What's the Best Time to Travel to Italy?
Congratulations, you are considering a trip to Italy and wondering when the ideal time to visit might be? If weather and crowds are not a concern to you, then there really isn't a bad time for a trip to Italy. But, if you are not a fan of crowds and don’t like the heat and humidity of summer or the cold and damp weather of winter then you should give some thought to the timing of your trip. The travel year in Italy is generally divided into three seasons: peak season (mid-June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and the off-season (November through March). Each has its pros and cons.
If you are travelling with school age children then you are somewhat limited as to when you can go and most likely late June through August is your window of opportunity. The summer months are generally considered to be the peak season in Italy and in addition to high temperatures you will also find higher rates for accommodations. Airline fares also tend to be higher during the summer as the demand for seats to Italy and other European destinations increases.
Be advised that the month of August is not only the hottest and most humid time in Italy but many Italians head out of town for the two-week national holiday in mid-August, and many small stores and family-owned restaurants close. Many Italians wind up taking the entire month of August off and with many of them staying in Italy for their holiday it only adds to the crowds.
The summer rush actually begins in late June as schools and universities end their term and families and college students head onto their summer vacations. Many of the most famous attractions in Italy can be virtually overrun with crowds during the summer.
Another consideration to take into account is that many of the accommodations in Italy do not have air conditioning, although this is slowly changing. If you must go during the summer months do yourself a favor and make sure the places you are staying at have air conditioning.
An advantage to going to Italy during the summer is that this is the driest time of the year with very little rainfall, which makes for great beach weather. Also, the days are longer giving you more daylight hours for touring. To beat the heat plan your days with activities in the mornings and early evenings.
If you have some flexibility then travelling during what is known as the shoulder season is a great time to travel to Italy. This period generally refers to the months of April through mid-June, and September through October, although many places in Italy now consider early September as peak season. This may be due to the Labor Day holiday in the United States when many people are still traveling internationally. During this time the crowds can be less and the weather moderates although you can still get some fairly hot temperatures in late June and early September.
With generally comfortable daytime temperatures and fewer crowds this period makes for an ideal time for a visit with an additional benefit of lower hotel rates (except around the Easter Holiday). The spring season brings with it the added bonus of hillsides of blooming wildflowers along with blossoming trees and gardens while the fall season brings the grape harvest and a landscape painted in golden hues. This is a great time to visit the beautiful rolling landscape of Tuscany.
The shoulder season provides the best of both worlds as it is still warm enough for the beach, especially in the south, while not being too hot to be touring the great cities of Italy. Keep in mind that Italy stretches for over 730 miles from north to south so you can experience various climates depending on where you are visiting. Certainly common sense applies that the farther north you go the cooler it may be while heading south will likely bring warmer temperatures.
The off-season usually refers to the period from November through March. During this time period it generally comes down to luck as to what the weather brings. You can experience downright awful weather with cold and rainy conditions or it may be pleasant and dry.
During this time period the farther south you go the better the chance that you will have moderate weather conditions. We've all seen the pictures of snow in Florence and even the occasional snowfall in Rome so travelling during the late fall and winter months can bring just about any weather conditions.
If you are looking for winter outdoor activities then certainly this is the time to visit as the Alps and Dolomite's gets an abundance of snow. The off-season also brings with it many deals on hotels and accommodations except of course around the Christmas Holiday. This is a great time for visiting some of the more famous tourist attractions and museums as the crowds have largely disappeared. Airlines will also typically lower their airfares during the winter months as an enticement to draw visitors to Italy during its off-season.
So, the verdict is? Going to Italy at any time is certain to be a wonderful experience. But, the truly best time to go to experience the ideal combination of moderate weather, fewer crowds, and more affordable accommodation rates is most certainly late spring (April through early June) or early fall (September through October). We've been to Italy three times in the month of September and once in October and the weather has always been wonderful with moderately warm days and very little rain. I hope this helps you find your perfect time of year to travel to Italy. Enjoy your visit to magical Italy.
Ciao for now.
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© 2012 Bill De Giulio