When is the best time to go to Italy?
The best time to go to Italy is Spring, April – June or Fall, September to October. To be honest, Italy is best at anytime of the year! With its varying landscape and weather conditions, Italy has activities and festivals throughout the year, ensuring there is something for everyone.
Italy’s landscape is vast and its weather conditions varies from one region to another. Northern Italy is absolutely stunning with snow-covered peaks of the Alps and the Dolomites, icy glaciers and fertile valleys. Their foothills are large with beautiful lakes such as Lake Garda and Lake Como. South of these picturesque views are huge areas of flat plains and rolling hills, crossed by rivers and streams. Perfect for growing grapes and olives. The far south, on Sardinia and Sicily, the landscape is rugged and mountainous. There are three volcanoes in Italy – Mount Vesuvius on the mainland, Mount Etna on Sicily, and the island volcano of Stromboli. You can find Italy at the following GPS code:
Latitude: 41° 17′ 32.86″ N
Longitude: 12° 34′ 25.00″ E
Map of Italy with its main cities
About this post on best time to go to Italy
When planning my visit to Italy last year, I came across lots of information and guides with much detail. Details are good. However, sometimes these were confusing, sometimes these prompted me to research further. These were time consuming. I decided to bring all of the information together and draw up a summary for me, which I now share with you. I am sharing the same information with you so you do not have to look any further on the best time to go to Italy when planning your vacation. Below, is a month-by-month guide in detail.
The month-by-month guide includes a general weather guide, both in temperature and rainfall to eight major cities and visitor destinations in Italy. This is to guide your clothing packing list as well as to experience the varying climate in Italy should you choose to visit a particular region at a certain time. There are guides to events and festivals which are popular and are in itself a visitor attraction. You might want to witness some of these events and festivals for an enriching experience of Italy. On the other hand, you might want to avoid these events and festivals altogether because crowd, regatta and festivals are not your cup of tea. Whatever you choose to do, whatever type of vacation you want to have, the information here will help you design your fabulous holiday your way.
Know before you go – detailed month-by-month guide to best time to go to Italy
Italy in Winter is a delight
Italy, in winter takes on a distinctive charm of its own. From snow-capped mountains and alpine ski runs to relaxed city breaks and a hint of Mediterranean sun, Italy in winter is a delight!
Winters make Italy’s cities an option for travel during January. Visitors are rewarded with quieter sights and far fewer tourists if they are willing to brave the cooler conditions.
As it is very much off season, some attractions will be closed or offering limited visiting hours
The month of February is fun, popular for festivals and events.
Events & Festivals
The highlight is Carnevale. Carnevale or Carnival as we know it in England or US, is Italy’s best loved and ancient of traditions. Celebrated across Italy for two weeks leading up to Lent. It is vibrant, pageants, masquerades and confetti, making it a huge party before Ash Wednesday. Every town, even the smallest, has its own Carnevale parade. Every village in Italy celebrates, every family cooks up a storm to honour this long-standing tradition of dancing, masquerading and feasting before the fasting and meditating of Lent.
The most well-known of these celebrations is the Venice Carnival. It is a two week celebration of masks, fancy dress and spirited parties, that sees throngs of costumed people pack the famous St Mark’s Square.
Pro tip: Venice in winter, January and February is crisp, cold and becomes mystical. With a little snow flurries, it is magical – perfect for photographers. Less crowd also means no jostling of gondolas in the waterways.
In Sicily, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento hosts an annual almond blossom festival with parades, shows and craft exhibits, as a welcome precursor to spring.
Pro tip: Sicily in winter, is pleasant all throughout. You can ditch winter thermals for lighter spring clothing. Head to the coastal town of Cefalu for a beautiful beach and medieval charm. If you are looking for something Christmassy, then head over to Termini Imerese, a half-an-hour car ride from Palermo. The town put up a nativity play in the streets where everyone is in the show. It is not to be missed kind of experience if you are visiting in December/early January.
Outside of carnival dates, prices tend to be cheaper in February. As in January, there shall be reduced opening hours and limited access to attractions in certain areas.
Planning a winter trip to Venice or Sicily?
Great! – Visit Venice Italy has released the dates for Venice Festival 2021 – 2023. You can use these dates as guide either to book flights and activities to experience the Carnevale or experience a winter in Venice outside of these dates for when flights and accommodation will be cheaper. Take note of the weather so you can pack as needed
Italy in spring sees everything come alive
Italy in spring sees the beginning of brighter weather, celebrations and along with it everything else comes alive.
March brings in a mixture of spells of sunshine and rain. While it is much colder in the beginning of the month, the temperature begins to rise as it approaches the official spring date of 21st March. Italy starts to come alive where hotels shut for winter open again for visitors and with celebrations for Easter sees the spike in visitor numbers.
Northern Italy in March may still see some winter weather, cold, rainy days and occasional snowstorm.
