When is the best time to visit Italy?
Here’s my month-by-month guide to help you decide which month matches your interests and priorities. There are highlights for each month, important events, and general weather guidelines. I’ve included all the public Italian holidays, so you won’t be caught off guard by closed stores and restaurants. You’ll also find my top 5 places to visit for each month.
Off we go!
Table of Contents
JANUARY IN ITALY: GENNAIO
Public Holidays in January to Watch Out For
January 1: Capodanno (New Year’s Day)
January 6: Befana (Epiphany)
January in a Nutshell
The Christmas holiday season in Italy doesn’t end until after the Epiphany, or Befana, on January 6. That means kids are still on winter vacation through the first week of the month. In January Italians are recovering from weeks of feasting and hanging out with their relatives. Relative calm returns to the cities, and the mountains are buzzing with skiers.
Winter weather varies throughout the peninsula and islands, but January is Italy’s coldest month. The temperature can hover around freezing from the Emilia Romagna region and northwards. The north is generally colder, snowier and foggier than southern Italy, which is usually warmer and sunnier. If you’re looking for snow, head to the mountains.
The weather in Italy has become much more unpredictable in recent years. There have also been more extreme weather events, like heat waves, droughts, and flooding. The weather descriptions here are general guidelines, please take them with a grain of Italian sea salt.
Top 5 Places to Visit in January
Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomite mountains
Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomite mountains
Vigo di Fassa in the Dolomite mountains
Ponte di Legno in the Dolomite mountains
Rome: by the second week of January, holiday crowds have gone home
FEBRUARY IN ITALY: FEBBRAIO
February Holidays in Italy
February 14: Valentine’s Day (not a public holiday)
February in a Nutshell
February is Carnival time. For major celebrations head to major carnival destinations like Venice and Viareggio. However, carnival is celebrated everywhere, mostly by children wearing costumes and throwing paper confetti.
My favorite part of Carnival is the incredible sweets. You can only taste them at this time of year! Not only that, different cities and regions have their own traditional carnival sweets that you can only find there. For example, in Florence there is schiacciata alla Fiorentina, a spiced yellow cake topped with powdered sugar. You’ll find crunchy strips of sweet fried dough throughout Italy, but with different names.
Italians who work in tourist destinations like the beach or Tuscan countryside, where summer is high season, often have to take their vacation during this “dead” time of year. Double check if you’re set on going to a certain restaurant or small town. For example, islands like the Giglio and Elba empty out. Many of my favorite restaurants close for a few weeks in January or February.
Italy can often see more snowfall in February, so it’s a great month for skiing. In southern areas, it’s already starting to warm up.
Top 5 Places to Visit in February
Verona for Valentine’s Day
Venice for Carnival
Viareggio for Carnival
Ivrea for the Battle of the Oranges during Carnival
MARCH IN ITALY: MARZO
Holidays in March
March 8: International Women’s Day
March 19: San Giuseppe: Father’s Day in Italy
March in a Nutshell
Some trees are starting to flower, and you’ll notice yellow mimosas (the Italian flower of choice for Women’s Day) blooming. Foreign tourists start invading the major cities like Florence and Rome.
March is marked by Lent, but it is also the month of Italian Father’s Day (San Giuseppe) on March 19, when Italians enjoy delicious regional fried sweets. You can also find fresh fava beans and wild asparagus on the menu.
March is the start of the transition out of winter to spring, and in many parts of Italy it’s already light jacket weather. It can be fickle, flip flopping between rain and sun.
Top 5 Places to Visit in March
Baroque Sicily, and Caltagirone for hand painted ceramics
APRIL IN ITALY: APRILE
Public Holidays in April to Watch Out For
Between March 22 and April 25: Easter Sunday (falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox)
The day after Easter Sunday: Easter Monday
April 25: Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day)
April at a Glance
April is host to many lovely spring holidays in Italy, and flowers are in bloom. School children have about a week of spring holidays around Easter, and parents panic every year when they realize how many days off their children have.
April is a time for picnics in the countryside and day trips to the beach, which are a tradition on Easter Monday and April 25: if you’re on the road look out for traffic going back into cities on the evening after these holidays.
The weather is highly variable, with showers and clouds, as well as bright sunny days. In southern Italy it’s already starting to get hot.
Top 5 Places to Visit in April
MAY IN ITALY: MAGGIO
Public Holidays in May to Watch Out For
May 1: Festa del Lavoro (Labor Day)
May at a Glance
May is the time of blooming flowers, street fairs and food festivals, called sagre. The month starts out with Labor Day, when there is a big free music concert in Rome. It’s a great time to head to the countryside and explore small country towns.
Even though May is technically spring, in much of Italy it can already get quite hot . . . when the sun shines. Don’t count on May to be sunny every day though: rain often comes along.
