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While summer is generally regarded as the peak season for visitors to Italy, the shoulder and winter seasons open the door to a world of authentically Italian experiences best enjoyed in the quieter and cooler months. Here’s a selection of some of the most unique activities around the country to inspire your off-season trip to Italy.

Food festivals (sagre)

While incredible Italian food can be enjoyed all year round in Italy, the autumn and winter months are a time to celebrate the country’s diverse local produce and flavours. Sagra (food festivals) typically take place from October, filling the streets of Italy’s towns and villages with tantalising aromas.

The Eurochocolate Festival of Perugia – held for one week at the end of October – is a must-see event for chocoholics visiting Umbria’s capital city out of peak season. For one whole week, the air is filled with the scent of cocoa and the streets are filled with stalls selling all kinds of specialty chocolate products from handmade truffles to liquors, sauces and spreads.

Several food festivals take place in Emilia Romagna throughout autumn including Bologna’s Mortadella Bo sagra, the sagra del marrone (chestnut), the Tartofla truffle sagra, and the Tortellino sagra. Meanwhile, truffle lovers can visit San Miniato in Tuscany in November for its renowned white truffle festival with all kinds of delicacies from olive oils, breads, cheeses, and sausages featuring the prized local truffle.

Winter hikes

Travelling out of season in the cooler weather is an ideal time to enjoy some popular hiking routes around Italy. In Liguria, step back in time and experience the five colourful fishing villages the way the locals once did by navigating the picturesque cliffside trails between Monterosso, Vernazza and Corniglia on foot. On the route, you can enjoy views high above the villages and over the glistening Mediterranean Sea, visiting the olive terraces, vineyards and citrus groves along the way.

Alternatively, the shoulder seasons and winter months provide an opportunity to explore the spectacular Amalfi coastline at its most calm and serene. After the summer travellers depart, you can ascend the steep pathway that rises from the village of Camogli, passing through San Rocco di Camogli where you’ll enjoy panoramic views over Golfo Paradiso (Paradise Gulf), and meandering through the hamlets and woodlands and along exposed clifftops. If the weather is still warm enough, the beach at San Fruttuoso is a great place to stop for a swim before journeying onwards through the hills and olive groves to the famous and glamorous town of Portofino.

Cinque Terre, Liguria

Thermal baths

While travelling to Italy outside the summer season might not be the best time of year to experience the country’s vibrant beach culture, it’s the perfect time of year to visit some of Italy’s many thermal springs. Providing an escape from the cooler air and an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate, you can find steaming outdoor pools, with many offering a range of spa treatments alongside, dotted all around the country.

At the Saturnia thermal baths in Tuscany, you can immerse yourself in the natural pools of the picturesque Mulino waterfalls, while the Sirmione thermal baths in Lombardy offer incredible views over Lake Garda while you soothe in the naturally heated baths. For a top-class wellness experience, you can enjoy spa treatments, a Turkish bath and a Finnish sauna at the Bormio thermal baths, or if you find yourself in South Tyrol, why not pamper yourself while enjoying views of snowcapped mountains at the Merano thermal baths.

 Visit the Amalfi Coast

While the Amalfi Coast’s pristine natural landscapes, charming coastal villages, and cove beaches attract many visitors throughout the summer months, there are several reasons to visit the Amalfi Coast outside the peak season. Enjoy comfortable walks in the hills above quaint coastal villages, mingle with the friendly locals in less busy cafes and restaurants, and see buildings draped in colourful lights.

Visiting out of season can also help you explore much more of the Amalfi Coast for your time and budget with less busy roads and walking trails, better rates on accommodation, and more availability at some of the most popular dining spots.

Amalfi Coast in winter

Amalfi Coast in winter

Explore Tuscany

The Tuscan countryside in autumn is a real treat with vineyards fresh from the harvest and streets lined with cypress trees. Autumn in Tuscany is known for its sunny days and cool nights, making the region a delightful place to enjoy a variety of activities from playing golf on the rolling hills to cycling, road-tripping by car, or even enjoying long lunches in the countryside before retreating to your rural accommodation for a cosy night in by the fire.



Bolzano Christmas markets

Located close to the Austrian border in South Tyrol, soak up the winter festivities in Bolzano, nestled amongst the scenic Italian Alps landscape. Bolzano is easy to get to by train from major cities including Venice, Verona, Bologna and Florence.

As the night draws in, the Christmas markets come to life with delicious food, drink, crafts, and decorations, while the warm glow of festive lights fills the air. Enjoy mulled wine and local seasonal favourites while meandering the chilly streets and admiring Bolzano’s traditional buildings covered with lights and decorations.