5 Things You Must Do This Winter in Northern Italy
November 30, 2016
If gorgeous alpine scenery, charming mountain towns, incredible ambiance and excellent cuisine sound appealing, then we've got a winter destination for you. Northern Italy is home to some of the world's best outdoor recreation opportunities, in tandem with Europe's best luxury hotels, resorts and spas. Whether you seek outdoor adventure or the best luxury accommodations in Italy, Northern Italy offers the best of both worlds, creating the perfect winter destination for all types of travelers. To get a sense of the incredible diversity of vacation possibilities, read on to explore Mr. & Mrs. Italy Top 5 Must Dos in Northern Italy.
Spanning from Italy’s eastern border with France, to its northern most border with Switzerland, and west alongside Austria, the Dolomites are a section of the Italian Alps, renowned for their beauty, recreational opportunities and charming mountain towns. These mountains are undeniably gorgeous; the jagged peaks, sheer cliffs and pale limestone rock give the Dolomites its well-earned reputation for being the most spectacular mountain range in the world. With over 1,200 km of skiing, this UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site offers resort terrain between 1,500 and 3,000 meters in elevation (roughly 5000 to 10,000 feet), 450 lifts and 12 major ski areas. With such a vast area of slopes, the range of terrain is nearly endless, including excellent beginner-friendly hills to some of the world’s most challenging backcountry skiing. American snow sports enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised by the affordability of lift tickets in Italy, as well as the charming mountain culture and hospitality that is deeply engrained in the area. The bevy of on-piste refugios and huts encapsulate this culture, offering an incredibly scenic setting in which to enjoy some of the best traditional alpine food and drink between runs.
*It would be difficult to overstate the degree to which these hotels have crafted an incredible luxury experience, perfectly tailored to outdoor enthusiasts. From the opportunity to explore local terrain with Italian ski and snowboard legends (World Cup ski racer or snowboard Olympian/ X-Games medalist included), to gorgeous spa facilities and Michelin star cuisine, these properties perfectly pair very best in hospitality with some of the best snow sports recreation in the world.
Cortina has long been recognized as the Aspen of the Dolomites, an ultra chic town that has been the premier European winter destination for centuries. An alpine epicenter of fashion, wealth and beauty, this is a place to see and be seen. While Cortina certainly offers excellent skiing, most visitors come for the world class shopping (chic boutiques and antique shops abound), the well-heeled populace of Europeans, and the elegant, sometimes rowdy food and drinks of Après Ski. Ground zero of Europe's luxury travel scene, the nightlife and dining options here are extensive and world renowned.
Part of the thrill of vacation is the license to indulge and relax, and it just so happens some of the world’s best places to do so are tucked among the mountains of Northern Italy. From Michelin starred restaurants to internationally recognized spas and wellness centers, Northern Italy is home to some truly spectacular places to kick back, relax and pamper yourself. Whether you’re looking to experience the local wellness traditions of the Dolomites (recline on soft and fragrant pine bows in a marble steam room, then sample a massage with alpine herbs) or to relax in naturally thermic waters overlooking the shores of Lake Garda, rest, relaxation and serenity await you.
If you want to see some of Italy’s most popular attractions without the hordes of visitors, winter is an excellent time to visit. Forget standing in line for hours in the sweltering heat of the summer and instead pack your sweaters and a rain coat, but be rewarded with significantly more intimate experiences. With the crowds of tourists gone, Venice’s narrow alleys and gorgeous palazzos evoke the magic and mystery the City on the Lagoon is so famous for, not to mention hotels are significantly cheaper. Avoid the hordes of summer tourists and gain a unique perspective on Italy’s most beautiful lakes with a winter visit. Lake Lugano on the Swiss border is particularly picturesque, but all the lakes are surrounded by high peaks, sure to be snowcapped and especially stunning during this time of year. While colder weather means travelers won’t be partaking in the typical summertime lake activities, this is a great time to do wine tastings, cooking classes and enjoy the spa offerings in the area.
Northern Italy’s Christmas markets are a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit and experience the magic of the holidays Italian style. From the end of November to the beginning of January, towns throughout the country hold street markets in which local artisans sell their products in traditional wooden huts, with snowy peaks and sparkling lights provide a incredibly festive backdrop. Besides being a great way to celebrate the holidays like an Italian, these markets provide an excellent, immersive opportunity to experience local traditions, delicacies, artisanal products and cultural customs.
Intrigued by the options of Northern Italy? Thinking about the possibility of a Northern Italian vacation itinerary? Contact us today to discuss your trip, or fill out this form to start planning your winter wonderland vacation!