Robie is an Italian artist who now lives in the US. She loves to share useful vacation tips and first-hand knowledge about Italy.
From North to South, including the islands, Italy is full of amazing destinations and proudly owns some of the most attractive artistic and cultural treasures in the world.
If you are planning to visit Italy and you have the flexibility to choose the period of the year when to go, the ideal choice would be to pick periods when tourism is lower.
When planning your trip to Italy, you can save money by:
- Traveling during off-peak season.
- Booking your airplane ticket at least 2–3 months in advance.
- Avoiding main holidays or city-specific major festivities
- Not following the masses. Eat, buy, and shop in places away from the main touristic itineraries.
When Is the Low Season in Italy?
Low season can be considered the periods from April to the end of June and the months of September and October. These are also months with wonderful weather, since they are neither during the Italian hot summer nor cold winter.
During low season you’ll have better opportunities to:
- enjoy the cities you are visiting because of smaller crowds
- see a more realistic Italian lifestyle, since most of the people around are natives
- and last but not least, save money.
Italian Climate and Temperatures
The climate in Italy is generally temperate. Only rarely you can find temperatures higher than 40˚C (104˚F) in the summer, or below -10˚C (14˚F) in winter. Seasons are pretty well defined: Winter is generally cold; spring is rainy but with many sunny days; summer is hot and dry, with some thunderstorms; and fall is mild, sometimes rainy, but never cold.
The Mediterranean Sea, which surrounds Italy, influences the climate making it milder, especially on the coast, where winters are warmer and summers are less hot.
Due to its geographical configuration, Italy can be divided into three climate zones:
From Sunny and Hot to Cold and Snowy, You Can Find It All in Italy
Climate in the North
The Northern region is the area less mitigated by the sea, and presents a climate that is quite cold during winter, with snow showers during the months of December, January and February, and a very hot and humid summer.
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Climate in the Center
Central Italy, between the cities of Bologna and Rome, has a temperate climate with a smaller difference between cold and hot seasons, though occasionally you could have a snowy and cold winter and extremely hot summer.
Climate in the South and main Islands (Sicily and Sardinia)
The weather in the South of Italy and the islands is generally dry and warm, with fewer rainfalls and periods of drought. Winter is never too cold and autumn and spring have temperatures close to summer in the North and center areas.
Climate on the Alps and Apennines
An exception must be made for the mountainous areas of the Alps and Apennines, where the altitude makes the climate colder.
Locations on the Alps and Apennines are ideal for skiing in winter and excursions and hiking during the summer months.
Best Months to Visit Different Cities in Italy
April, May, and June are probably the best months to visit Italy, because the climate is moderate everywhere, and the blooming farmlands add wonderful scenarios to the already picturesque landscapes.
September and October are two other favorite months to enjoy great temperatures and low costs. In the South of Italy, like in Calabria, Puglia, and Sicily, you can still go to the beach and swim in the sea in the fall. Though locals may cringe thinking it's too cold for them, the temperatures are truly lovely.
If you like shopping, then you may want to go to Italy during the sales periods. You may be surprised to hear that sales in Italy are strictly regulated by law, and official calendars are published every year. Typically sales are allowed during change of seasons, i.e. January and July.
When to Go to Milan, Venice, and Florence
Milan: Milan is a city of business and fashion, and has also wonderful sightseeing and museums. The best periods to visit are May, June, September and October.
Venice: the most enjoyable period to visit Venice is from the end of March to the end of May, and the months of September and October.
During the carnival season, usually in February—but it changes according to when the Easter Holiday falls each year—Venice becomes the stage for professionals and amateurs in costumes of all kinds. It’s quite wonderful to see, but of course it is not the cheapest period to visit.
Venice can be flooded with high tides during the winter months, especially in the months of November and December.
Florence: Autumn is the rainiest period in Florence, with heavy rain storms that can last for days, especially in November. Summer is very hot, with scattered thunderstorms.
Spring and the beginning of autumn are usually the best seasons to visit Florence.
Rome, Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily
Rome: The best time to go to Rome is in the spring, from April to June and in the month of September, when the skies are blue and the temperature is still warm.
Naples: From April to October is the best time to visit Naples, the region of Campania, and all the islands around it. The best months to take the ferries and visit Capri and the other islands are from April to June, and September-October.
