Highly recommend off season to these meccas of tourist destinations. We actually talked to some Italians including local school children on field trips! And logistics around big sites like Vatican were much less stressful although they still benefit from booking ahead. Restaurant reservations were not really needed. Weather in February was sunny and "warm" compared the North East. This is probably my 10th trip in the company of Rick's guide books and audio tours so a continued thank you for making travel easier and more interesting and more fun!
I have been to Italy a couple times (and Spain 3 times, and leave this week for Portugal) about this time of year and found it a wonderful time to travel. I do stick mostly to urban areas on these trips, but agree, restaurants much less crowded, museums are busy, but manageable, and just walking around is more pleasant. The weather typically has been 60's and some 70's, but very pleasant with Sun. Rain tends to be less than a comparable time in the Fall (October/November). This time, in Portugal, we will be hitting some of the smaller towns, and will be doing Carnival in Loule, so trying to do some things that highlight this time of year
Lucky you with the weather. We froze over New Years in Rome and it was was extremely crowded too.
Definitely. We went to Rome in February one year and it was great. Still crowded at the Vatican Museums and Colosseum but bearable. Other sights were not crowded at all. We made no restaurant reservations and had no trouble finding tables.
Best month to go - new exhibitions - no crowds - Some days, spring is showing its nose.
Sounds wonderful. Thanks for the information.