If you are going to travel to Italy off season, I think one of the best areas you can discover is the Italian Riviera.
Unless you are going to ski, Liguria is the only region in Northern Italy that allows you to enjoy many experiences also in off-season months.
Even from November to March, the Italian Riviera has usually a mild climate: temperatures rarely goes under 10 degrees, there are many sunny days and no fog at all even if, being on the seaside, wind is often blowing.
But what I prefer of the off season period is that you can discover the real essence of the Italian Riviera. This region is not only a tourist resort as many places on the French Riviera; it maintains his genuine, life, activities and people. Once the tourists have left, you can easily discover that the Italian Riviera has an authentic soul.
But, let’s see, practically speaking, which are the best things to enjoy travelling off-season in Liguria:
The mediterranean light
First of all the Mediterranean light: yes, in winter there are often winds from north cleaning the sky and making it incredibly bright. The mountains protect the coast from the wind and the temperatures are mild.
Everything is limpid and you can appreciate the vivid colors that made impressionists fall in love with these places.
Late autumn and winter are perfect periods to hike on the many coastal trails. Even in Cinque Terre there are not crowds, no hot temperatures and fantastic views of the shining sea.
Of course, you have to be flexible in your programs, because if it’s wet, many paths are closed. But remember that also Portofino Natural Park and the area around Finale Ligure are perfect places to take walks in winter.
Olive harvest is an absolutely unique and great experience. The best place to enjoy it is the area around Imperia in the Riviera dei Fiori where you’ll find the famous Taggiasca olive. The rolling hills are covered by olive trees, and farmers spreads nets for harvesting. December is the best month to taste the new extra-virgin olive oil just pressed with grindstone in one of the many oil mills.
Liguria still maintains its authenticity and you can find skilled craftsmen working. In summer is much more difficult to find them but, in low season, it’s more calm and you can take time to meet them and look at them working.
Of course, they are not a tourist attraction so you have to travel like a local to admire for example the skillful silk weavers in Zoagli or the producers of the typical hand-made chairs of Chiavari.
The Italian Riviera is spotted with quaint hamlets that in winter reveal their real soul. People is still living there and they are not only tourist resorts. You will find small local shops, farmers, fishermen and normal people living their daily life.
Of course some restaurant, hotel and tourist attraction could be closed and you have to go there with a contemplative spirit, not looking for music, discos or tourist entertainments.
Genoa it’s a beautiful, multilayer city where you can wander through medieval narrow alleys, the “caruggi” tasting local products in amazing old shops or visit noble palaces (the famous Rolli Palaces), beautiful churches and amazing museums. In winter there are shining days and it’s never too cold. You can take long walks up and down the hills overlooking the sea and, if it’s sunny, you can also find a sheltered corner where to sunbathe.
In a few words the Italian Riviera, with its mix of nature and culture is a perfect destination for a travel to Italy off-season, on condition that you like to travel like a local, going a little bit deeper under the “tourist” surface.