I may have an unexpected opportunity for a week or so in Italy in February. I'm wondering where you'd choose to go? I'm more interested in art, religion, and architecture than food or wine. I've been to Rome in Jan/Feb and may return there, but I'd be interested in other recommendations. At more temperate times of the year I've spent periods in Florence, Siena, various towns in Umbria, Ravenna, Venice, Milan, Orvieto, and the Gargano peninsula. One other thing: I'm a real wimp about ice/snow --- absolutely unable to walk in it. Any suggestions? And any idea whether I'd have to deal with ice/snow if I went back to Florence or visited Monte Cassino? Thanks for any suggestions
Snow in Florence in February is possible but, at only 150 ft above sea level, it's a rare event and, when it happens, it doesn't stick to the ground for too long. However, if you absolutely don't want to take any chances, I suggest you go South. Southern Italy has the same climate as Central and Northern California. But we both know that occasionally it snows on Mount Hamilton or on the Santa cruz mountains, therefore avoid high altitudes. From what I read it doesn't look like you've been to Naples and surrounding areas yet. Sicily is another candidate for mild weather and plenty of art and history.
Sicily is a good idea, between Palermo and Cefalu (with a side trip to Monreale from Palermo, although Monreale is on a hill), you'll find three of the most beautiful images of Christ Pantocrator in the world, all from the same time period. Siracusa's cathedral is built on top of a temple to Athena.
If you're interested in art, religion and architecture I would recomend Vicenza and Padova which, together, would satisfy all three. Vicenza especially is world famous for its Palladian architecture. However, it gets cold and sometimes snows here that time of year.
Thank you for the suggestions! Padua may be a little chilly for me, but those apse mosaics in Sicily have been on my list for some time. Sicily scares me a little... probably for no valid reason. How easy is it to get around without a car, traveling alone? And I'm wondering what city I'd first fly (or train) into as a starting point? Is Palermo the typical starting point?
Sherry, I've traveled alone in Sicily for thirty years, using public transportation. Once or twice I've met up with friends and rented a car, but mostly I've been on my own and had a great time. I know you've traveled quite a bit, and Sicily is no different (just a little slower traveling time) than anyplace else in terms of safety. You might also want to see Segesta, which is near Palermo, but it's in the mountains and may be chilly (I empathize with being a weather-wimp, I lived in Miami, Las Vegas and Rome most of my life). Go and enjoy the great mix of history and culture, art and religion, and food. Normal travel precautions will be sufficient.
Never visited the Marche? terribly beautiful region. Places to visit include Urbino, birthplace of Raphael, Pesaro, Fano, city with many monuments from the time of Augustus, Gradara, with its beautiful castle, Osimo with its beautiful churches. The weather in February, especially in cities near the coast should be mild.