The best time to visit Italy really depends on what you want to see, do, and experience. While the summer heat can be great for a beach holiday, a winter visit can be fantastic for hot springs and skiing. Plus, there are always events and festivals going on throughout the country. Aside from sightseeing, there are a whole host of other things you may want to do during your time in Italy.
From road trips on the Amalfi Coast to grape harvests, wine tasting, and holidays, Italy can offer an entirely different experience from season to season. Not sure when to visit? Here’s a guide that explains the weather, events, and holidays. This way, you’ll know exactly when to visit according to what you want to see and do.
The Weather in Italy by Season
Spring: Spring is considered to be the best time to visit Italy. By visiting in Spring, you can avoid the scorching summer heat, and enjoy more mild temperatures as you travel around. The beginning of Spring can have cool temperatures, lots of rain, and the occasional snowfall depending on where you are. The end of Spring can get quite hot, making it possible to go for a swim (especially in the south.) There are quite a few festivals like Easter, and the Italian Flower Arts Festival. Since the countryside is coming alive, Spring is a great time for hiking, viewing wildlife, and enjoying flowers. And, if you’re a bit of a foodie, Spring is the best time to eat asparagus and artichokes.
Summer: Summertime in Italy is notoriously hot and humid. If you’re in it for the beach, summer will be a great time to pack your bags and head to Italy. During summer, you’ll want to plan your outdoor activities early in the morning. This way, you can avoid the hottest parts of the day. Definitely wear sunscreen, a hat, and breathable, comfortable clothing. If you really want to beat the heat, choose northern Italy over the southern region. It will still be hot, but temperatures may be slightly cooler. You’ll also find a variety of festivals going on during the summer. From historical and religious to music and food-fueled, you’ll be sure to find a festival you like.
Autumn: This is a great time to visit Italy. The weather isn’t scorching hot like in summer, but the temperatures haven’t totally dropped off. September doesn’t really count as Autumn in this country, as its usually just as hot as August. October is prime time Autumn, when the cool weather is setting in to stay. This might be the most ideal month during this time of year. Come November, Italy sees more rain then it does all year. Keep in mind that northern Italy will usually have cooler temperatures than the middle or the southern regions.
Winter: You’ll probably experience a range of weather in Italy during winter. The temperatures can be mild along the coast of Sicily, Sardinia, and the mainland of the south. When you travel inland, or up north, the weather can get much colder and snowy, especially close to the Alps. During winter, snow can dust even the popular destinations like Venice, Umbria, Tuscany, Florence, and the hill towns. And, if you visit in December, you have a chance of seeing snow and rain, as it’s the second rainiest month of the year.
Tourist Seasons in Italy
There are three tourist seasons in Italy to keep in mind. Each season has its pros and cons of visiting, so it depends on the kind of experience you’re hoping to have. Weather, crowds, prices, and outdoor activities can vary depending on these three seasons.
High Season: The high season in Italy typically means summer. While other seasons can be busy, summer sees the most tourists. The high season of summer usually starts in May, and lasts for June, July, (skips August because it’s so hot,) and all of September. Another reason these months are so popular is because of the festivals. There’s Easter, Carnival in Venice, the White Truffle Festival, and the EuroChocolate Festival. Summer is a great time to visit because the majority of the attractions are open, there are great events, and the weather is warm without much rain. However, visiting during the high season can have some downsides. You’ll have to deal with massive crowds, long lines, and higher than normal prices for nearly everything.
Low Season: The low season in Italy is essentially winter. It starts around the end of November and typically lasts until the end of February. There are a few tourist spikes around Christmas and New years, but most people tend to stay out of Italy during the winter months. However, wintertime can be a great time to visit Italy if you’re into snow sports. Northern Italy, near the Alps, is a hot spot for skiing and snowboarding. The country is also dotted with natural hot springs that are best enjoyed during the winter months. This is an ideal time for winter sports fans to visit, as prices tend to be lower than usual.
Shoulder Seasons: Spring and Autumn used to be shoulder seasons. However, tourists have found out about how great the weather is, making these times of year more crowded. Seasoned, Italy travellers believe that Spring is the one, true shoulder season left. March and April are the best times to visit for the shoulder season. Late October and November are considered shoulder seasons too, and can be nice to visit depending on the weather and your location. And, since August is the time of year that most Italians go on holiday, you may see smaller crowds this month.
Events in Italy by Month
January: New Year’s Eve is one of the main events happening in Italy during January. One of the most popular traditions occurs at the Venice Lido beaches. Although the weather is cold, locals jump into the chilly water, ringing in the new year with a chill. Epiphany is a national holiday that is the most important of the month. The night before this event, children hang stockings, waiting for La Befana to deliver them candy and treats. If you visit during this time, you’ll see plenty of decorations, festivities, and live Nativity scenes. Many shops and tourist attractions will be closed during this time so keep that in mind.
