With family celebrations taking up the winter holidays and the summer a perennial struggle to mesh everyone’s schedules, spring break in Italy can be a great alternative. Schools generally close at least once between March and April, and stay closed for a week (or slightly longer, if you count two weekends); flights are often cheaper during these shoulder-season months; there is more availability for hotels; and guides are fresh and rested after a quiet winter.
There are a few caveats to spending spring break in Italy, of course—unpredictable weather makes packing a bit of a guessing game and some very summer-focused destinations will still be mostly shuttered—but overall the first weeks of spring before the May rush begins are an excellent time of year to visit Italy. Here are five of the best spring break in Italy ideas for March or April!
Italy is thick with ancient ruins, which are fun to visit for everyone, but especially for history buffs or families with school-aged kids who are studying ancient Rome. These remains are almost completely outdoors, so visiting in the torrid summer heat is a chore. In the spring, you may have to dodge a few raindrops, but the temperatures will be cooler and you won’t be spending your entire visit under the scorching sun.
If you only have time for a short spring break in Italy, make Rome your base. In addition to the blockbuster Colosseum, the city is thick with ancient wonders from Nero’s “Golden Palace” (which offers a fun VR tour) to the catacombs along the Appian Way, fun to explore with an e-bike tour. For a longer trip, consider Sicily. Taormina and Syracuse both have spectacular ancient sites to explore plus there are the striking temples near Agrigento, Segesta, and Selinunte.
Be sure to visit Italy’s ancient ruins with an archaeologist guide (private tours are best so you can tailor the pace and level to your family) for fascinating insights into the often complex sites.
Climate change has brought shifting seasons, and many of Italy’s alpine ski resorts have reliable snowfall into mid-April. Skip the Rockies this year, hop across the Atlantic, take on the UNESCO-listed Dolomites, and end your winter with a bang. You can fly into Milan or Venice and be on slopes less than two hours later, and there’s no reason to pack cumbersome gear since Italian resort towns are well organized for renting anything you may need.
If you fly into Venice, the chic ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the closest spot for unforgettable runs and an equally remarkable apres-ski scene; families with younger kids may want to opt for the relaxed resort area of Arabba or smaller San Vito di Cadore.
From Milan, Bormio is a must for expert, passionate skiers; the downhill World Cup races are held on these slopes each year. For beginners, families, or simply travelers who don’t want to drive for more than three hours, the closer resorts in the Val d’Aosta at the foot of Mont Blanc on the French border or Chiesa Valmalenco in the province of Sondrio are excellent alternatives.
Most of Italy’s seaside resort towns shutter almost completely from November to Easter, so places like Positano and Portofino are difficult to use as a home base with hotels and restaurants closed. That said, we have had clients looking for a seaside break (more for the views than for swimming, of course) in March and April and we have been able to find wonderful rooms and book unforgettable meals even in the quietest of towns.
If you want to soak in a bit of coastal “dolce vita” in the shoulder season without feeling like you’re in a ghost town, Sorrento is a solid compromise. This Grand Tour stop is large enough to feel lively even in the off-season, and though the big Grands Dames hotels are closed, there are plenty of smaller boutique hotels and B&Bs that stay open all year round.
From Sorrento, you can take day trips to the Amalfi Coast (a driver is the way to go since the local ferries don’t begin to run until later in the spring) and Capri (keep your eye on the weather forecast since ferries are canceled when seas are rough), visit Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, explore Naples, and even hike some coastal trails if the weather is clear.
Venice is a perennial favorite, and March and April offer a chance to see the Floating City both in cheerful sunshine and under a romantic shower. But rather than stay in Venice for your entire spring break, set off after a few days to explore the handsome towns and villas of the Veneto region.
Explore Verona, home to a spectacular Roman arena and charming old town which was the setting of Shakespeare’s tale of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Then spend a night in beautiful Padua to take in Giotto’s frescos in the Scrovegni Chapel and browse its bustling morning market, one of the best in Italy. And don’t skip Vicenza, famous for its stellar architectural works by Palladio.
You can also visit the elegant Palladian Villas along the Brenta River (we suggest booking a day trip with a guide and driver to help with the tricky logistics and access villas closed to the general public) or head slightly north to the charming towns of Asolo and Bassano del Grappa, where Italy’s traditional spirit is distilled. With its mix of small and large towns, indoor and outdoor sights, and art and cuisine, there’s something for every member of your family in the Veneto region.
Emilia-Romagna is a foodie mecca, home to iconic Italian specialties like Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena…as well as rich egg pasta and cold cuts from Bologna, bubbly Lambrusco wine from Reggio Emilia, and more. The winter cold and summer heat make is a challenge to visit the outlying producers, but mild spring temperatures are ideal for farm visits and generous tastings.
In addition to fabulous food, this area is famous for its sports car producers: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati all have factories and museums here that are fascinating to visit even for the non-car enthusiasts in your family. Real gearheads can arrange for test drives on the road or track and F1 simulator sessions (great for kids).
The cities themselves are also delightful to explore, lively with more locals (and university students) than tourists and crisscrossed by miles of portico-covered walkways for easy sightseeing and shopping even in spring showers.
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