Events & Festivals
Festa della Donna, or International Women’s Day is celebrated nationwide on March 8th. To celebrate this day, men bring flowers, usually yellow mimosa to the women in their lives. There are often small local festivals to mark the event and restaurants have special Festa della meals on their menu.
Festa del Mandorlo in Fiori is held in Agrigento in Sicily. It is a delightful spring festival celebrating of all things almonds which includes culinary, artistic and cultural aspects. Usually held in the first week of March.
April is a beautiful time to visit Italy. Wildflowers bloom everywhere across the countryside. Temperatures are pleasant and comfortable, with the odd showers. The north can be much cooler with interchangeable weather. April also welcomes the beginning of visitor season as it is now open for business after winter closures.
Events and Festivals
Depending on when Easter falls, March and/or April sees a number of events taking place across the country. Most town and cities host their own Holy Week celebrations and processions. In Rome, the Holy Week is led by the Pope which includes a Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square and the Settimana Santa procession of the stations of the cross at the Colosseum. Both of these events attract large numbers of visitors.
Other events to take note of:
May is known as the month of the rose and is a beautiful time of the year to go to Italy. It is warm but not too hot. The attractions are busy but not quite the crowds of the summer visitors.
Events & Festivals
Giardino dell’Iris is a botanical garden specializing in the cultivation of iris flowers, symbol of Florence since 1251. It opens to the public (without charge) from May 2 to May 20.
Italy in summer means regattas and open air performances
As the peak season gets under way, high summer temperatures attract visitors to the beaches as well as the cities. Visitors can enjoy open air performances in cities like Verona and Rome.
Events & Festivals
The most impressive of events is the Festa della Sensa in Venice. and the Luminara di San Ranieri in Pisa.
On June 1st and 2nd, the Festa della Sensa is celebrated in Venice. An ancient tradition that marks the wedding of Venice to the Sea. It is a colourful, vibrant and joyous event. A huge regatta and traditional rowing races, culminating with a symbolic union with the mayor tossing a gold ring into the waters of Venice. It is celebrated on Ascension day and is a national holiday.
On June 16th, the Luminara di San Ranieri is celebrated in Pisa. Pisa by Candlelight takes place in the evening, the eve of patron saint, San Ranieri, feast day. The bigger celebration, Regatta di San Ranieri takes place on the actual feast day, on 17th June, in late afternoon. The tradition of lighting the city with candles dates back to 1688. Over 70,000 candles are lit along River Arno and the Lungarno comes alive, wearing its best flickering dress made of candle wax. The evening culminates in a dramatic firework display.
In June, the summer opera season at the amphitheatre in Verona begins along with the Estate Romana programme of events in Rome.
With summer dry days, schools and universities breaking for summer, and soaring temperatures sees the soaring number of visitors to Italy. This is the most expensive time of the year and a getaway needs to planned and booked well in advance.
August is typically the hottest month with high humidity in many parts of the country. This is the main reason for Italians to treat this as their vacation month and head to the beach.
Events & Festivals
On August 15th, Italy celebrates Ferragosto, also known as Assumption Day, It is a national holiday, so some shops, restaurants and museums will be closed on this day.
On August 16th, the second of Palio di Siena takes place. Boasting centuries old origins, Palio di Siena is Italy’s most famous historical horse race. It takes place twice a year at Piazza del Campo, the main medieval square in Siena. The first is held on July 2nd.
Open air performances and concerts take place in areas like Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, and in Sicily’s Greek theatres in Syracuse and Taormina.
Verona’s Opera Festival continues through August and early September. Venice International Film Festival starts at the end of August and continues into September.
Pro tip: Italy in August. Every beach in Italy is packed in August, and every hotel near a beach is at full capacity. If you are planning a beach holiday in Italy, you need to book well in advance.
Italy in autumn is harvest time and colourful autumn foliage
As September comes around, the temperature drops slightly but still very warm during the day. Nights are cooler. Less crowd as summer visitors have returned home. Italians are now back at work and schools are back. For most part of September, Italy experiences a summer weather still perfect for a swim in the coast. It is towards the end of the month when fall weather creeps in.
Events & Festivals
September is the beginning of harvest season in Italy which means there are festivals throughout the month all over the country. The most popular ones are:
Regatta Storia takes place in Venice on the first Sunday in September and is the most famous in this month. This historic boat race has been practised for thousands of years and still uses gondolas from 16th century. Another vibrant festival where gondoliers are in traditional dress and plenty of waterborne pageantry.
International Film Festival takes place in Venice. It is considered one of the world’s top three film festivals alongside the Berlin International Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Visitors will be treated to art exhibits, dance performances, movies, theater, and architecture exhibitions.
Juliet’s Birthday is celebrated in Verona on September 12th. Visitors can enjoy dancing parades, costumes and street entertainment. The atmosphere is said to be especially romantic for couples.
La Vendemmia, the grape harvest begins toward the end of September.