February: Carneval is one of Italy’s most famous events, and it takes place in February. Actually, the date changes by year, but it usually occurs 40 days before Easter. Festivities happen all around the country, but Viareggio and Venice have the most famous events. Visitors tend to flock to Venice during this event, as both locals and tourists will be adorned in elaborate masks and costumes. It may be difficult to find accommodation during this festival, so make sure to book early. Foodies might want to visit in February to attend the Olive and Bruschetta Festival in Spello. There’s a farmer’s parade, lots of dancing, and of course, tons of food.
March: Depending on the year, Easter falls in March. If you happen to visit during this time, expect lots of festivities. Good Friday is when the Pope celebrates the Stations of The Cross in Rome. Easter Mass will take place at every Italian church, but the most famous of these events happen at St. Peter’s Basilica. If you’d like to get tickets to the mass, make sure to order them at least three months in advance. If you’re visiting during this time of year, you’ll see processions and parades happening all over the country. On Easter Monday, many places around Italy will have free concerts, outdoor games, and plenty of food.
April: April 21st is the Rome’s birthday! If you happen to be visiting during this week, you’ll be in for plenty of activities. There will be concerts, festivals, and gladiator shows in the historic areas. Expect lots of commotion, especially from the locals who are eager to celebrate their culture and history. On April 25th, celebrate the Festival of San Marco. He was the patron saint of Venice, and he’s celebrated annually in Saint Mark’s Square. Stand by to watch the parade, and make sure to give a rose to someone you love.
May: If you’re visiting in May, expect a huge lineup of festivals all over the country. Visit the Daffodil Festival in the town of Rocca di Mezzo, where there will be a parade, lots of dancing, and colourful flowers. Make an appearance at the medieval jousting tournament and parade in the town of Grazzano Visconti. And, attend the Risotto Festival in Piedmont, celebrating the delicious, Italian rice dish that was invented in the 13th century. And, if you love wine, make sure to celebrate the Chianti Wine Festival in Tuscany, which takes place on the last Sunday in May.
June: June second is when Italy celebrates Republic Day. Festivities are happening all over the country, but the largest ones are in Rome. Make sure to book accommodation well ahead of time, because things get booked up fast. If you stick around Rome, you’ll see a giant parade and an aerial show by the Italian Air Force.
If you’re into art, make sure to stop by the Tuscan Sun Festival. It’s a gathering of top artists and musicians, who are celebrating culture and beauty in the Tuscan countryside. Expect lots of art, music, food, and wine. There will be art exhibitions, cooking demonstrations, and locally made crafts.
July: During the first week of July, the town of Brisghella puts on a medieval festival. The 13th-century town, and its historic castle makes a great location for the event. There’s also a medieval festival in Terzieri, the Festa della Madonna, where a giant float of Madonna Bruna is torn apart and burned, followed by a fireworks display. And, Giostra della Quintana, a lively jousting match in the town of Foligno in Umbria.
August: August 15th marks the Ferragosto, the peak of summer when many locals go on holiday. There will be fireworks and elaborate celebrations, but keep in mind that many businesses and attractions might close during this time. Check out La Quintana, a jousting tournament taking place on the first Sunday in August. There’s also Palio del Golfo, a rowing race on the first Sunday in August in La Spezia. August is when you’ll find music festivals like Estate Romana, Verona’s summer opera, and Venice International Film Festival.
September: Visit during the first week in September for Regatta Storica in Venice. The boat race takes place on the first Sunday, and after the races, there’s a massive parade. Film lovers can check out the Venice International Film Festival, and music lovers can join in on the MITO International Music Festival.
October: October is a great time to visit if you love everything and anything food and wine. Start off at the White Truffle Festival in Alba, Piedmont. It’s one of the largest truffle festivals in Italy, and even has a donkey race to watch. Enjoy classic wines like Brunello of Montalcino and Chianti Classico at the Boccaccesca fair during the first two weekends of October. There’s the chocolate festival, EuroChocolate in Perugia in mid-October, and the Rome Film Festival too.
November: November is a great month to check out the truffle festivals. One of the best ones to visit is the Alba Truffle Festival, located in Piedmont. There will be plenty of opportunities to eat, learn, and even go truffle hunting yourself. All Saints Day, celebrated on November 1st, is a national holiday that causes many shops to close. However, if you’re visiting on this day, you can expect many of the tourist attractions and museums to stay open. And, if you happen to be visiting during the last weekend of November, check out the Oberdrauburg Christmas Festival that takes place in the town of Signa. This is a great place to stock up on Christmas gifts to take home for the holidays.
December: Love holiday festivities? Then December is a great time to visit Italy. Check out the Wild Boar Festival in the Tuscan town of Suvereto, for tons of feasting and wine. There’s the Perugia Christmas Festival which runs for most of the month, and throughout the country, you’ll be able to find Christmas-based church masses. Check out our guide to visiting Rome during Christmas.
No matter what the season, staying in Italy will be an incredible experience. Whether you want to check out a wine festival, wander the Christmas markets, or take a road trip along the coast, there’s a perfect season for it. Get in touch with us today to book the perfect accommodation for your stay.