Pick any day of the year—mid-summer, late winter, the fall equinox, your birthday—and you’ve found a great time to visit Italy. No matter what the season, you can count on lo Stivale (“the Boot”) for spectacular ruins, warm locals, romantic landscapes, and cuisine that takes your breath away. Simply put: the Colosseum is always the Colosseum and pasta is always pasta. Still, if there’s one often-overlooked time of year that we can recommend to guests, it’s spring. Why? Here are five reasons:
1. The Flowers—During both spring and fall, you’ll enjoy sunny skies, mild daytime temperatures, and delightfully cool nights in Italy. However, only spring delivers a lush green landscape and a profusion of colorful flowers. Enjoy wild orchids on the Amalfi Coast, Tuscan fields blanketed in poppies and irises, and manicured gardens surrounding villas on Lake Como. In Florence, many gardens usually closed to the public are opened up to display banks of roses. Even the vineyards are in bloom, as grape blossoms hint at the wine vintage to come.
2. The Food—Each season brings its own unique harvest of fruits and vegetables, and Italians have created a delightful diversity of seasonal specialties as a result. Savor spring’s delicate vegetables—zucchini, wild asparagus, and artichokes—in dishes you won’t be able to find any other time of year. Cherries, strawberries, and apricots make for exceptional fruit desserts as well.
3. The Festivals—Italians don’t just enjoy spring fruits, vegetables, and blooms, they celebrate them. In festivals like Spoleto’s la Sagra degli Asparagi (Asparagus Festival) or Piedmont’s risotto festivals, favorite ingredients are showcased in week-long city-wide feasts. In Umbria, the Cantina Aperte (“Open cellar”) movement gets local vineyards to open their doors for a weekend of tastings, classes, and special meals. Florence even hosts a gelato festival each May!
4. The Farmers—It makes sense: during the time of year when vegetables are being harvested and grape arbors are being prepped, farmers spend a lot of time in fields. That means it’s a great time for you to cross paths with them while hiking. As our guide, Francesca, puts it, “Spring is the most important season for farmers preparing vines and soil to make the best wine. They spend enormous amounts of time choosing the best buds from each vine, too. We often happen upon vintners or farmhands while out on hikes.”
5. The Freshening Up!—Many hotels, restaurants, parks, and some museums close from November to March for a “resting” period after the fall high season. Owners use the time to re-model, update facilities, do some painting, visit family, or even just travel themselves. National parks perform trail maintenance and restore stone walls. Fishermen service their boats and mend nets. As a result, there’s a palpable energy when the spring season begins. Chefs, hoteliers, and guides are re-charged—excited to show off any new upgrades and greet a new year of guests.