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 winter vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes skiing and other winter sports. Italian winter holidays have several advantages: You won’t fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own winter festivals. When we say winter, we mean November to February; spring comes early in Italy. Don’t look here for information about Italy’s marvelous Carnivale; we are planning a separate series covering regional Carnivale celebrations. Talk about planning; start organizing your Italian winter holidays now. Keep reading.
The island of Sardinia east of the Italian mainland has a relatively mild winter. And yet you won’t want to sit in your shirtsleeves in a seaside café sipping a local wine. That pleasure will have to wait for the other seasons. November 1 is the day of the Dead, and in Nuoro many families prepare a feast and leave room at the table for departed loved ones. They cook lots of extra food and share the meal with less fortunate neighbors. Then people join the holy procession to the Madonna delle Grazie sanctuary, where village from neighboring villages sing hymns. The village of Desulo holds a ‘Mountain Products Agricultural Fair’ with handicraft and painting exhibitions during the first week of November.
Giara Sardinia is home to exotic flora and fauna.
Santa Lucia is a beloved saint whose December 13th festival is celebrated in many towns such as Nurachi Tempio. Cagliari holds a Christmas Fair for two weeks in December featuring traditional crafts, food, and wine.
Alghero is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve, especially in the Old Town whose piazzas host live music concerts culminating in a grand firework display over the harbor. There are firecrackers in the streets, and most bars stay open until at least 6 am the following morning! St. Anthony's Day is widely celebrated in Sardinia on January 16 and 17. Ancient tradition has it that the saint, like Prometheus, stole into hell and brought back fire, so a bonfire is at the center of the festivities. Each town places different herbs and fruits atop the blaze, creating a unique aroma. The women bring sweets and dark fruity loaves of pane nigheddu, while men enjoy wine and aquavit. The most spectacular celebration is said to be in Mamoiada, where 12 frightening masks called mamuthones represent the months of the year.
Enjoy Saint Anthony's Day in mid-January.
Every weekend from early January to mid February Alghero holds its Bogamarì Sea Urchin Festival that dates back to the days when Sardinia was ruled by Catalonia; this town’s nickname is still Barcelonetta and the old people still speak a form of Catalan. The restaurants offer specials such as Spaghetti al Riccio di mare (Spaghetti a la Sea Urchins) best enjoyed with local white wine. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Sardinia wines including Vermentino di Gallura.
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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Winter events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Sardinia, Italy