Italy experiences all four seasons and is a joy to visit at any time of year. Ultimately, the shoulder seasons provide the best conditions to visit most destinations however summer and winter do carry certain benefits. Here’s where to go in Italy for every season.
Spring in Italy
Early spring yields cooler temperatures that increase significantly from the start of May. Unless you opt to visit Venice during the annual carnival, spring is the best time to explore the Floating City. The crowds lull in early spring before gradually trickling back on the approach to summer. As the evenings draw longer, you’ll enjoy al fresco cicchetti (Venetian tapas) and spritz overlooking the canals. Look for risi e bisi on the menus; this rice dish is tastiest with fresh spring peas.
Cinque Terre is one of the prettiest destinations on the Italian Riviera. These five fraziones are linked via hiking trails and express train. Riomaggiore is the largest and liveliest with a variety of activities while Corniglia is the sleepiest of the quintet. Monterosso has the sandiest beaches and fewer hills. Vernazza appeals to history buffs whereas Manarola is best for sampling the local dessert wine, sciacchetrà. Visiting the Five Lands in mid-late spring is ideal for avoiding crowds and experiencing Easter events or the Monterosso Lemon Festival.
Summer in Italy
Italian summers bring the highest temperatures and an influx in tourism. It is preferable to choose a destination close to the water. The Italian Lakes – centered around Lakes Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo, and Garda – are a joy in summer as the flora is in bloom and the water is pleasant for swimming and sailing. As the region is busiest in summer, it is wise to consider a base in one of the outlying towns.
Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, offers an abundance of beaches, archaeological sites, and gastronomy that differs from the mainland. The volcanic climate has helped establish Sicily as a destination for wine and golf.
Naturally, the Amalfi Coast peaks during the summer months. However, this is when you can look forward to dipping a toe in the Tyrehhthian Sea and gorging on seafood and flavorsome salads drizzled with locally made olive oil at family-owned wineries. Shoot for June or late summer for a calmer experience or consider chartering a yacht for an exclusive stay.
Fall in Italy
Fall is overall the most appealing time to visit any Italian region or city. Visit beach towns earlier in the season and save cities for later in October. Tuscany is in full swing with vendemmia, wine harvest, in September and October. Florence is a delight as the summer sun softens while the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace provide hours of entertainment on a cooler day. Further north, Milan is the quintessential luxury destination in Italy where fashion, art, gastronomy, and soccer ensure that all tastes are met.
The Dolomites are another fine choice of destination for a road trip in Italy interspersed with hiking and seeing the fall colors transform the valleys.
Winter in Italy
Winter is the coldest time of year in Italy with skiing available in the northern regions. Rome is always subject to crowds although winter is when the city is at its quietest. The daytime temperatures are ideal for visiting such open-air attractions as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Centro Storico. On cooler days, you can explore Vatican City and museums in between food stops in the picturesque Trastevere and upscale Prati neighborhoods. Download my Rome City Guide to explore like a local.
The food capital of Bologna is another reliable winter destination. In addition to cruising the restaurant, Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Minghetti erupt with yuletide festivities as they host the annual Christmas markets.
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