Italy is very diverse when it comes to its climate and geography, which means there’s really no bad time to visit. It depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. To make the best decision, consider what it has to offer during every month of the year.
As January is in the middle of winter in Italy, this is the perfect time to enjoy the snowy slopes of the magnificent Dolomites for skiing. You’ll also find opportunities in the Appenines of central Italy. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly trip, January can be ideal, outside of ski resort areas in places like Rome and Venice, after the holidays. If you’ve ever dreamed of viewing Michelangelo’s remarkable work in the Sistine Chapel, this is definitely the time to come for a more tranquil experience.
While February is chilly, it’s also Carnival time, drawing countless visitors to Venice which does it bigger and better than anywhere else in Italy. During the weeks that lead up to Fat Tuesday the streets will be full of colour and people wearing masks. Ever wanted to dress like a character from the Phantom of the Opera? This is your chance. There are many events that take place, including lavish masquerade balls, a candlelit parade of boats, street performances and concerts, with St. Mark’s Square the focal point.
With winter transitioning to spring, March brings a mixed bag of weather. While temperatures are rising it will be too cool for swimming, and there will probably be both sunny and rainy days during your trip. Popular cities will be slightly less busy than they will be during the coming months. Discounted accommodation rates may be possible too.
With Easter a major celebration here, nearly every town will be organising parades and other festivities. Rome serves as the focal point with the Pope undertaking the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, holds his tradition Mass. In Florence you can see a cart loaded with fireworks burst right in front of its famous Duomo, along with a magnificent parade that marches through the centuries-old streets.
While you won’t be the only tourist in Italy, as May is the unofficial start to the high season, this a great time to come, with temperatures often idyllic and the sun frequently shining. This is when the annual bike race, Giro d’Italia, takes place, travelling the country for three weeks.
June, along with July and August, is a peak month of the high tourist season, which means warm temperatures and crowds, although it’s possible to escape the heat by enjoying the beautiful beaches in Southern Italy, or heading into the Dolomites for scenic hikes. The highlight of June may be in Florence, with the annual Calcio Storico tournament held – this early form of football is at least 500 years old.
Summer brings sizzling heat along with many cultural events held throughout the country. The Opera Festival will be held in Verona’s ancient arena, while Siena hosts the first of the two Il Palio horse races in its central piazza.
August is when most Italians take their vacations, with soaring temps sending them to the mountains and the beaches where you’ll find big crowds. While some businesses will be closed in the cities, you might find some discounted hotel rates now, if you can deal with the heat.
The weather will likely be a bit more pleasant now with temperatures cooling, especially later in the month, although it’s still a busy time of year for a visit to Italy. The Sagra dell’Uva, a harvest festival, takes place at the basilica of Constantine in the Roman Forum, providing the opportunity to honour the grape.
October is a lovely time to be an Italy, with the leaves on the trees beginning to turn red, and the weather mostly warm during the day and comfortably cool in the evening. It’s a great month to see the sights and even enjoy some of the beaches which will be much less crowded now. If you like chocolate, head to Perugia for the chocolate festival.
The low season begins now, with often wet, cooler weather and fewer tourists out visiting the sights. You might even find a few empty museums. It’s a good time to come for discounted hotel rates and sample olive oils from the recent harvest.
The early part of December will be quiet, but by the middle of the month, many flock here to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the Christmas markets that can be found throughout the country. Rome brings the biggest crowds around Christmas, as the Pope hosts his Christmas Eve Mass. There will be plenty of lively New Year’s Eve celebrations across Italy too.
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