Don't think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, at any time of year. Off-season Italian holidays have several advantages: You won't fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find. Whatever time of year you go, every region has its own special festivals. Plan your Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
Turin, see the Christmas market and the Christmas lights.
So you are thinking of visiting northern Italy in December, but youíre not sure what to see and what to do. Donít despair; there are lots and lots of special events that simply arenít available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; December is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in the northwest and work our way east. There are so many things to see and do in northern Italy in December that this is the first of three articles.
The Livigno Resort, Lombardy.
We start our December Italian tour in the bilingual Aosta Valley tucked in the mountains between France and Switzerland. In the regional capital Aosta December means the week-long International Hot Air Balloon Encounter that culminates in the ascent of Mont Blanc. Youíll find Living Nativity Scenes almost everywhere in the region. On December 30 in the alpine resort of Breuil-Cervinia at the base of the Matterhorn you can enjoy a torch lit procession on skis followed by a fireworks display. Then itís south to Piedmont.
Turin, Piedmontís capital and largest city, is a great place to enjoy Christmas lights; the season runs from late November through early January and covers about 12 miles (20 kilometers). During December enjoy its Mercatino di Natale (Christmas Market) in the Borgo Dora neighborhood. Itís open all week and on the weekend hosts music and entertainment for children. Everyone will enjoy the Christmas tree and nativity scene. This is not the place to discuss Piedmont options for skiing. But should you choose Alagna Valsesia which is internationally known for off-piste skiing make sure to be there on Christmas Eve for its Ice Nativity scene. Make sure to check out the fine Piedmont wines including Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera.
Milan, the capital and largest city in Lombardy, celebrates the Festa di Sant'Ambrogio (Festival of Saint Ambrose) on December 7. the opening of the Opera season at the world famous La Scala. Make sure to visit the Oh bej! Oh bej! (oh how beautiful) street fair around the Basillica di Sant'Ambroglo. Unlike the opening of La Scala, you wonít need unattainable tickets for the fair. The cityís historic center hosts a Christmas market from early December through January 6. Milan celebrates Christmas with beautiful nativity scenes also found in many Lombardy towns and villages. Itís a great city to enjoy New Yearís Eve.
The Lombardy region of northwestern Italy is a great place for winter sports. The winter is fairly cold and even rainy in the mountains. But donít let that stop you. This region is home to many cycling clubs such as the Viale Monza group that meets four mornings a week to cycle from the Piazzale Martesana (in front of the Gaetano Pini). And hereís the best news for many of us: All levels of cyclists are welcome. Youíll find another Christmas market in the Livigno Resort of Sondrio, Lombardy on November and December weekends. In December this resort holds an Art in Ice competition in which ten international teams transform a huge block of pressed snow into a sculpture. These sculptures remain on display until the spring sun melts them. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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December events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in northern Italy