreds of ski resorts and thousands of kilometres of slopes and these are usually most blessed with snow in February. Opt to head to the ski resorts of the Dolomites – Cortina, Alta Badia, Kronplatz and Val Gardena – all areas where you can ski surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Also in the Dolomites is the Dolomiti Superski carousel, the world’s biggest network of ski slopes and lifts. Here, a single ski pass will give you access to 12 ski resorts, over 1200 kilometres of ski slopes and around 450 ski lifts. There is also a great après-ski scene too. Plenty of food and drink can be enjoyed on large sunny terraces and in charming rustic chalets.

Alternatively, you could head to the Italian Alps, home to the Matterhorn and Monte Bianco. Some of the most famous ski resorts here include Sestriere, Madonna di Campiglio and Breuil-Cervinia. The ski scene in the Italian Alps is not as developed as in the Italian Dolomites and, compared to skiing in the French Alps, it probably feels like you’ve stepped back in time 10-20 years. But we think that this is all in its favour.

Incidentally, if you want to enjoy the opportunity to ski or snowboard ‘off the beaten track’, then Italy has a third mountain range – the Apennines – running down the spine of the country. Ski resorts and leisure facilities are much fewer here but there are still ski resorts to be found in Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.

Tuscany

February is Carnevale season – a chance to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ – and one of Italy’s most famous carnivals is the one in Viareggio in Tuscany. Here, visitors are treated to a bright and colourful parade of floats, featuring larger than life caricatures of politicians, actors, sportsmen and women. The Viareggio carnival was first held in 1873, organised by the wealthy middle class. The story goes that they wanted to organise a parade of floats adorned with fresh flowers however a number of local citizens protested and adorned masks in order to show their disgust for the high taxes that they were being forced to pay.

Not only that, but Tuscany is home to some of Italy’s most famous cities – Florence, Pisa and Siena to name just a few. Each of these cities is filled with a plethora of incredible museums and attractions – the Uffizi in Florence, the Duomo in Siena and the Leaning Tower in Pisa for example – all of which are ideal indoor sites to explore if the weather is inclement as it can be in February. You won’t need to queue for these attractions either as you would have to in the peak Summer months.

That said, just be aware that some of Tuscany’s smaller towns and villages may be closed up for the Winter. There just simply aren’t enough visitors to warrant them opening again just yet.

Sicily

Temperatures tend to hover around 13 degrees centigrade in Sicily in February. The island also tends to enjoy more sunshine than elsewhere in Italy making it a great holiday destination to choose for a February holiday in Italy.

Not only that but Sicily plays host to a couple of fantastic festivals in February. These include The Feast of Saint Agatha in Catania on 4 and 5 February. This festival honours the city’s Patron Saint, Agata. Agata lived in the 3rd century and was a teenage girl that was kidnapped and tortured when she rejected the advances of a distinguished Roman. Every February, Catania’s buildings are decorated, the streets filled with stalls and visitors flock to see the parade and the silver carriage containing Agata’s relics that makes its way through the city and up Monte Sangiuliano. The festival then culminates in a spectacular fireworks display.

Another event of note in Sicily in February is the Sagra del Mandorlo, the Almond Blossom Festival. This has been held in Agrigento from the first Sunday through to the second Sunday of February since 1934. It coincides with the period when the almond blossom is in full bloom and symbolises the start of Spring. The festival kicks off at the Valley of the Temples when the torch of friendship is lit in front of the Temple of the Concordia (a signal to send a message of peace across the world) and culminates in a procession of carts from the heart of Catania back to the Valley of the Temples. This procession is accompanied by lots of music. As you would expect, everything about the almond is celebrated during the festival too. Make sure you take the opportunity to sample the traditional Sicilian sweets made with almonds and make a note to admire the beautiful balcony festooned with almond blossom on the Via Atenea.

And Sicily also hosts a number of carnivals in February. The biggest and most famous of these is in Acireale where celebrations last a number of weeks through February and into March. Here, allegorical wagons decorated with flowers and laden with larger-than-life papier-mâché figures and masks are paraded through the streets.

Incidentally, for keen skiers (and snow levels dependent), visitors may even have the opportunity to ski down the slopes of Mount Etna in February.

City break in Italy

There are plenty of reasons to visit most of Italy’s major cities in February. We’ve already mentioned a number of reasons to visit Tuscany’s major cities. But Venice in the Veneto region is also well worth visiting in February. Like Viareggio, it’s home to a carnival that is steeped in history.

Venice’s carnival dates back to 1162 when Venetians took to the streets to celebrate the victory of the Republic of Venice over Aquileia. Every year since, Venetians have marked the victory but it has only been since 1979 that the Venice Carnival has started to resemble how it looks today. This was the year when the Italian government decided to use this historic event to rejuvenate Venice’s heritage. Ever since, the event has grown and grown and nowadays it’s one of the biggest celebrations anywhere in the world. Head to Venice in February and expect to see plenty of people dressed head to toe in 18th century costumes along with a number of organised parades and parties.

In Milan this month, there is Milan Fashion Week when the next season’s Autumn and Winter collections are presented. At this time, the top designer brands will put on cat-walk shows in some of the most beautiful spots throughout the city. Admittedly, access to these is only open to a select few industry representatives, but many of them are live-streamed and available to view on a big screen in one of Milan’s main squares. And even if you can’t enjoy the events in person, Milan has a real buzz to it during the Fashion Week.

And finally, in Rome, where there may not be specific events in February, just as in Tuscany’s major cities, you will find its the perfect time to discover its many indoor attractions such as St Peter’s and the Vatican Museums, without having to endure the queues.

Find your perfect place to stay in Italy at Bookings For You.

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