Sardinia: The best period to visit Sardinia is from April to June. In April the whole island blooms with flowers, the landscape colors showcase yellows from broom and mimosa bushes, blues of lavender mix with the wild bushes of white and purple cistus, purple orchids fill the paths, and red poppies color the yellow cornfields; the spring landscape is a festival of colors.
Sardinia is best known for its wonderful beaches, where it’s comfortable to bathe from May to October. The peak tourist season is in July and August, but September and October are great months to go to the beach.
Sicily: Sicily has a mild and sunny climate all year long, but the best times to visit are during the months of April, May, June, and September.
Airfare Booking Tips
- Best period to buy airplane tickets is usually from January to March.
- Buy the tickets at least 2–3 months in advance, sooner if possible. This will allow you to find shorter flights (fewer stop-overs, shorter layovers) at competitive prices.
Most Expensive Periods to Visit Italy
As for every market, the tourism market does not make an exception on the basic rule: the higher the request, the higher the price. In fact, the most expensive periods to visit Italy are related to popular Holidays and vacation periods.
Some holidays are common to the all country, but depending on the city you are visiting, you may find very popular city-specific holidays.
Major Italian National Holidays
New Year's Day, January 1
Easter Sunday, the date varies each year
Easter Monday, the day after Easter Sunday
Liberation Day, April 25
Labor Day, May 1
Republic Day, June 2
Assumption Day, or Ferragosto, August 15
All Saint's Day, November 1
Immaculate Conception, December 8
Christmas Day, December 25
Saint Stephen's Day, December 26
Avoid Traveling at Ferragosto If You Can
Typically Italians take their vacations in August, especially the weeks around the 15th of August, which is called Ferragosto. That is a major holiday in Italy, with fireworks, parades, air shows, etc.
If you plan to visit during that period, be aware the cities become ghost towns. Most shops and businesses close, and inhabitants go to the beach or travel, to the point that barely anyone is around… well, no one but the tourists. Also, since August is the peak vacation period for Italians, reservations get quite costly.
Stay Away From Popular Touristic Itineraries
The best way to save money while on vacation is to spend your money away from the usual touristic itineraries.
Choose a hotel in a less touristic area and look for restaurants and shops used by locals.
Don’t get trapped by shining and fancy tourist shops, you can save lots of money and get better quality for the price if when it’s time to purchase you stir away from the main attractions.
Ask for directions and advice at your hotel front desk, or even from people on the street. The average Italian is very happy to be helpful.
Questions & Answers
Question: What month do you find flight tickets to be cheaper?
Answer: It depends, you should check often for special offers. Popular vacation months are usually the most expensive, off-season can be cheaper, but flight prices depend on many factors.
Question: When planning a trip to Italy, should you go through a travel agent or tour company?
Answer: Shop around and go with the best/most convenient for you.
I usually plan all our travels myself, but we are all different.
Maybe asking around you can get tips and ideas and you'll be able to plan the trip by yourself, it depends what standards you are up to.
Question: What is the best time to buy tickets for an Italian April 3-17 vacation from LAX?
Answer: As soon as possible, check many sites or use a travel agent.
Question: Where is the best place in Italy to fly into from the USA?
Answer: It depends on where you are going. There are direct flights from the USA to several Italian cities. I've flown into Milan, Venice, Rome, and Naples and they all had great airports. I'm sure there are other options as well. Most of the time I fly to Venice because my family is there, but you can look up the airport nearest to your destination as I'm sure there is a way to get there, if not with a direct flight, with a layover from somewhere in Europe.
Question: Are there direct flights to Naples, Italy from JFK?
Answer: As far as I know there are no direct flights from JFK to Naples, but I am not a travel agent, so you may want to double check. Also, sometimes direct flights are only seasonal and might only be available in certain periods.
Question: What is the cheapest city to arrive in Italy from DC?
Answer: Well, I have to be honest, my family is in Venice, so I always fly into Venice, and I have never researched what other cities could be cheaper to fly to.
I guess it depends on the season and demand for each city, sometimes local festivals or events increase drastically the number of tourists, and the price of the ticket goes up. It requires some planning ahead, and some research, probably a travel agent with the right software can answer this very quickly, but I don't have those resources.
One thing is sure, the Italian public transportation, including the railroad service, connects every corner of the territory, so it would be possible to land in any region and then get to your final destination by railroad or bus. But then you'd have to take into consideration that cost and the extra time traveling.
© 2012 Robie Benve