The Best Time to Visit Italy

Colosseum, Rome, against Blue sky

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Almost any time of year can be a good time to visit Italy. Not every country has those bragging rights! While Italy offers much to enjoy during any season, the best time to visit Italy is during the fall, from September through November, when hotels and airfare are less expensive and summer's crowds have subsided at popular tourist attractions like Coliseum and the Vatican.

Whenever you decide to go, read on to learn more about Italy's weather, and to discover which holidays, food and festivals are available throughout the year.

Popular Events and Festivals

The New Year stars with a bang in Italy, as Italians, like many other Europeans, celebrate Epiphany, the date the Magi delivered gifts. In February, celebrations continue as Italians celebrate Carnevale, an event with parades and balls like a pre-Lenten Mardi Gras, that is celebrated as a final party before Ash Wednesday. Spring in particular is full of many events in the country, largely revolving around the Easter holiday. In summer, the country hosts outdoor festivals and events, like the annual Palio horse race, held each year in Siena.

In fall, it's all about food as bounty like truffles and wild mushrooms are celebrated. And finally, December revolves around Christmas, when Italians celebrate Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, Santa Lucia Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Saint Stephen's Day and several other saints' feast days.

The Weather in Italy

Italy's climate varies tremendously depending on where you visit. The north of the country, near the Alps, has a harsh climate with cold winters and hot, humid summers, while central Italy has a mild climate year-round. In southern Italy, you'll find warm temperatures throughout the year.

For example, temperatures in Milan can range from as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Rome is much milder, with low temperatures typically in the 40s and summer highs in the 80s.

Peak Season in Italy

Peak season in Italy is typically mid-May through August, when visitors flock to the country from around the world. While many Italians go on their own holidays in August, visitors from elsewhere all but make up for it, sending airfares and hotel rates to their highest. Summer is a great time to visit, thanks to Italy's beautiful weather, but be prepared for more crowds at major attractions than other times of the year.

January

January can be a great time to visit Italy for those who don't mind the cold. During the winter, opera, symphony, and theater seasons are in full swing. For winter sports enthusiasts, Italy's mountains offer lots of opportunities.

Events to Check Out

  • Epiphany, the arrival of the three kings, is celebrated each year on January 6 and is the most important Italian festival celebrated in January.
  • San Antonio Abate is celebrated on January 17 in many parts of Italy. Huge bonfires are lit and there's often also music, dancing, and plenty of wine.

February

February can get a bad rap, but it's a great time to visit for budget-conscious travelers as airfare and accommodations are much more reasonably priced than in other months. The weather can be cold and damp, so bundle up!

Events to Check Out

  • Carnevale, as it’s called in Italian, moves every year according to the liturgical calendar, moves every year, but there's a good chance some of the best events will take place during February.
  • Italy's official winter sales period kicks off in February, so if you're looking to do some shopping, there's no better time.

March

March can start off cold and damp, much like February, but by the end of the month, it's likely that the sun is shining and a number of wildflowers, tree blossoms and gardens are in bloom in Italy then. Crowds are still low, making March a great time to visit.

Events to Check Out

  • The Rome Marathon is held on the third Sunday in March. The race starts at the Roman Forum.
  • Easter sometimes falls in late March with events during the week leading up to Easter Sunday and is a huge celebration throughout the country.

April

 As one of Italy's "shoulder seasons," you can find great weather and great prices if you happen to visit during April. Easter usually falls during this month, so if you happen to visit during Easter, know that the holiday is observed more faithfully than it is in the United States, which means you may encounter more closed shops, restaurants, and tourist spots during this time than you would in America. On the flip side, visiting at Easter is a great time to see Holy Week processions.

Events to Check Out 

  • Italian Easter week celebrations start during the week before Easter and continue through Easter Monday, La Pasquetta, a national holiday.
  • Rome's birthday (753 B.C.!) is celebrated each year on April 21.

