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- Where To Go in Italy
- Best Hotels in Rome
- Best Family Hotels in Rome
- Where To Stay in Rome
- Best Tours & Things To Do in Rome
- Best Hotels in Florence
- Best Hotels in Venice
- Best Hotels in Milan
- Best Hotels in Naples
- Best Hotels in Matera
- Best Agriturismo in Tuscany
- Best Agriturismo in Umbria
- Florence Travel Guide
- Rome Travel Guide
Italy – When To Visit
- Best Time for Good Weather: May to October
- Best Time for Sightseeing: April to June, September to November
- Best Time for Honeymoon: May, June, September, October
- Best Time for Saving Money: March, April, and November
- Best Time To Visit Rome: April to June, September
- Best Time To Visit Florence: March to June, September
- Best Time To Visit Venice: April to June, September and October
- Best Time To Visit Naples: April to October
- Best Time To Visit Palermo (Sicily): April to October
- Best Time for Wine Country: March to May (most scenic); January and February (wine makers have the most time)
- Best Time for an Agriturismo Farm Stay: Agriturismo in Tuscany and Agriturismo in Umbria are open year round but spring, early summer, and fall are generally the best times to visit.
Best Time to Visit Italy
- The best time to go to Italy: The best time to visit Italy is in the spring (April to June) or fall (September and October) when there is nice weather, moderate temperatures, fewer tourists, and lower prices. The summer months can be hot, crowded, and expensive. The winter months are often grey, wet, and cold in the north but temperate south of Rome.
- When To Book Hotels in Italy: The Best Florence Hotels and the Best Venice Hotels get fully booked 4 to 6 months in advance. The Best Hotels in Rome are a bit more forgiving but still try to reserve rooms at least 3 months before traveling.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: The best time to enjoy sightseeing throughout Italy is typically April and May (other than Easter week), and around mid-September through mid-October. These periods are when you can expect some of the most pleasant weather, and crowds won’t be at their peak. Later in the spring is generally drier, while you may see more rain if you wait until mid-autumn. While August can be crowd-free in the cities, the heat can be searing, and many businesses, especially the smaller, family-run shops and eateries, shut down. If you’re on a tight budget, on the first Sunday of the month throughout the country, all state-run galleries, museums, ruins, parks and gardens are free to visit, making it a good day to squeeze in as many of those sights as you can.
- Best Time to Visit the Roman Colosseum: The Roman Colosseum is one of the most popular attractions in all of Italy and the most famously recognized symbol of Rome, which means there’s little chance of missing the crowds here – unless you go after dark. During the day there can be hundreds, or even thousands of other visitors that can interrupt what should be an experience of a lifetime. But if you take a night tour, you’ll usually be among less than a dozen other tourists, you can get into areas that are typically closed to the public, and you’ll see it all gloriously lit up against the backdrop of the night’s sky. If going in the evening is not an option, be sure to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid a lengthy wait in line, and arrive as early as you can – ideally 8 a.m. or earlier, as by the time the doors swing open at 8:30, there are likely to be hundreds clamoring to get in with you.
- Best Time to Visit Pompeii: Pompeii is another one of Italy’s top attractions, and a true must-visit, providing a fascinating look at this city, frozen in time when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. You’ll get insight into how the people lived their daily lives, strolling the ancient streets to see the remains of a forum, baths, an amphitheater, bakeries and even brothels. The best time to visit is between November and April (except Easter week, and between mid-December and early January), when fewer busloads of tourists crowd the narrow streets. For the best chance of pleasant weather, try to time your visit at the early or later ends of that period, but no matter when you arrive, you’ll want to be there at least 15 minutes before the ruins open at 8:30am.
- Best Time to Visit the Venice Canals: If you don’t mind braving the cold, one of the most magical times of the year to visit Venice and its picturesque canals is in January. There are unlikely to be crowds, and there is less boat traffic too. Take a gondola ride, bundling up in the blankets that are provided, to enjoy a romantic, intimate ride that’s much more rewarding than in the summertime, when temperatures sizzle and the waterways are jam-packed. If a winter visit isn’t an option, avoid going around sunset, which is the when just about everyone plans to go. Instead, go between late morning and early afternoon, when rides are less expensive and crowds tend to thin.
