February is not the most popular month to visit Italy. However, don’t write it off just yet. While the weather may not always be ideal, February in Italy usually means less crowds and cheaper prices. And, for those who can appreciate a wintery landscape, this month can be quite beautiful in certain parts of the country. In fact, since part of Italy touches the Alps, you can find yourself traveling through a winter wonderland. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Italy if you’re visiting in February. Some of them may surprise you.
Italy Weather in February
February weather in Italy can be damp and cold, especially if you’re visiting up north. But, don’t call off your trip just yet, this can actually be a great opportunity. If you’re into winter sports or just love the wintery atmosphere, February is a great time to visit. You’ll likely see some snow capped Alps, and have fantastic opportunities to ski and snowboard.
Sure, the weather during February isn’t ideal for everyone, but it usually means less crowds and a cheaper vacation. Plus, part of Italy’s allure are the museums, and you don’t need nice weather to explore them. And, let’s not forget that Italy has a variety of interesting festivals taking place in February that are truly worth experiencing. Thinking about Italy in February? Here are some of top things to see and do.
Escape the cold while wandering the many museums of Florence. You’ll never have to step foot outside to learn all about the art and architecture of this great city. It’s difficult to say where to start, as there are so many incredible and important museums here. However, some of the highlights include the Accademia Gallery, where you can Michelangelo’s David statue. There’s an entire museum dedicated to the life and work of Galileo, as well as the Uffizi Gallery which features work by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Giotto. Make sure to visit the Palatine Gallery, Palazzo Publico, Palazzo Pitti, and Bargello. Florence is dotted with smaller, niche museums that are fun to find if you do feel like braving the cold.
In Vatican City, wintery weather is no problem at all. The Vatican museums are so extensive that you could spend an entire day indoors. Not only will you stay warm, but you’ll have access to some of Italy’s most interesting and famous artifacts and artwork. This network of museums holds more than 20,000 pieces of art, collected by the various Pope throughout the years. Not only is this collection religiously significant, but it’s filled with artistic masterpieces. Some of the highlights include the Renaissance collection, works by Raphael, the Gallery of Maps, the sculpture collection, and of course, the Sistine Chapel.
While Venice may be known for its canals, bridges, and gondola rides, it’s also a great city for museum hopping. Stay warm while exploring the diverse art and architecture here. Take a few hours to wander the Galleria dell’Accademia, which is known for its extensive collection of Venetian artifacts. Make a point to wander through the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is one of the top art museums in Italy. And, spend some time exploring Ca’Rezzonico, which is full of 18th century works of art displayed over three floors.
Bormio Hot Springs
Did you know that Italy is home to an impressive collection of hot springs? The chilly month of February is perfect for testing out these natural hot pools around the country. Bormio is located on the Swiss border and is the location of Bagni Di Bormio hot springs spa. The springs stay at a temperature between 37 and 43 °C the entire year. The spa itself offers an impressive lineup of soothing therapies so make sure to try them out.
Skiing in Turin
If you want to experience winter sports in Italy, this snowy destination is worth a visit. Turin is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to The Alps,’ and it’s well known and loved among tourists and locals. The town itself isn’t a great spot for skiing, but it serves as a hub for nearby mountains where the slopes are prime. It’s a scenic destination to stay for a few nights of winter sports fun. If you want to be close to the action but just far enough away to relax with incredible food and views, Turin is the place.
Take a Self-Guided Wine Bar Tour
If you’re familiar with Italy, you probably know that wine in this country is a big deal. One of the best ways to beat the winter cold is to stay inside with a warming class of wine. There are wine bars all over the country but some of the best cities to find them include Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. Some of the top wine bars to visit include, N’Ombra de Vin, Coquinarius, and Enoteca Ferrara.
Do Some Church Hopping
Italian churches are like museums as they are full of artwork and show off some of the country’s best architecture. There is no shortage of churches in this country, so you’ll be able to find quite a few no matter where you are. However, some of the country’s top churches to visit include: St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza del Duomo, San Miniato al Monte, and St. Mark’s cathedral.
Aquarium of Genoa
This is the largest aquarium in Italy, and a great place to escape the winter weather. It’s an interesting place to visit with kids, as a couple, or even by yourself. It can be found in the former harbor district of Genoa, and holds 70 tanks with more than 6,000,000 liters of water. There is 10,000 meters of exhibit space so give yourself plenty of time to explore.
National Museum of Cinema
This Italian motion picture museum can be found in the northern city of Turin. It’s a quirky museum that is the result of a historian and collectors passion. Visitors can find antiquated video equipment, props from Italian films, and a series of chapels that depict various film genres. The museum also houses a large collection of movie posters, paintings, and artworks that all have to do with the film industry.
