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.
Venice Italy Lido Beach, it's a lot less crowded in January.
So you are thinking of visiting northern Italy in January, 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; January is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Emilia-Romagna on the Gulf of Venice, go north to Veneto, continue north to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and then head east to Trentino-Alto Adige. A companion article looks at January attractions in other regions of northern Italy.
Balloon festival Dobbiaco Italy, bring the kids.
At the end of January Emilia-Romagna Ďs capital Bologna celebrates Arte Fiera, a large international contemporary art Fair. This is followed by the month long Bologna Art First in which the old town celebrates modern art at over a dozen locations. Then itís on to Veneto.
On New Year's Day you may enjoy a dip in the waters of Venice's Lido Beach. Be warned, itís pretty cold. But it may cure you of your hangover. According to legend a white haired witch known as La Befana arrives by broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones. On January 6 Venice sports the Befana races in which men dressed as La Befana race boats on the Grand Canal. Verona hosts an international display of nativity scenes in its Arena throughout January. For the first half of January the seaside resort of Jesolo presents sand sculpture nativity scenes in the Piazza Marconi made by top international artists. Charitable donations are requested.
In Friuli-Venezia Giulia as elsewhere, January 6 is the feast of Epiphany. Many of the towns and villages hold traditional, colorful celebrations. Gemona del Friuili hosts the Epiphany of the Thaler, a historical parade of dames and knights that accompany the townís Mayor to the Duomo (Cathedral) where a special Mass is recited. Paularo hosts a bonfire known as La Femenate. Tarcentoís Pignarul Giant Bonfire Festival dates back for centuries. A venerable old man tells stories and at the top of a hill lights a bonfire. Legend says that the direction of the smoke serves to predict the nature of the year to come. Other local Epiphany events include Cividaleís Historical Pageant and Costume Parade and Gemonaís Messa del Tallero (Medieval Pageant).
We finish our tour in Trentino-Alto Adige. Castelrotto (Kastelruth in German) is quite Germanic, complete with strudel, dumplings, and oom-pah-pah music. It hosts several special events every January. First comes the Trial of the Witches, Castelrotto was said to be full of them. Then enjoy the Dobbiaco Balloon Festival. On the third Sunday the town reenacts a traditional peasant wedding; about twenty sleds transport the traditionally dressed wedding party to the church. The towns of San Candido and San Vigilio hold a great Ice Sculpture Festival in mid January. If you are driving there, make sure to bring along snow chains, a reflective vest and a warning triangle. Winter driving in the mountains is serious stuff. 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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January events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in northern Italy