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Six unmistakable signs that spring has arrived in Italy

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Six unmistakable signs that spring has arrived in Italy
Wildflowers along the Amalfi Coast. Photo: Gene/Flickr
08:49 CET+01:00
March 20th is officially the first day of spring - but what does the new season typically bring to Italy? Expect to see delicious food at your local market, foreigners shedding layers of clothing while Italians merely reach for their sunglasses, and a healthy dose of quirky local festivals. Here are six tell-tale signs of an Italian spring.

1. The clothing

We're being deliberately vague here, because choice of springwear often depends on whether or not you're a native. Italians tend to dress for the season, not the weather, so late March means swapping black and navy for white and pastel hues, and shedding the winter coat, while holding off from raiding the summer wardrobe.

Among expat communities, Brits and others from cooler climes show no such restraint, often opting for sandals and shorts as soon as the temperatures reach double digits.

According to reader Rochelle Ferreri, you know spring has reached Italy "when us British expats start wearing flip flops... to the Italians' horror!"

Photo: Pexels

2. The animals

Plenty of readers said the sounds and sights of the animal kingdom were a tell-tale sign of Italian spring.

"The sound of hundreds of bees on our blossom tree," said Janice Mitchell, when we asked what were the surest signs of the new season's arrival.

"Battling against ticks on the dogs!" was another suggestion.

You can also expect to start seeing wall lizards - the small reptiles that come out of hibernation around this time of year and love to sun themselves in gardens, rocks, and Roman ruins. And look out for birds and baby farm animals too!


Photo: Andrew and Annemarie/Flickr

3. The flowers

If you visit Italy in the spring months, you'll see it in full bloom. Take a trip to your local garden, park, or flower market to take in the colours and scents of spring, from bluebells to crocuses, poppies to magnolia.

But there's no need to feel left out if you live in a city either. Most of Italy's urban centres can boast plenty of green space - which in the springtime turns red, yellow, pink and blue with wildflowers.

In Rome, the Spanish Steps in the very centre of the city are adorned with pink azaleas for one month each spring (not to mention the capital's Orange Garden and Rose Garden, both well worth visiting). And this year, for the first time, a huge tulip field has been opened just outside Milan, where you can pick the flowers for yourself.


Photo: Pedro/Flickr

4. The food

Watch out for the three 'a's of springtime cuisine: Artichokes, asparagus, and agnello (spring lamb - OK, we've cheated a bit using the Italian for that one). Each can be prepared a myriad of ways, with every restaurant and nonna swearing that theirs is the best, so try as many varieties as possible.

And perhaps most excitingly, after a winter of hibernation, the gelato shops start opening up once again.


Photo: Tim Sackton/Flickr

READ MORE: Six springtime foods you simply have to taste in Rome

5. The festivals

Carnival may be over, but there are plenty more opportunities to celebrate up and down the country. In April there's the anniversary of the founding of Rome, then Liberation Day on the 25th, and not forgetting the Easter weekend - what's more, most towns and villages will have their own traditional feste too.

For those who were disappointed at the lack of fuss over Valentine's Day, you could always check out the Festa di San Marco in Venice on April 25th. It's also called the Blooming Rose Festival and is known as a day to celebrate love and romance.

And then there are the quirky options to look out for: what about heading to the Snake-Handlers' Festival on the first Thursday of May in Abruzzo, or the annual Frog Race just after Easter in Le Marche? 

Photo: Christiano Cani/Flickr

6. The weather

The arrival of spring means more daylight, warmer weather, and less rainfall. Time for long evening strolls, outdoor dining, and perhaps even a swim if you live by the water.

It's also the perfect season to visit the country's lakes and beaches - just before the hordes of tourists descend, but while the locals still think it's too cold for sunbathing.

But be warned - Italian weather can be variable and spring still sees rain and even snow, so you might want to take your umbrella out as well as your sunglasses.


Photo: Jacopo/Flickr
 

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