- Best Time For Shopping: Throughout Italy, the best time for shopping is during the winter and summer sales. The winter sales begin around the first week of January, after New Year’s Day, and continue until inventory is depleted, usually around mid-February. Summer sales hit in July and August. Earlier during either sale, discounts tend to be around 30 to 50 percent off. Toward the end, there are much bigger discounts, as much as 70 percent or even more, but you won’t have as much to choose from.
Italy Travel Seasons
- High Season (mid-May through July and September): Summer is generally the high season in Italy, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that with the season broken up a bit. Many people consider August to be part of the low season, as the majority of Italians go on holiday during this time, which can mean lower hotel rates as well as fewer crowds, though it can also mean searing heat, especially in the south of Italy. From mid-May through July and again in September, the country will be teeming with visitors, and rates will be at their highest. Expect very warm temperatures throughout the country, with the most extreme heat in the south and just about anywhere inland. If you visit during this season, you can beat the biggest crowds by venturing to smaller villages and lesser-known places, avoiding the big cities like Rome, Venice and Florence.
- Shoulder Season (March through mid-May, except Easter; October and November): Shoulder season is arguably the best time to visit Italy, particularly March and April. With autumn becoming increasingly popular, do be aware that sometimes the high season sneaks into October as well. Temperatures are typically very comfortable, and in the spring you can hike through the lush, green meadows of the Italian Alps. In the fall, you’ll have food festivals galore to choose from, as well as the grape harvest in October and the olive harvest in November. While you won’t enjoy the lowest rates or the fewest crowds of the year, the shoulder season is an ideal compromise between the low and high seasons.
- Low Season (August and December through February, except around Carnival): Winter is generally low season, other than Carnival which falls in the period before Lent, generally during the month of February. Many consider August to be the low season as well, with practically the entire country going on holiday, especially during the second half. Except in beach and island locations, many restaurants, shops and family-run hotels shut down. That means you can enjoy the major cities without the crowds, and hotels often offer significant discounts. The wintertime generally brings the lowest rates and fewest visitors along with chilly temperatures, rain, and often snow in the north. In the south, winter temperatures average around 10°C. There is another exception to winter being low season- in and around any of the mountain ski resorts is high season as these areas draw many skiers, snowboarders and other snow sports enthusiasts.
North and South Italy Weather by Month
For the purpose of this article, we’ve broken down the weather into North Italy, generally focusing on the Tuscany/Umbria region, with South Italy referring to the Rome/Naples regions. As one would expect, further north, you can expect the coldest temperatures and snow in the mountainous areas, and further south, the warmest temperatures in the country.
Italy Weather in January
- North Italy Weather in January: January is the coldest month in Italy, so no matter where you plan to visit, be prepared for some of the chilliest temperatures of the year. Some areas will get snow, while others will see lots of fog and rain, as this is the time when some of the most rainfall, snowfall and cloudy skies occur. The average temperature is around 7°C, with highs hovering around 11°C and lows at 3°C. You’ll need winter clothing, including a hat, scarf, sweater, gloves and a jacket. A rain jacket can be helpful too, as rain falls an average of 10 days this month. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 63mm.)
- South Italy Weather in January: Average temperatures in the south are around 9°C. in January, and higher the further south you go. The mercury may climb to 13°C or higher on especially pleasant afternoons. In general, you can expect a Mediterranean winter, with cool but not uncomfortably cold temperatures. Be prepared for some mist and rain by bringing a rain jacket and/or umbrella, with 80mm of precipitation falling on average this month. You may need something warmer at night, as lows can fall to around 5°C and frost is not unheard of. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
Italy Weather in February
- North Italy Weather in February: Temperatures gradually begin to increase in February, with an average temperature of 8°C and a low of 4°C. Temperatures in the mountains are still below freezing, so you can expect plenty of powdery slopes for skiing, and perhaps even a dusting of snow in the lower elevation cities too. While there is a slightly less precipitation this month, you’ll still need to bring that winter gear and perhaps and rain jacket too. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 49mm.)