Top 5 Places to Visit in May
JUNE IN ITALY: GIUGNO
Public Holidays in June to Watch Out For
June 2: Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day)
June at a Glance
June counts as summer in Italy: school gets out about 10 ten days into the month. It’s a great time to go to the beach, because it’s hot but there aren’t crowds or high season prices yet. June is also host to important local events like the calcio storico, Florence’s own high contact sport, with the final match on San Giovanni, or Saint John’s patron saint day, June 24. Verona’s opera festival, held in the magnificent Arena di Verona amphitheater, kicks off in mid-June and runs through the beginning of September.
June is generally nice and hot, though sometimes it plays tricks with rain.
Top 5 Places to Visit in June
Florence, for the calcio storico and San Giovanni celebrations
JULY IN ITALY: LUGLIO
July at a Glance
In July, the Italian summer is in full swing. If you like the heat, this is a good time to visit, but don’t say we didn’t warn you! There are a lot of people, and did I mention it’s hot? Places where you can cool off, like the beach, countryside and mountains, are your best bet in July. The cities are swelteringly hot and Italians don’t use air conditioning to the extent that Americans do.
There are also wonderful local festivals, like the Palio di Siena horse race on July 2, and the Umbria Jazz Festival.
Hot. Hot. Hot. With some occasional rain.
Top 5 Places to Visit in July
Siena for the Palio on July 2
Perugia for the Umbria Jazz Festival
Val d’Aosta and the Dolomites
Verona for the Arena di Verona opera festival
AUGUST IN ITALY: AGOSTO
Public Holidays in August to Watch Out For
August 15: Ferragosto (Assumption Day)
August is the highpoint of the Italian summer. Not only that, most Italians take their summer vacation in August, taking off the entire week, if not two or three, around Ferragosto. Cities clear out because it’s so hot, and it’s not unusual for small towns to shut down too. Italians head to the beach or the mountains, which are crowded and abuzz. Only come to Italy in August if you like very hot weather.
Top 5 Places to Visit in August
Siena for the Palio on August 16
Poppi and the Casentino, Tuscany
Ferrara for the Buskers Festival in late August
If you like the beach and crowds: Puglia and Tropea, Calabria
SEPTEMBER IN ITALY: SETTEMBRE
September in a Nutshell
The summer isn’t officially over yet for Italian school children until about September 15, when schools open again. September is a wonderful time to visit if you’re interested in wine, since it’s time for the grape harvest, or vendemmia. Italians also preserve ripe tomatoes, canning them when they’re nice and ripe to last the whole year.
It’s still quite hot and dry in most of Italy.
Top 5 Places to Visit in September
Naples for the Feast of San Gennaro on September 19
OCTOBER IN ITALY: OTTOBRE
October is a lovely time to visit Italy, especially if you like chestnuts (castagne) and mushrooms (funghi), which are in season. Parts of Italy have already started harvesting their olives for olive oil, so keep an eye out for freshly milled extra virgin oil (olio nuovo), which is exquisite.
Though Halloween is not as widely celebrated as it is in the US and England, it has become more and more popular in recent years.
Temperatures are cooling off, but it’s still very comfortable and warm in much of central and southern Italy.
Top 5 Places to Visit in October
Assisi for the Feast of Saint Francis on October 4
Levanto and the Cinque Terre
Alba for the International White Truffle Festival in October and November
NOVEMBER IN ITALY: NOVEMBRE
Public Holidays in November to Watch Out For
November 1: All Saint’s Day
November in a Nutshell
November means three things to me: truffles (tartufi), chestnuts (castagne) and olive oil (olio di olive). It’s an incredible month for eating. Tasting freshly pressed olive oil (olio nuovo) is a must: when it is fresh it is the extraordinary color of ectoplasm.
The weather is colder and rainer. However, warm days here and there are common in central and southern Italy.
Top 5 Places to Visit in November
Alba for the International White Truffle Festival in October and November or San Miniato, Tuscany for the White Truffle Market Fair
DECEMBER IN ITALY: DICEMBRE
Public Holidays in December to Watch Out For
December 8: Immacolata (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
December 25: Natale (Christmas)
December 26: Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Day)
December 31, New Year’s Eve, is not a public holiday but most shops close early.
December in a Nutshell
The festive mood of the Italian Christmas holiday season (le feste) livens up most of December. Cities set up elaborate light displays and decorations, and churches put up nativity scenes (presepi). Italian schools close for the Christmas holidays for two weeks starting at Christmas. The closer to Christmas, the more crowded cities become, with holiday shoppers and local Italians admiring the dazzling Christmas decorations.
Winter weather varies throughout the country, however December is firmly winter weather territory. As a general rule, the north is colder, snowier and foggier, while the south is milder with sunnier days. Head to the mountains for snow and skiing.
Top 5 Places to Visit in December
Bolzano for the Christmas market
Naples to visit the Via dei Presepi and nativity scenes
I hope this helps you decide the best time to visit Italy for you!
Planning a trip to Tuscany? Read about the Best Times to Visit Tuscany: Month-by-Month.