It is the steely gray that whispers across the sky and chills the air. It is the smell of chimney smoke permeating the atmosphere and the purple night rising hastily like a curtain over the last vestiges of afternoon light. Winter is the unappreciated albeit equally beautiful sister of Summer, and to miss out on her charms is to see the world through a pinhole. As we steadily navigate through the amber glow of fall, let us take a moment to envision all the magic that winter has in store.
Winter is the perfect season to explore the Europe you’ve always dreamt of, but have yet to see due to frightening visions of maddening crowds and throngs of shade seeking tourists. Fear not! Grab your warmest coat and gloves and prepare to be delighted by the beauty of a European winter.
Turin and the Alps
To say that Turin is magical during wintertime would be a gross understatement. A city much revered for its energy, industry and architecture, winter seems to bring out Turin’s most romantic undertones. The smell of roasted chestnuts wafts through the city’s endless colonnades as the golden glow of local shops warms passersby. Shoppers cling to their newly purchased treasure boxes of gianduja chocolates and other dreamy confections, while festive lights glimmer colorfully overhead. When the frosty air begins to nip at your nose, find refuge in a turn-of-the-century cafe where the steam of frothy bicherins (chocolate crème and coffee) will put the rose back in your cheeks.
If you are looking for a bit of recreation, head out of the city for a day to experience the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics skiing competition. The Alps of Alta Val Susa are famous for their world-class slopes, particularly in the towns of Bardonecchia and Vialette. Perhaps some welcome relaxation after a day spent out on the mountain? Stay warm while you enjoy one of the many intimate alpine wellness centers, inviting wine bars and cozy restaurants that dot the area. Take in the snow-capped landscape that surrounds you as you dine on a local dish of roasted wild game.
In winter, Le Marche’s stunningly beautiful Monti Sibillini rise like giant amethysts from the snow-dusted hills and valleys below. A sight guaranteed to leave you breathless. Spend time journeying through frosty mountain trails and crystal crowned chestnut groves, as you come across hidden abbeys and mountaintop monasteries filled with ancient frescoes. Paintings from renowned artists like Crivelli and Perugino are housed within the confines of these majestic havens. Stop off the trail for a satisfying meal of cured meats and artisanal cheeses infused with truffle at an osteria tucked-away in the forest, and lovingly owned by local mountain folk. Horseback riding is a unique departure from walking for those interested in exploring Monti Sibillini’s national park and natural preserve.
After a long day enjoying the crisp winter air, warm your senses with a massage or signature sulfur treatment at one of the many thermal springs that the mountain range is famous for.
About the author
Dejou Marano is Co-Founder of CountryBred and Founding Editor of The Bred Blog. Splitting her time between Los Angeles and Europe, Dejou seeks to bring the imagination and wonder of Europe to all travelers through her never-ending pursuit of undiscovered cultural gems and experiences, which she shares through her travel writing.