Holiday ideas

10 travel tips across Italy in December

We suggest 10 destinations, selected on the basis of our user comments.

  • 1. Sondrio
  • 2. Rieti
  • 3. L'Aquila
  • 4. Bergamo
  • 5. Pavia
  • 6. Roma
  • 7. Bolzano
  • 8. Cremona
  • 9. Aosta
  • 10. Monza e Brianza
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With the Christmas markets, the Immaculate Conception long weekend, visits to decked-out towns, and choices on where to spend your New Year’s in agriturismo, December is a month full of things to do in Italy.

To plan (properly!) we suggest our 10 provinces for December, ready to satisfy all your needs.  The 10 travel destinations we’ve selected are based on the top 10 provinces chosen by other farm holiday goers who’ve already visited these places and are perfect for this time of year.

1. Sondrio

Would you like to spend some relaxing days in the mountains, with good food, spas, and Christmas markets? Then your next destination is the province of Sondrio in Lombardy. What better place to take in the holiday season if not in Bormio and Livigno in the Alta Valtellina?

Found on the border between Switzerland and right near St. Moritz, two key cities a few hours away from Milan are Bormio and Livigno. Want to know more? At Bormio for example, you’ll find two fantastic and romantic spas called Bagni Vecchi and Bagni Nuovi where you can relax and taste hot pizzoccheri, a typical local dish made with buckwheat and seasoned with cabbage and melted cheese. Then some skiing to work the meal off. Try the Braulio, a classic local liquor.

At Livigno, instead, visit the very elegant Christmas Market where you can go shopping, photograph manger scenes, and try delicious local food. Here, too, you can ski on the loveliest trails, at two major ski resorts: Carosello 3000 and Mottolino. And when you’re tired you can rest in a shelter and recharge with a bombardino: a beverage made from hot zabaione, brandy, coffee, and whipped cream for the more gluttonous. Here in Bormio, too, you can relax in a local yet modern spa and at Christmas you can go iceskating.

Obviously, we suggest our agriturismi in the province of Sondrio for accommodations. Among these many also have stables for horse riding in the mountains, restaurants for trying tasty typical food, and owners who can’t wait to host you in their traditional accommodations in the Valtellina.

What are you waiting for?

2. Rieti

In December, the villages around Rieti are all to explore. Resting on the banks of the small yet gracious Lago del Turano there’s Castel di Tora, a gem in the lush countryside where we suggest you visit the lovely main square with its Triton fountain.

The province of Rieti is studded with hamlets, abbeys, castles, traces of medieval history and archeological sites, nestled in a precious natural landscape. In this context you can experience certain events from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In Rieti you’ll find magnificent “hidden” palaces: the Underground Rieti, an evocative itinerary amidst the Roman ancient viaduct.

Fortresses, shrines, and castles are another feature of this area. You can’t miss some Saint Francis shrines, which are also part of the Walk of Saint Francis across the Reatina valley. Here you’ll see the Santuario di Fonte Colombo, the Sacro Speco, the Santuario di Greccio, the Santuario di Poggio Bustone. Castles and fortresses can be admired at Pescorocchiano, the Castello di Corvaro at Borgorose, at Collalto, at Fara in Sabina, where you’ll also see the Abbazia di Farfa, one of the province’s most important monuments.

Did you know that in the province of Rieti you can go on the ski trails at monte Terminillo? If you’re looking for relax, we suggest the numerous spas, quite famous since ancient times: Cotilia,  Parco delle Terme di Fonte Cottorella, Terme di Antrodoco. 

You should also visit the elegant historic center of Cittaducale, from the Middle Ages.
During Christmas you can organize a trip to Greccio where every year a live manger scene is installed, and it’s the oldest in the world: created for the first time by Saint Francis, today the re-evocation is repeated every year in the places which Francis had chosen.

To best organize your trip, look at our agriturismi in the province of Rieti.

3. L'Aquila

During December, it’s probably already snowed in Italy. L’Aquila and its province could be the perfect destination if you wish to spend a weekend near the ski trails.

It’s the perfect time to load your skis and boots and head for Abruzzo with the entire family!

Among the numerous places to ski, we suggest the Campo Imperatore, one of the coldest places in Italy, right near the Gran Sasso, with its 60 km of trails. Only 15 minutes from L’Aquila, towards Rome, there’s Campo Felice with its 16 km of trails, where you can reach the ski resorts at Roccaraso, a lesser known locations but one of the best along the Apennines, and Pescasseroli. Plus Ovindoli, a stunning mountain with modern resorts and over 30 km of trails.

