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Episode #162: 5 Reasons to Plan an Italy trip in Spring

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A trip to Italy in Spring is the perfect time, for a number of reasons, not least temperatures which make days spent exploring more enjoyable. The countryside towns and villages are springing to life, flowers are blooming and the delicious Spring produce means some incredible dishes to try. Easter time also brings some unique celebrations and traditions all over Italy. 

Show notes
As Untold Italy founder Katy looks forward to her next trip to Italy this Spring, she shares why this is such a great time of year for a visit to Italy,  what experiences you can have and some places to consider putting on your itinerary. We talk clement days, poppies and irises, tiny strawberries, asparagus, and artichokes. 

What you’ll learn in this episode

In Spring, all over Italy, the landscape is changing as flowers begin to bloom – from poppy and iris fields to cherry trees. The Spring produce becomes available for the incredible dishes you will only get at this time of year. 

Reasons to visit Italy in Spring

The perfect weather for both sightseeing and eating pasta

There is a lot of walking involved when you’re in Italy. It’s easy to rack up 20,000 steps a day without really trying. But walking isn’t so enjoyable when it is hot, humid and you’re surrounded by buildings that soak up the sun’s rays and pump it out through their walls like radiators. Last year Katy arrived in Rome in mid-May and the temperatures were already 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and those high temperatures continued until mid-October. 

You can make it work of course, but it can mean you don’t feel like eating hearty pasta or a glass of red wine which can be a big part of the dream when you’re headed to Italy. Having traveled to Italy in March and April on many occasions Katy finds the fresh days of around 18-20 Celsius (mid-60s Fahrenheit) in Rome, central Italy and the south are just perfect for an active trip. Walking is a pleasure. There is the odd rain shower, but it’s rarely excessive – and that’s often the perfect time to duck into a trattoria and enjoy your hearty pasta and glass of Chianti.

In Springtime, you also get an extra hour of daylight to add to your exploring. Clocks go forward in late March so the days are longer but you don’t yet have the heat of summer. 

Fewer visitors mean more fun

Crowds are so much bigger in summer in Italy than in Spring, in fact, visitor numbers in June are double those in March as unsurprisingly, they are generally all concentrated in a few areas – Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and Amalfi Coast.

Some people don’t mind crowds, but many of us find them anxiety-inducing and just don’t feel we have enough breathing space to truly enjoy things and so Spring can be a good option for a visit to Italy – especially the tourist hot spots. It’s not just intercontinental travelers like those from America, Australia, Canada, etc, but a lot of Europeans love to go to Italy for summer holidays.

Better Deals

The simple laws of supply and demand will tell you that when there is high demand and visitor numbers, prices go up, especially for flights and accommodation which are your biggest costs usually when traveling. Travel in Spring and you can find much better deals on your hotels and inbound flights which means you can stay longer (hooray!) or upgrade yourself as a treat.

Watching flight costs on Google flights and Skyscanner is always a good idea when planning a trip and you will notice quickly the spike in prices in summer and deals around the shoulder seasons. 

Good vibes, festivals and fun

Katy has spent a third of her adult life living in Europe and has witnessed just how dramatically the collective mood changes when Spring arrives. Everyone smiles more and throws themselves into being outdoors and enjoying the sunshine.

Flowers are in full bloom and if you’re lucky enough to be in the Tuscan or Umbrian countryside you can see fields of poppies, irises and wildflowers carpeting the landscapes. In Sicily too the wildflowers are incredible and in Emilia-Romagna, the cherry blossom is celebrated in their own festival. 

If you head to Florence you’re in for a real treat if you head to the city’s iris garden, which is home to well over 1000 varieties whic is open only for about 20 days in April and May. On the opposite side of Piazzale Michelangelo to the Rose garden, the iris garden is not only stunning but an important part of the city – as the iris is the symbol of Florence appearing on the city’s coat of arms.

Italy has many other beautiful gardens worth exploring in Spring – from the lakeside villas of Como, Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore, to Villa d’Este near Rome and the splendor of the immense estate at the palace of Caserta near Naples.