- South Italy Weather in February: February is very similar to January in the south as well. Here, you can expect average temperatures around 9°C, increasing to 13°C on warmer afternoons. The difference between the north and south is that this month there is slightly more rain, with 100mm fall on average, though there is a bit more sunshine between those rain showers too. That means you’ll want to plan on dressing in layers for temperature fluctuations, bringing both long- and short-sleeved shirts, and a warmer jacket for the evening, when temps can dip as low as 5°C. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 100mm.)
Italy Weather in March
- North Italy Weather in March: The weather continues to improve over the course of March. The chance of rain and snowfall decrease, while average temperatures have climbed another degree to 9°C, with lows dipping to around 6°C. By March 31, highs of as much as 17°C can be enjoyed, making the last week of the month an especially good time to visit. You’ll still need to pack that winter clothing, but you may want to bring a few things for warmer weather too – the later in the month you plan to be here, the less you’ll probably need to bundle up. (Average Max Temperature: 10°C. Average Precipitation: 69mm.)
- South Italy Weather in March: Spring, anywhere in Italy, can be unpredictable, but in the southern region in particular, it’s often a great time to be here, with things gradually warming to 16°C, and even warmer later in the month. The rain decreases to 80mm, and there is usually plenty of sunshine for taking, as well as more daylight, for taking advantage of for outdoor activities – the sun doesn’t set until nearly 8pm by month’s end due to Daylight Savings Time. As long as spending your days at the beach aren’t what you had in mind, March in Italy’s southern regions can be ideal, not too hot, not too cold, and few crowds to contend with. Plan on dressing in layers and you’ll be well-prepared. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
Italy Weather in April
- North Italy Weather in April: While April in Italy can be rather unpredictable, there’s no doubt that things are heading firmly toward summer. While there are likely to be some April showers, with 78mm of precipitation this month, temperatures will be warmer, 14°C on average, and the sun shines more often too. Plan to dress in layers, and bring a rain jacket as well as your sunglasses, as odds are, you’ll need both in the course of a day. In an especially warm year, temperatures in April have even been known to rise as high as 25°C, and as low as just under freezing, though either is unlikely. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Precipitation: 78mm.)
- South Italy Weather in April: In the sunnier south, odds are, you will need your sunscreen and sunglasses, short-sleeved shirts and even shorts or a dress, as well as a sweater for cooler evenings and a light rain jacket. Though you may be tempted, you probably won’t need a bathing suit as sea temperatures remain cool, ranging from just 14°C to 19°C. April brings some 100mm of rainfall too, though like the north, average temperatures will be warmer and the sun shines more often. The average high in the area is 18°C this month, although temperatures could reach over 25°C.
(Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
Italy Weather in May
- North Italy in May: May is a wonderful time to be in Italy, though crowds are starting to thicken. Summer is just around the corner, with this month bringing warmer temperatures, averaging 18°C earlier in the month and 21°C by May 31st. There’s a little less rain too, with 72mm on average, and you’re likely to enjoy a lot more bright sunny days, making those sunglasses an absolute must. In the evenings it can get just a bit chilly, with lows at 13°C. With the mix of warm daytime temperatures and cooler needs, you’ll need to pack a range of clothing, including jeans and shorts, t-shirts, sweaters, and a jacket so that you’ll be comfortable no matter what the weather. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 27mm.)
