With Alpine resorts swathed in snow by January and crisp sunny days in other parts of the country, not to mention serene cities covered in light mist offering a treasure trove of galleries, museums and art galleries are at their quietest and arguably most enjoyable.
Florence is never exactly crowd free, but between November and February this joyous city has fewer tourists and more Florentines than during the rest of the year. See Uccello’s Rout of San Romano and Botticelli’s La Primavera, as well as works by Da Vinci and Michelangelo at the Uffizi when the crowds dwindle a couple of hours before it closes, or take a train to Tuscany’s charming cities on a day trip to Siena or Arezzo for its renowned open-air antiques market on the first Sunday of each month.
Rome has all the romance of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in designer clothing, but in the winter there is a festive warmth to it that makes up for the lower temperatures. When in Rome, invest in the Roma Pass (www.romapass.it) to get three days of admission to archaeological sites and many museums, a map and unlimited public transport. There is even a post-Christmas holiday on 8 January for Epiphany; this celebration centres on Piazza Navona, with stalls laden with sweets and figurines.
A cool winter visit to Venice will see the water in the canals tends to reach its highest so do take a pair of wellies to trudge over the planks laid over Venice like a web by the local council, but what an experience it is! The main artistic attraction in Venice is the Accademia which has an amazing collection spanning five centuries of Venetian art, while coffees in St Mark’s Square and Bellinis at Harry’s Bar are a blissful way to mill around.
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