I got an email from John and Ana recently, who are currently planning their European honeymoon, so I’m adding this to my Italy Q&A series. They wrote:
We’re planning for 3 weeks of February-March 2009 after Ambiente in Frankfurt which we’re attending. I know it’s winter but it’s the best time for us to go since we’ll be in Europe already. We don’t really like crowds anyway. But our friend who honeymooned last November said it was starting to flood in Venice that time, would you know if it’s flooding in Venice in February? And will it be raining heavily everywhere?
By the way, we’re planning on flying (or train) to Paris from Frankfurt then flying to Venice and afterwards taking the train to Florence then Rome then Naples (still looking for an open place to stay in Positano). Lastly, we’ll fly to Barcelona, spend a few days and go home to Asia.
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First of all, congrats on your upcoming wedding! And as for visiting Italy in February, I was just there this past February for a couple of weeks and found it really wonderful. In Venice in particular it was extremely cold, though, so just be sure you’re bringing a warm coat – and probably an umbrella, too. During my recent trip to Venice in February, it didn’t rain all that much, but it was seriously foggy the whole time – so it wasn’t just cold, it was that kind of cuts-through-everything cold. My light windbreaker was definitely not enough to keep me warm!
You’re right in that the crowds will be significantly less in February – that was one of the perks of my trip (in addition to the prices on stuff like hotels in Venice being lower, which always helps!). I didn’t notice any flooding whatsoever when I was there; the only time I’ve seen flooding in Venice was during a late September visit several years ago (though I’ve never visited in the real winter months). I did just read about a new service providing SMS flood alerts for Venice, though, so if you’re planning to pick up a pay-as-you-go Italian mobile phone you can sign up to get those!
Will it be raining heavily everywhere in Italy? Well, it’s hard to say – chances are that it won’t be raining heavily everywhere, but you should be prepared with a little portable umbrella just in case. And when you check into each hotel, ask about the weather for the duration of your stay – if one day in particular is supposed to be really wet, plan your museum visits for that day (provided it isn’t a day that they’re closed!), for instance – and, on the other end, if only one day is looking like it’ll be clear, plan your outdoors excursions (if you have any) for that day.
Finally, I have to say that seven cities in a three-week trip is pretty ambitious if you ask me, especially considering the ground you’ll have to cover for many of the transfers. Paris to Venice is a long way, and even if you’re flying that’s at least a half-day taken up for traveling (same goes for Rome to Barcelona). So just remember to factor in those travel days so that you don’t wind up feeling like you’ve lost several days of your vacation!
On this site, do check out the pages for Venice, Florence, and Rome, as well as the ones about train travel in Italy and Italy weather. And may I also recommend my friend Chris’ Paris Travel Guide for that portion of your trip? Have a great time!