Take a Cooking Class
Italy is known for its delicious culinary scene. While it’s easy and enjoyable to eat your way around the country, it’s also fun to try your hand at Italian cooking. No matter where you’re visiting, you’ll find plenty of choices for cooking classes. These are typically held indoors, so you won’t have to worry about being out in the cold. Learn how to craft perfect pasta dishes, make pesto, and craft the perfect tomato sauce. Authentic, Italian cooking skills are some of the best souvenirs to bring home.
Go on a Cafe Tour
Take a self-guided cafe tour while you’re in Italy. Italians are big fans of coffee drinks and cafe living, so you’ll have plenty of choices. Test out the cappuccino, coffee, and espresso. February is a great time to enjoy cafe life as it’ll give you a chance to escape the cold while taking in the local scene. Definitely do some people watching while you sip on a steamy cup of caffeinated specialities (it will help you connect with the local culture.) Italy’s best cafe cities are Venice, Florence, and Rome, where you’ll find traditional coffee spots and more modern, trendy cafes.
Visit a Covered Market in Rome
Wandering the extensive Roman markets is a must when visiting Italy. You’ll find tons of interesting food, souvenirs, and people watching. While many of these markets are outside, Rome also has a few covered markets to explore. Try visiting the Esquilino Market, Mercato Trionfale, or Mercato Testaccio. You’ll stay warm while taking in an authentic, Italian view of local life.
One of the highlights of a February visit to Italy are the festivals. You won’t be able to experience them any other time of year. Here are some of the top February festivals to check out.
Saint Agatha’s Feast Day
This is one of the world’s largest religious festivals and it takes place in the beginning weeks of February. You’ll need to visit the city of Catania in Sicily if you want to experience all of the festivities. The festival celebrates the patron Saint Agatha, who has quite a feminist backstory. According to the tales, Saint Agatha was a teenager when she denied the advances of a well-off Roman suitor. He didn’t take the rejection well, and went as far as to kidnap and torture her in various ways. One of the most famous ways he hurt her was by cutting off her breasts. Statues of Saint Agatha show her holding a plate of amputated breasts, which is a vulgar display of what supposedly happened. As the story goes, she was supposed to be burned at the stake, but an earthquake foiled that plan. She was sent to prison instead, where she eventually died. The story is a sad, but the festival brings together millions to celebrate her life and her bravery. Plus, it’s one of the most unique Italian festivals that you can find.
Almond Blossom Fair
The Almond Blossom Fair brings together Italian locals who are eager for spring. It can be found in the city of Agrigento, in Sicily, and signifies the beginning of the harvest. Visitors from all over the world come here to celebrate with parades, cultural events, and live music. It’s a lighthearted festival that brings locals and tourists together to celebrate Italy and all of its natural beauty.
Olive and Bruschetta Festival
Foodies are going to love this festival! While February may be considered a winter month, it actually marks the start of spring for many Italian farmers. During this time, farmers start planting trees and seeds, getting ready for the warmer months of growth. If you’re visiting the town of Spello in Umbria, get ready for a feast at the Olive and Bruschetta Festival. You’ll usually find the festivities taking place on the third Sunday of February, as locals and tourists come out to celebrate the harvest. While visiting, you can learn all about olive growing, harvesting, and use in Italian food. You can see demonstrations of olive oil pressing, and have the opportunity to taste some of the freshest oils around. Aside from a delicious meal, you’ll also have access to dancing, live music, a farmer’s parade, and plenty of olive oil shopping.
If you’re visiting Venice during Carnevale, you’re in for a serious treat! This is one of Italy’s most anticipated and famous festivals. Each year it’s held 40 days after Easter, so don’t expect the date to be the same. While there are festitivite taking place all around the country, Venice is the top place to experience Carnevale. For two weeks leading up to the main event, Venice comes alive with costumes, elaborate masks, events, festivals, and parades. Luxurious hotels throw lavish masquerade balls, and Piazza San Marco is buzzing with culture and color. If you’re visiting, make sure to grab a mask of your own from one of the local shops. It will allow you to join in on the festivities while making a great souvenir to bring back home. Many hotels offer costume rental services so you can join in without blowing your budget on an elaborate costume.
San Remo Song Festival
Love music? Then this festival is the one for you. It’s one of the most famous music festivals and song contests in all of Italy. While you can watch the festivities on T.V, the best way to experience this event is in-person. You’ll have to visit the town on Sanremo if you want to see the musical performances up close. This festival has gained fame over the years as it has launched the careers of many famous, Italian singers. If you’re into music, culture, and concerts, definitely add San Remo Song Festival to your list.
If you’re visiting Italy in February, get ready for plenty of unique festivals, cultural attractions and less crowds. While the weather may not be ideal, the opportunity to see another side of Italy makes a winter trip worth it.