Easter

Spring, of course, is also Easter time – a very important time of the year for Italians when there are many processions and activities across the Easter weekend. The days are marked by special details – bread and cakes only made at that time of year, marzipan lambs, huge processions of wooden floats representing the resurrection, and plenty of feasting. 

In Florence, Easter is marked by the Scoppio del Carro or ‘explosion of the cart’ where a cart laden with fireworks is ignited outside the Duomo in a noisy and colorful display whose origins date back to the crusades. These ancient rituals are incredibly special and unique, in great contrast to chocolate eggs and bunnies. 

In the tourism industry in Italy, they had an exhaustingly busy time last year. In the Spring the operators have had a decent rest over winter and are energized and ready to get out and about and show their clients a great time. Everyone is in a good mood in Spring.

Spring foods

The food in Italy is seasonal and local, so this means Spring is an exciting time to visit. At this time the artichokes are fresh in Rome and carciofi dishes are super delicious. You get lots of asparagus in pasta dishes and in risotto – and there’s Abbacchio (suckling lamb).

You can’t visit Italy at Easter without trying Colomba – a delicious dove-shaped cake made at Easter time or the tiny strawberry variety that packs a flavor punch that appears at Springtime.

In late spring cherries appear and zucchini flowers are in bloom, ready for stuffing and frying – a delicious treat. 

Where to go

So where are the best places in Italy to visit in Spring?

  • it’s definitely a good time for visiting the major tourist hot spots without the crowds. Katy was on the Amalfi Coast last Spring and it was much easier and nicer to potter around and they drove as well – which she would definitely avoid as peak season begins
  • the Italian lakes are gorgeous in Spring thanks to their beautiful villa gardens
  • Sicily is incredible thanks to wildflowers, festivals and manageable temperatures as it gets super hot there in summer
  • for cherry blossoms, the Emilia region bursts into color thanks to the cherry groves outside of Modena
  • in Tuscany irises, spring lamb, and wildflowers bloom
  • Piedmont the rolling hills start to turn green and there are new vintages to try

Some places that aren’t always a great idea in Springtime:

  • the mountains where Spring is a break between the busy winter and summer seasons and many hotels and chairlift operators take their annual breaks
  • Puglia can also be a bit tricky before Easter which is generally the time that hotels and restaurants reopen in time for the annual season

Not everyone has the choice of when they can travel – in particular, we know teachers and parents of school-aged children are generally stuck with fixed-date vacations, but if you have any discretion about when you travel consider traveling in Spring because it is beautiful, less crowded, the energy is high and the weather is perfect for sightseeing (followed by a lovely plate of pasta).

We have a few spots left on our very small group Untold Italy tours this Spring if you’re considering a last-minute escape. On our tours, you can expect deep immersion into local culture, with experiences that will tug at your soul and linger in your memories forever. You’ll meet local artisans, visit secret places and get to enjoy what will likely be some of the best meals of your life. Find out more on untolditalytours.com. We have trips to Sicily available for the Spring of 2024. Our East Sicily tour includes the beautiful city of Ragusa, described at the beginning of the podcast – with its carpet of pink flowers and stunning gardens, making it a gorgeous Spring location. Check out our other Spring options for Untold Italy tours to Umbria, Tuscany Piedmont and Beyond Bologna.

Places mentioned in the show

  • Lake Como villas – villas worth a visit in Spring include Villa Monastero and Villa Carlotta 
  • Isola Bella – island in Lake Maggiore
  • Villa d’Este – villa near Rome
  • Caserta – palace of the Kingdom of Naples that rivals (if not beats) Versailles for its opulence
  • Giardino dell’Iris – Florence’s iris garden, open only 2nd – 20th May each year and for free

Food & Drink

  • carciofi – artichoke, which comes into season in Spring
  • abbacchio – suckling lamb
  • Colomba di Pasqua – traditional Easter bread/cake, made in a similar manner to panettone

Resources

  • Scoppio del Carro – the ‘explosion of the cart’, an event in Florence where a cart laden with fireworks is ignited outside the Duomo

Resources from Untold Italy

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Transcript

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