The province of L’Aquila has 13 municipalities (out of 108) part of "Italy’s loveliest hamlets": Castel del Monte and Navelli are just two examples. Lush nature, in addition to the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, it also includes part of the Parco Nazionale della Maiella, which with the Monte Amaro (2.795 m), hosts the second highest Apennine mountain top, and the Parco Regionale Sirente-Velino. Here you’ll find the Aterno River, considered the coldest in Italy. Finally, there’s the Riserva Naturale "Zompo lo Schioppo", with the loveliest waterfall along the Apennines. Don’t miss the museums of L’Aquila and Avezzano, the Roman ruins of Corfinio and Alba Fucens, the castle and museum of Celano.

Interested in spending a few days or an entire week in the province of L’Aquila? Start here: choose one of our agriturismi in the province of L’Aquila and begin dreaming about all the activities in Abruzzo in December. Yes, total relax is allowed in our agriturismi!

4. Bergamo

A stroll across the province of Bergamo is just what you need if you’re looking for a relaxing trip in December. The entire Valle Brembana is full of breathtaking views... All you have to do is get in your car and start driving.

Did you know that in Val Brembana Harlequin was born, the famous mask and colorful costume? His origins are found in Oneta, a small hamlet nestled in the forests where you can visit the home-museum dedicated to this Commedia dell'arte character. 
Don’t miss Bretto, with plenty of small, old white houses, but also San Pellegrino with its vintage, design atmospheres. Cornello dei Tasso is famous for the birth of the modern-day postal service: among its streets you’ll find the Post Office museum, with lots of penny blacks, one of the oldest stamps in the world. Cornello dei Tasso is also home to the famous writer, and you can even visit his house!

Don’t forget that Val Brembana is land of certified cheese like taleggio and the formai de mut... You must taste it, maybe accompanied with cold meats and polenta. “Casonsèi de la bergamasca” and the “Scarpinocc de Par”, stews, sweet polenta and osèi de la Bergamasca (made from pound cake and cream).

For mountain lovers Val Seriana is perfect for its trails and skiing, plus trekking and mountain biking for all levels. If instead you want to rest, we suggest Lake Endine, a nature oasis: lots of relaxing in the spas at Sant’Omobono or in Valle Imagna or Trescore.

To best organize your holiday, we suggest one of our agriturismi in the province of Bergamo.

5. Pavia

Ever heard of Lomellina? This area is full of water in the province of Pavia in Lombardy, and it’s the ideal location for discovering traditions, nature, and culture in one of Italy’s lesser-known provinces.

The province of Pavia extends to the Ticino and Po Rivers, and includes land of great charm plus many canals like the Lomellina, famous for its rice fields and waterways; and the Oltrepò with its many vineyards. The area extends up to Emilia Romagna, amidst forests and castles.

For an interesting itinerary visit Vigevano, a fortress from the Longobard period with its golden age under the reign of Ludovic the Moor; plus there is the Castello D’Agogna, which offers numerous cultural events. Don’t forget Cozzo and Robbio, but also Breme with its Abbazia di San Pietro, crypt and baptistery.

The province of Pavia is also a land of waterways: here you’ll find the Naviglio Pavese, which starts in Milan and travels across the Certosa di Pavia with its many water mills and lovely landscapes. Plus the Naviglio di Bereguardo, for canoeing lovers.

Don’t forget that the Oltrepò is the perfect destination for foodies, with its vineyards and lovely historic centers with medieval and ancient areas like Voghera and Varzi. Instead, from Varzi to Genoa you’ll find the ancient “salt way,” with its towns and castles.

If you’re interested in relaxing, we suggest the spas at Salice, Rivanazzano, and Miradolo. The rice from Lomellina is a kind of traditional food (visit the rice fields) along with wines from the Oltrepò. Also try the cold meats, duck salami, and bisson, a traditional dessert. 

To best organize your holiday, we suggest one of our agriturismi in the province of Pavia.

6. Roma

What more can be said about Rome … Maybe you’re already familiar with it? But if you’ve never been here, December could be the perfect time of year for a visit with the family.

Rome in December has a rich program of events but the most important is the market in piazza Navona which opens during the Immaculate Conception weekend. Children will be delighted by the vast selection of sweets, which are perfect stocking stuffers – according to Italian tradition – for the Epiphany on January 6.

For a stroll amidst the Christmas wonders of Rome, don’t forget Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia with its Christmas tree, plus Via del Corso, which in December is full of lights and festoons.
After leaving Rome, don’t miss the festivities at the Roman Castles. Today, these are surrounded by a regional park of approx. 10,000 hectares. A good part of the Roman Castles is full of history and rich in monuments: usually visitors can easily get lost among the villas, parks, archeological sites, churches, and a vast network of itineraries in this area.
By car you can easily reach Frascati and Ariccia for excellent food, Castel Gandolfo for history, and Marino!

Right near the capital, just one hour by car, you’ll find Subiaco, another unforgettable town perfect for December, also in the province of Rome. Subiaco is a gracious hamlet where you can easily get lost in the narrow alleys and Benedictine monasteries. If you have time, take a trip to Monte Livata where we suggest a stop with a stunning view of the panorama.