October sees the last of the summer heat and plenty of regional harvest and food festivals to enjoy. Often considered a “shoulder season”, is now increasingly popular with visitors who come to enjoy the many harvest festivals held throughout the month and the brightly coloured leaves of autumn.
Events & Festivals
Most popular are chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles along with grape and olive harvests.
Truffle festivals & fairs in Italy take place in the Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, and Emilia Romagna regions during October and November.
Boccaccesca in Certaldo Alto, Tuscany,takes place in early October. It is an annual gastronomic fair featuring food stalls and regional wines where you can sample and buy some of Tuscany’s best like Chianti Classico or Brunello of Montalcino.
Pro tip: Certaldo Alto is just a 30-minute drive from Florence. It makes a perfect day trip if you want to see a little of the countryside and enjoy the colours of Fall foliage in Tuscany.
Barcolana Regatta in Trieste is a historic event and is one of the biggest boating events in the world. It takes place on the second Sunday of October. This international Regatta over 2000 sailing vessels converge in the Adriatic Sea for a spectacular event culminating in illuminated boat parades at night
Italy in early winter is all about roasted chestnuts, truffles and Christmas
November is all about chestnuts, truffles and mushrooms! It is also a wonderful time to travel to Italy but it is the rainiest as well. The milder Mediterranean winters make Italy an attractive option to travel with much warmer temperatures in the south. The cities and attraction sights are much quieter. As it is off-season, many hotels outside the major cities are closed and hiking trails in areas like Cinque Terre are closed to reopen at Easter.
Events & Festivals
Alba White Truffle Festival in San Miniato, Tuscany is held on the second, third and fourth weekends of November. It is one of the biggest truffle events in the country. Wide range of of truffles including the highly-coveted and most expensive truffle, Tartufo Bianco, is featured here. [Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco D’Alba}
Crastatone in Piancastagnaio, in the Province of Siena, is one of the oldest and most important chestnut festivals. It is celebrated from end of October through early November, to mark the end of chestnut harvest and the arrival of winter. Enjoy chestnuts in more ways than one at this festival – roasted, boiled, and dried, and don’t miss the special fall menus at regional restaurants, which highlight truffles, chestnuts, and wild mushrooms.
La Festa della Salute in Venice is on November 21st to commemorate the City’s deliverance from the plague in 1621.
Though Italy is quieter in winter, it is no less beautiful. With lesser crowd, its a perfect opportunity to explore the cities at a slower pace.
Events & Festivals
Events and festivals in December revolve around Christmas. From the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, Christmas Eve on December 24th, Christmas Day on December 25th, and Saint Stephen’s Day on December 26th right through to December 31st, where New Year’s Eve is celebrated with fireworks displays all throughout Italy.
Florence Noel is a family event that takes place in Montecatini Terme, northeast of Florence, Tuscany. This annual tradition starts at the end of November and runs through to early January. featuring a nativity village, food and chocolate sampling.
Perugia Christmas Festival in Perugia, capital of Umbria takes place in the city’s historic 16th century fortress, La Rocca Paolina. Features food and crafts, runs from early December through to early January.
Festa di San Nicolo is a week long celebration held in Murano, Venice for the patron saint of glass blowers, San Nicolo on December 6th.
As you can tell, Italy is a perfect destination at anytime of the year. Whether your visit is in the cold winter, hot humid summer or in-between seasons, there is something for you to experience. The main consideration is to plan your travels well in advance so you do not pay an expensive flight, or pay double the price for accommodation or miss out on activities. Below, I share with you some of the resources I use when planning my travels:
Resources to use for planning and booking your vacation when it is the best time to go to Italy
Airlines and package holidays for when it is best time to go to Italy
When researching for the best value on airline pricing, do a thorough research. Airlines are competitive in their pricing and in what they offer their customers, so take a look at a few of them. In addition, most airlines now offer accommodation as part of a package which makes it much cheaper and beneficial to a customer.
If you are planning on a trip to the beach, like the Amalfi Coast, you may want a provider that specialises in holidays on the beach so you can access best choices at the best prices. If you are considering a quiet weekend getaway, you may want to spoil yourself with a luxury escape. Whatever type of vacation you intend, here are some choices for you to research upon:
Activities to explore in Italian Cities
Whether it is beach, city, countryside or luxury getaway, you may want to explore your surroundings and get some activities into your schedule. Here are some cities which you could explore.
Places to stay when it is best time to go to Italy
Generally, the following three resources are my go-to sites to select accommodation to suit my stay if I cannot find something suitable as a package. I hope it will help you in selecting what is suitable for you when you travel to Italy.
My thoughts on the best time to go to Italy
Without a doubt, Italy is a must visit country in Europe. There are so many highlights in this beautiful picturesque country – from the canals of Venice to the narrow cobblestone streets of Verona, snow-capped mountains of the Alps to the foothills with refreshing aquamarine waters of the lakes…and so much more. I don’t think there is any place quite like Italy.
What do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Italy? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
Happy exploring Italy!
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