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 spring Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
British Premier Lloyd George and friends, San Remo, 1920.
So you are thinking of visiting northern Italy in March, but youíre just not sure what to see and to do. Donít you 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; March is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Liguria, go north to Piedmont, and then further north to Val díAosta in the Italian Alps. There are so many things to see and do in northern Italy in March that this is the first of three articles.
Doesn't this look lovelier than a chickpea grove?
Little Liguria in northeast Italy is the Italian Riviera. It faces the Ligurian Sea and its climate starts to warm in the early spring. If youíre not wild about crowds plan on a spring visit. You wonít regret it. San Remo, population under 60 thousand, is an upscale resort situated about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Genoa. Its Yacht Club hosts the International Italian Dragonís Cup in late March. The entry fee is a mere 250 Euros (less than 400 dollars per boat), but you must show that you are insured for claims of at least one million Euros. Would you believe that English is the official language of this Italian Regatta? So maybe youíll find me there.
Our virtual spring tour of Piedmont starts in the village Monastero Bormida, population 1000, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Turin. In early March they host a Polenta (cornbread) festival honoring that generous Marchese Rovere who provided polenta and frittata (omelets) to ravenous coppersmiths who were trapped by a sudden snowstorm. Now, over 180 years later, the village remembers him with a huge onion frittata, polenta, and salami cooked and served in the town square, accompanied by a band and allegorical floats. On the Sunday thatís nearest to March 19th the town of Castiglione d'Asti, population 6000 some 8 miles (13 kilometers) south of Asti commemorates the signing of a peace treaty between city nobles and the Church in the year 1200. About forty traditionally dressed townsfolk on foot and on horseback reenact the signing ceremony with medieval music thatís played on antique instruments. This ceremony is enhanced by white chestnut cakes and hazelnut cakes soaked in Barbera wine. Talking about fine Piedmont wine, the village of Quaranti, population 200, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Turin holds a Chickpea and Barbera Festival on the 3rd Sunday of the month. I donít know about you but Iíd rather have Barbera wine than the worldís best chickpeas.
Val díAosta is a tiny, bilingual (Italian and French speaking) enclave in the northeast corner of Italy neighboring France and Switzerland. This is Alp country so donít forget your winter clothes and your ski gear. The upscale ski resort of Courmayeur, population under three thousand, is situated near Mount Blanc. The third Saturday of March it hosts a leg of the Italian Winter Triathalon in which participants compete in foot racing, mountain biking and skiing. Near the monthís end the village of Gaby, population about 500, hosts a traditional festival featuring local gastronomic specialties. Gaby is located in the middle of Lys Valley at the foot of two important mountain passes (Colle della Vecchia and Colle Mologna). This will be different from your run of the mill Italian festivals because Gaby has a strong Germanic influence. Who would expect an Italian village to be trilingual? 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.
Feel free to reprint this entire article which must include the resource box
March events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Northern Italy