Summer Travel in Italy

Your Guide to Experiencing Italy's Food, Festivals, and Beaches

Beach at Minori in Southern Italy
Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

If you like sun and heat, summer may be the best time to visit Italy, when you can expect lots of both! During summertime in Italy, you can enjoy plenty 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 pursuing your many adventures.

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. Keep in mind that in these cities, as with most places in Italy, you have to spend a lot of time outdoors in order to see them properly. Many museums are not air-conditioned, so ducking into a museum might not be a guaranteed way to cool off. If air-conditioning is a necessity for you, be sure to book a hotel that has it. Most hotels, even budget ones, offer it now, but be sure to verify—some might ask you to pay extra for the service.

Summer temperatures in Italy, especially in the south, 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 before you begin packing for your trip.

Packing For Summer in Italy

There's no getting around the fact that Italian cities can be stifling hot in the summer, so it's important for tourists to pack for the seasonal heat as well as be prepared for the sudden summer showers and thunderstorms that can 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 long-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. If you do wear shorts, they should be on the modest side and not super-short. That goes for women and men. 

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. Remember that many religious sites, including the Vatican Museums in Rome, won't allow you in wearing shorts, miniskirts or sleeveless shirts.

Summer Festivals in Italy

Everywhere from the biggest cities to the tiniest of villages, you'll be able to find festivals all across Italy in the summer. From world-famous events, like the Palio horse race in Siena, to summer concert series to medieval festivals, there's no shortage of traditional and/or cultural events across the country.

Major performing arts festivals include Umbria Jazz in Perugia and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto. You'll often find outdoor music and opera performances in the main square of towns or at historic venues 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 more comprehensive lists 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 July and August, and summer is usually considered high season at hotels near the sea. However, most seaside towns have private beach clubs, called stabilimenti, where you pay a fee that usually gets you a clean beach, a 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 palate. So if you're not sure which season is right for you, visit our "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!

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