Summer Travel in Italy

Your Guide to Experiencing Italian Food, Festivals, and Beaches

Beach at Minori in Southern Italy
••• Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

For travelers who like sun and heat, summer may be the best time to visit Italy, where you can enjoy lots of bright sunshine, visit one of its many beaches, partake in a summer festival, attend outdoor concerts and plays, and have more hours of daylight for your many adventures in the warm climate.

Summer is the height of tourist season in popular cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, whose rich cultures and fine dining experiences offer visitors a chance to truly see and taste the beauty of Italian living, though these cities can be quite warm and without air-conditioning—so be sure to dress light!

Summer in Italy can be very hot, especially in the south, and temperatures can rise above 100 degrees for days in a row. The climate is generally dry but central and northern Italy can be humid and afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. To escape the heat, visitors can head to the beaches or mountains—be sure to check Italy Travel Weather and local weather stations before you begin packing for your trip so you'll stay cool while touring the country.

Packing For Summer in Italy

Italian cities can be hot and stifling in the summer, so it's important for tourists to pack adequately for the seasonal heat as well as being prepared for the sudden summer showers and thunderstorms that frequently occur. 

You'll want to bring a lightweight sweater and rain jacket—especially if you're heading to the mountains—as well as a bathing suit, sandals, and a few sleeved shirts. Because Italian men and women generally don't wear shorts around town except at the beach, you'll want to bring some breathable pants for your adventures in the cities as well.

There are a number of outdoor performances and festivals as well as museums and tourist sites, so be sure to pack a variety of clothing, largely depending on what you plan to do on your trip. Festival clothes can be informal and should be lightweight and cool as most festivals are outdoors. If you plan on keeping your trip largely indoors at tourist sites and museums, though, you should remember that many Italian establishments don't run air-conditioning and pack light but more formal clothes for the occasion—many religious sites won't allow you in wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts.

Summer Festivals in Italy

Everywhere from the biggest cities to the tiniest of villages, you'll be able to find a plethora of festivals all across Italy in the summer. One of the most famous of these festivals is the Palio horse race in Siena, but many towns hold contests for Palio horses and medieval festivals are common.

Major performing arts festivals include the Umbria Jazz Festival and Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto. You'll often find outdoor music and opera performances in the main square of towns or at a historic venue such as the Roman Arena in Verona.

August 15, Ferragosto or Assumption Day, is a national holiday and many businesses and shops will be closed. You'll find celebrations in many places in Italy, often including music, food, and fireworks. In big cities like Rome and Milan, however, the city will empty out as Italians head for the beaches and mountains and you'll find many shops and restaurants closed for vacation.

Be sure to check out our list of  Summer Music Festivals in Italy, or explore the individual event calendars of  JuneJuly, August, and September for a more comprehensive list of festivals you can attend—free and for a fee—on your trip to Italy this summer.

There are also a number of performing arts festivals in July and August, so if the theater is more your thing, be sure to check out some of those while you're in the country, too.

Italy's Beaches and Food in Summer

Italy's beaches become very crowded on Sundays and in August, and summer is usually considered high season at hotels near the sea. However, most seaside towns have private beaches where you pay a fee that usually gets you a clean beach, dressing room where you can leave your things, a lounge chair, a beach umbrella, a good swimming area, toilets, and a bar.

Beach play areas for children, often with small carnival-type rides, also open in the summer. Near popular beaches, you'll find bars and seafood restaurants with outdoor seating and small shops selling beach supplies and souvenirs; in summer, many seaside towns are connected by frequent ferries.

Summer also brings delicious fresh vegetables and fruits to the many towns and cities of Italy, each best enjoyed at the peak of its growing season. Look for posters announcing a sagra or local fair to celebrate a particular food, an inexpensive way to sample local specialties. Of course, summer is a wonderful time to enjoy gelato, Italian ice cream, and the typical Italian staples are available year-round.

Although summer in Italy brings with it a wide selection of seasonal crops, each season has its own unique flavor pallet. So if you're not sure which season is right for you, visit out "When to Go to Italy" article for highlights of each season, including when each of Italy's native fruits and vegetables is ready for harvest!