A wine tour of Italy in the winter time may not seem ideal, but for those who want less crowds and don’t mind a bit of wind, it can be just as magical.
Let’s dive right into our seasonal selection of the four best Italian wine regions to visit in the winter.
This is probably not the first region that comes to mind when asked where to go to Italy in the winter. There are no ski resorts, the weather can be frigid, and the days seem a little too short to do much. But hear us out: Emilia-Romagna is the gastronomic capital of Italy and who doesn’t want to eat their way through a plate of pasta Bolognese on a cold afternoon?
In fact, Bologna’s cuisine is affectionately nicknamed “La Grassa” (The Fat Lady) due to its richness in flavour and liberal use of Parmigiano-Reggiano. An afternoon of tasting Sangiovese in Umberto Cesari’s cellar followed by a dinner of culinary delights seems like a great way to enjoy wine in the winter!
And speaking of the cold, unless you live in year-round tropical weather, we promise it isn’t so bad. The sweeping landscape of vineyards at Umberto Cesari can only survive thanks to the “calanchi” – steep ravines that have formed over millennia and protect the vines (and humans) from extremely harsh conditions blowing from the north. Also, a vineyard covered in snow? Gorgeous.
This spectacular wine region is making the list again. Although it may be shrouded in a blanket of fog and the stunning fall foliage has long fallen, Piedmont is just endlessly enchanting.
It is even more so from the air! Winter is the season of hot air balloons in the Langhe. In fact, the Raduno Internazionale dell’Epifania (International Epiphany Rally) is held the first week of January each year in Mondovì. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to take in the UNESCO vineyard landscapes and statuesque views of the Alps from unbelievable heights.
Of course, being surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piedmont is a great place to ski. Not far from the vineyards is Limone Piemonte, a gorgeous ski resort that lives up to its sunshiny name. Ski and then sip sounds like the perfect winter dream to us.
It is impossible to exclude the infamous Veneto wine region from a winter’s best list. Similar to Piedmont, Veneto has landscapes to make your heart melt, even in the cold, and boasts some of Italy’s best ski resorts.
Just a little to the north of the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene valley, the Dolomites rise up in steep splendour and cast their shade over Cortina d’Ampezzo. You may have heard of this little town nestled in the mountains. It is one of Europe’s most acclaimed winter resort towns and is a favourite among the jet set scene. Plus, Prosecco makes for the best après-ski celebration.
Oh, and did we mention Carnevale? The masked debauchery descends on Venice in the last two weeks of February. The perfect moment to throw caution into the biting winter winds and indulge in wine tastings, good food and a little bit of mystery.
Normally we would save Central/South Italy for the lush spring or sweltering summer. However, Rome in the winter time has an unbeatable appeal: no crowds.
Although the Eternal City is busy year-round, winter is the best season to dig in and brave the (much) shorter lines for the sites you’ve long-been aching to cross off the bucket list. The climate is mild enough to still enjoy the sunshine, even if with a scarf and jacket. And your pictures will be amazing in the clear winter air.
Plus, you’ll feel like you deserve that luscious plate of carbonara or rich trippa alla romana once the evening chill settles in and you’ve spent the day exploring ancient ruins. And a tasting of red wine will chase the last of frosty noses away.