Cesarea Terme, Apulia. Note the Islamic influence.
Donít think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian winter vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes skiing and other winter sports. Italian winter holidays have several advantages: You wonít fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own winter festivals. When we say winter, we mean November to February; spring comes early in Italy. Donít look here for information about Italyís marvelous Carnivale; we are planning a separate series covering regional Carnivale celebrations. Talk about planning; start organizing your Italian winter holidays now. Keep reading.
The Mezzogiorno (midday) refers to Italyís southernmost mainland regions. If we consider Italy to be a boot Apulia on the Adriatic Sea forms the heel, Basilicata with small coastlines on the Gulf of Taranto and the Tyrrhenian Sea forms the instep, and Calabria large coastlines on the Gulf of Taranto, the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the Ionian Sea forms the toe. These regions tend to be quite traditional and donít get all that many tourists. So much the better for you. Because they are far south winter tends to be rather mild, but I wonít tell you that you can sip a drink in an outdoor cafť for hours in mid-January. But you still can enjoy yourself, whether or not you are into winter sports. San Cesarea Terme, Apulia is a seaside town on the rocky coast of the Ionian Sea. It boasts unique Islamic architecture and every November holds a Historical Regatta.
Can you believe this is Italy's deep south, Mezzogiorno?
December in Italy means Living Nativity Scenes. The Mezzogiorno is no exception. Some of the most interesting are found in Celico (Calabria), Paterno (Basilicata), and Pezze di Greco (Apulia). Be sure to check the dates, the Pezze exposition extends into January. Lecce, Apulia hosts an antique market called Fiera dei presepi e dei pupi. Youíll find hand crafted nativity figures and a lot more for about ten days extending to December 24. Other December events include Saint's Day Festivities in Diamante (Calabria), the Papier-machť Fair in San Cesarea Terme (Apulia), and the Pettole Festival in Montescaglioso (Basilicata.)
January is quite filled with festivals in this part of the world. A Palio is a horse race that pits neighborhoods against one another. Pignola, Basilicata hosts the Palio of S. Antonio Abate in mid-January. Villa d'Agri, Basilicata celebrates Befana Canterina. If you remember, Befana is an old woman dressed as a witch who gives sweets to the good kiddies and coal to the bad ones. In mid-January Rotondella, Basilicata hosts the Feast of SantíAntonio Abate and Feast of Fire Festival on the following day. Corigliano Calabro hosts the Calabria Orange Festival and Procession.
Donít think that February is quiet in the Mezzogiorno. This is Carnivale time discussed elsewhere. On the third of the month the town of Tortora, Calabria holds a feast to honor its patron Saint, San Biagio. Rapolla, Basilicata celebrates the Feast of Candelora on February 2 and the Feast of San Biagio on the following day. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Mezzogiorno wines including Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata and Greco di Bianco from Calabria.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Winter events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in the Mezzogiorno (Apulia, Basilicata, and Calabria Italy)