May

In May, temperatures are warming up and crowds are increasing. You'll also have more hours of daylight, which can make the month great for exploring or hitting the beach.

Events to Check Out

  • May 1 is a public holiday all over Italy. It is celebrated similarly to America's Labor Day, with a few different parades and festivals to celebrate.
  • May also signifies the kickoff of the Giro d'Italia, the country's equivalent to the Tour de France.

June

Crowds are at their peak in June, but the weather is great as temperatures haven't yet peaked. While prices might be higher, if you're dreaming on a sun-soaked Italian holiday, June is the month for you.

Events to Check Out

  • June 2 is the Festa della Repubblica, a national holiday that celebrates the founding of Italy as a unified republic. There are typically big parades and fireworks displays throughout the country.

July

A summer trip to Italy means you'll enjoy lots of bright sunshine and can drop by its breathtaking beaches. Going to the Mediterranean country in July also means partaking in Italy's fantastic summer festivals, attending outdoor concerts and plays, and relaxing outside during the evening hours. July is a busy month for tourism, so expect to pay higher prices for lodging and flights.

Events to Check Out

  • Palio, Siena's famous bareback horse race around the central square, Piazza del Campo, takes place on July 2.
  • On the third Sunday in July, one of Venice's biggest festivals, the Festa del Redentore, or Festival of the Redeemer, marks the end of a big plague epidemic in 1576. Today, it's celebrated with fireworks and a gondola regatta.

August

Italians take their own vacations in August, but the country is still abuzz with tourists. The weather will likely be hot (and humid, in most parts!) and crowds swell at popular tourist attractions, ranging from The Last Supper to the Colosseum. While larger cities will still have plenty of activity, beware that smaller towns and villages will be much quieter.

Events to Check Out

  • Ferragosto (Assumption Day), is a national holiday that marks the peak of the summer vacation season. It's held on August 15.
  • La Fuga del Bove (Escape of the Ox), is a three-week-long festival in the Tuscan town of Montefalco. It includes great food, historical costumes, and music.

September

The hottest summer weather has subsided, summer's crowds have thinned, and Italians are back from their vacations. Italy in the fall is among the best time to visit. You can enjoy fall foods like truffles and wild mushrooms, attend fall festivals and cultural events, and get around different places without the heat of summer.

Events to Check Out

  • Regatta Stories, Venice's historic boat race takes place the first Sunday in September with four race categories.
  • The Festival of the Madonna of the Sea is celebrated the second Sunday of September in Sicily in the village of Patti.

October

October marks the true start of Italy's shoulder season when prices are typically much lower than you'll find at other times of the year. There's still plenty to do though, as the whole country is full of harvest festivals celebrating wine, mushrooms, truffles, and more.

Events to Check Out

  • Alba's famed white truffle festival takes place on weekends throughout October in the Piedmont region of Italy.
  • In Trieste, the Barcolana Regatta is the largest gathering of boats in the Mediterranean Sea. 

November

November brings low airfare (sometimes as little as $500 round-trip from the U.S.) and incredible fall foliage. Hotel rooms are often less expensive as well, making the month a great time to visit.

Events to Check Out

  • The White Truffle Fair in the medieval Tuscan hill town of San Miniato is held on the second, third, and fourth weekends in November
  • The Feast of Our Lady of Good Health is held in Venice on November 21 at Madonna Della Salute Church to commemorate Venice's deliverance from the plague in 1621. 

December

December's weather sometimes isn't ideal—temperatures have begun to drop and snow is common in many parts of the country. Tourism, surprisingly, slows during the first part of the month but picks back up around Christmas time. For many, spending Christmas at the Vatican is a lifelong dream.

Events to Check Out

  • While Italians typically spend Christmas Day with their families, many cathedrals hold Christmas Mass.
  • The medieval Tuscan town of Suvereto hosts their wild boar festival (Suvereto Sagra del Cinghiale) at the end of December. The event culminates with a giant feast.