To best organize your holiday, we suggest one of our agriturismi in the province of Rome.

7. Bolzano

If you’re planning on visiting the province of Bolzano, then don’t forget two words: Christmas markets.
In the province of Bolzano you’ll find the best and loveliest markets in Italy. Many open the first Sunday in Advent and will last until January 6 … what a shame not to visit them.

Among the numerous towns to see, we suggest Bressanone, Brunico, Vipiteno, Merano and Bolzano: in addition to markets you’ll also enjoy the alleys, squares, and streets!
The Bressanone Christmas market is one of the biggest in Trentino Alto Adige and you can’t miss it in the month of December. Also, in Bressanone, on every Wednesday of the month, you can visit delightful Christmas workshops for kids, but every day you can take a ride on ponies. Bressanone is the perfect destination for the entire family.

The markets at Merano are famous for their variety: in fact, the stands range from local products like knitwear to sweets and organic foods. Merano has something for everyone!
Instead, Bolzano is a romantic destination: during the holidays you can visit the Christmas stands but also the historic centers with a romantic carriage ride starting from Piazza Walther.

Warning: Christmas markets are addictive! You’ll want to visit all of them. In order to do so, take your own car or go with friends or take a bus, leave early in the morning and go as far as you can, without stressing too much. It’ll be wonderful to visit towns decked out for the holidays, wander about the stands, listen to Christmas music, and surrender to the sweet smell of cinnamon, vin brulè, and traditional food.

Once the day ends, there’s no better way than spending the night in one of our agriturismi in the province of Bolzano with the family and eat the best of the best.

8. Cremona

Do you like mangers but can’t reach Greccio to see the oldest manger scene in the world? No problem, you can stop by the province of Cremona – if Northern Italy is part of your destination, with its important manger scene tradition.

In fact, every year this area offers the Castello Visconteo di Pandino which opens its doors to an interesting auteur manger exhibition. Then head to Vailate, where you’ll find a live manger scene with over 200 actors in costume.
Why not stop by Crema, with its life-size manger scene?

Instead, if you are looking for something different, we suggest Pizzighettone, which is the only town with its ancient walls still intact. The walls can be visited and present an impressive sequence of interior spaces, underground ways, and a lovely landscape. In town you can also visit the Torrione along the Adda River, the Torre Mozza, the Palazzo Comunale from the 1400s, and lots of ancient churches, including the one dedicated to San Bassiano.

To best organize your holiday, we suggest one of our agriturismi in the province of Cremona.

9. Aosta

The nature and landscape of the Valle d'Aosta become even more evocative in the month of December, covered in snow. We suggest you visit it thoroughly.

Start from Courmayeur, a famous ski location and departure point for the Monte Bianco. Don’t miss a climb to the highest mountain top in Europe... Beginning in 2015 you can reach 3500 m above sea level, and almost touch the top of the Monte Bianco, thanks to the SkyWay Monte Bianco, a special cableway! 
Then there’s Cogne, loved especially by mountain climbers and bikers, but also pleasant in the winter for its spectacular scenery and sports, especially skiing.

Can’t stand the cold? Don’t worry. In Valle d'Aosta there are lots of legendary spas. You’ll find them at Prè-Saint-Dieder, a gracious small town right near Courmayer. A whirlpool outdoors, heated and overlooking a snowy landscape. Interested?
Then stop by Les Combes, the city that for many years welcomed Pope John Paul in the summer, a place of peace and tranquility.
Like to visit the castles? Then don’t miss Aymavilles, Issogne, and Bardi. Instead, if you’re looking for fairy-tale scenery, try the Castello Fénis, a symbol of the region.

To best organize your holiday, we suggest one of our agriturismi in the province of Aosta.

10. Monza e Brianza

Now we’ve reached the final province on our list for the month of December. Once again, we’re in Lombardy, but this time between Milano, Como, and Lecco, in the province of Monza and Brianza. Ever been here? If you choose this area, you’ll find a land rich in itineraries amidst rivers, lakes, and historic villas.

Brianza boasts numerous villas to visit especially when the weather isn’t that great, when it rains or is cloudy and you feel like staying indoors in the warmth in places that are interesting from an artistic and architectural point of view. For example there are Villa Trivulzio, the 17th-century manor house Villa Paravicini and the Scaccabarozzi, the preferred holiday place for the Milanese nobility in the 1800s. Ready to take some photos?

If you’re feeling the need to relax with your partner and organize a romantic weekend, try the spas at Monticello where you’ll find refreshing water! Enjoy this magical moment and eliminate all tensions!

Choose from our agriturismi in the province of Monza and Brianza the one that’s more suited to your needs and book it! In December, you’ll be ready to leave and will have to think only of packing your luggage!

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