Andiamo !

Yet one more reason to visit Italy this spring : wonderfully tempting sale fares on most airlines.  Delta is just one example, offering $698 from New York to Venice or $638 to Rome, roundtrip.  Tickets must be purchased by January 11 and travel must begin by March 28, which is perfect for those interested in desirable early spring travels.

Reasons to visit now :

Saldi !  All retail stores in Italy offer major sales that start this month. These will go on for six to ten weeks.  Handmade photo albums at our favorite artisan paper store are reduced by 50%, and our favorite designer Florentine has reduced her divine knitted goods by 40%.  Ferragamo shoes are half priced, as are most boutique goods.

Low season hotel rates, which until Easter will be 20-40% less than in May.  The nicest luxury hotel on the Amalfi coast is priced as a four star in the winter, and offers the same marvelous views, private terraces on the lemon groves and extra personal attention from relaxed owners and staff.

Puntarelle and artichokes !  Italy’s two single best vegetables — more flavorful here than anywhere in the world — have their peak season from now through April.  Let us lead you to them !

No crowds.  No Vatican Museum lines, Venice to yourselves, beaches to stroll all alone (and generally mild weather, sunny days) all along the western coast, Pompeii with no crowds.  Any one of these is a reason in itself for a visit soon !

Easter in Florence. A perfect Eastertime colomba cake for breakfast, the fantastical Scoppio del Carro — a cart explodes festively in Piazza del Duomo, set off by a mechanical dove driven from the altar during High Mass in a quite magical mixture of Florentine madness and piety — with a leisurely countryside lunch at the nicest osteria in Tuscany.  Later, a magical walk through olive groves and down picturesque lanes back into Florence.

Villa rentals are priced at half or less of their peak season rate.

We will be here, on our ongoing research for Insider’s Italy.  Join us during these sylvan next months… before the peak season gets underway.  Visit www.insidersitaly.com

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