Guidebook Try to go off-season to avoid the summer crush

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Try to go off-season to avoid the summer crush

“La Serenissima in winter is deserted, quiet, and, yes, serene,” says Krisanne Fordham at Fodors. “If the mist-shrouded canals and melancholy romance aren’t enough of a draw, rooms at luxe hotels like The Gritti Palace and the Baglioni Hotel Luna are available for a fraction of their high-season rates, while landmarks like Saint Mark’s Basilica sit blissfully empty.” And when the tourists depart, writes Jo Rodgers in Vogue, “Venetians in fur coats and hats reclaim their piazzas, their churches, and the good tables (on the ground floor) at Harry’s Bar … fog rolls over the islands, and shoppers -- carrying bags of chestnuts or pears with stems in red wax -- pause to watch the gondoliers guide their narrow boats out of the mist.” As she says, “the city is at ease,” and the “twilit walkways, now the province of unhurried locals and their dogs, are a world apart from the bright roar of July.”

Here are some really good reasons to visit Venice in winter, from Italy Heaven:  

No crowds: “You'll find residents outnumbering visitors, lanes which you can stroll along without queueing, and a low-key 'local' feel to the city … most of the tourists in town are overnight visitors, spread more evenly through the city, and with more of a feel for how to behave.”  

Cheap accommodation: “In winter, places to stay outnumber visitors … so you'll find good value as businesses compete for custom.”  

Cheap flights: “Prices are at their lowest, and you can usually still find cheap flights at short notice.”  

It might snow: “There will probably be a few snowy days each winter, and although snow doesn't usually settle for long, while the snowflakes are falling, Venice is magical.”  

Hot chocolate: “Casanova swore by it, and rich Venetian hot chocolate is one of the great pleasures of the winter.”  

Frittelle, panettone and other delights: “Unlike the sweltering days of summer, when eating becomes an effort, winter is ideal for tucking into hearty lunches of risotto or pasta accompanied by local wine … before Christmas the bakeries are full of speciality Italian cakes …”

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