- South Italy Weather in May: In the south of Italy, May typically feels more like summer than spring, with average daily temperatures rising to a high of 20°C, four degrees warmer than last month. There is less rain, with 60mm falling this month, and you’ll see an abundance of sunshine, which means if you plan to visit this region, you’ll definitely need that sunscreen, along with sunglasses and a hat. Plan to dress comfortably with loose, light clothing and bring a light sweater or jacket for evenings as temperatures can get as low as 12°C at night. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
Italy Weather in June
- North Italy Weather in June: June marks the official start of summer, so you can expect plenty of warm temperatures, sunshine and crowds. While the average temperature is 21°C on June 1st, by the end of the month it climbs to 24°C, and highs of 30°C around this time are not uncommon – the highest temperature ever recorded in June is 40°C, though the average high is closer to 28°C. There is just 50mm of precipitation, generally falling on eight days in June, so you’re less likely to need a rain jacket, though you may want to bring a light one just in case. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- South Italy Weather in June: It will certainly feel like summer in the south, though June is unlikely to be as hot as July or August. Average temperatures are more pleasant, around 21°C, though on warmer days it can rise to 26°C. Evenings are cooler but pleasant, with overnight lows of 16°C, so unless you chill easily, you’re unlikely to need much in the way of warm clothing, even after dark. With only 30mm of rainfall over five days in June, skip the rain jacket or umbrella. Instead, bring loose, lightweight clothing and open-toed shoes, as well as sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. With sea temperatures at 24°C now, this is the time to bring that bathing suit along as well (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
Italy Weather in July
- North Italy Weather in July: Along with August, July is the hottest month of the year in Italy. Temperatures reach their maximum while rainfall and clouds are few and far between. The daily average temperature is 25°C, with the average high at 31°C. There is just 31mm of precipitation in July, with most coming in the form of a quick thunderstorm. This is the time for lots of lightweight clothing, sun hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. You may want to bring a bathing suit and soak up the sunshine from one of the many beautiful lake beaches, or along the northern coast. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: 31mm.)
- South Italy Weather in July: As with everywhere else in Italy, July is the hottest and one of the busiest months of the year in the southern region, with the average high increasing three degrees to 30°C, and very little rainfall at just 30mm on average. Expect it to be hot and dry, with the perfect opportunity for cooling off in the Mediterranean. Be sure to pack proper sun protection as your skin is likely to burn easily if you’re outside during the hottest hours of the day. Tank tops, shorts and sundresses are what it’s all about now, just like it is in the north. Do keep in mind when looking for a place to stay that in this region, even with those sizzling temperatures, not all accommodations include air conditioning and you won’t get much relief from the heat at night with temperatures typically dropping only to a low of 19°C. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
Italy Weather in August
- North Italy Weather in August: This is the month most Italian’s take their annual break to avoid the scorching heat, with daytime temperatures now averaging 31°C and occasionally creeping up to even 40°C. The time when many restaurants and shops shut down for two to four weeks, in the major cities like Florence, you’ll probably see more tourists than locals, but up in the mountainous areas, you may experience some crowds, with many Italians heading further north to enjoy slightly cooler temperatures and the picturesque lakes. Pack as you would for July, with plenty of lightweight clothing and sun protection. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: 48mm.)
- South Italy Weather in August: Similar to last month temperatures can reach as high as 30°C, but on high-humidity days, it can feel a lot hotter. To avoid heat exhaustion, plan your day so that the hottest hours are spent inside cool museums, galleries, or churches. Locals, and just about everyone else it seems, are likely going to be down at the beach – bring a bathing suit if you hope to join them, packing as you would for July. As with last month, it’s important to book an air-conditioned room if you want to keep comfortable during those warm nights. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
Italy Weather in September
- North Italy Weather in September: While early September typically brings hot, summer-like days, things begin to cool off as the month progresses. The average high dips four degrees to 27°C, and there is a greater chance of rainfall too, particularly during the latter half of the month, though you’re likely to enjoy plenty of sunshine on most days. In the evening, temperatures may drop down to 16°C, which means with a mix of warm and cool temperatures. Plan to bring a variety of clothing, including a sweater or light jacket as well as lightweight items like short-sleeve shirts, shorts or skirts so you’ll be comfortable day and night. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 76mm.)
- South Italy Weather in September: As in the north, with September ushering fall in, temperatures will gradually begin too cool, though not by much. The average high temperature drops a few degrees, with afternoon highs generally not climbing more than 27°C. There is also a little more rain to cool things off, with 80mm of precipitation over nine days this month, most often during the second half. Chances are, you’ll still need plenty of summer clothing, including a bathing suit and sun protection, but you may also need a light sweater or jacket for cooler evenings that can dip down to 16°C. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
Italy Weather in October
- North Italy Weather in October: Autumn is officially here, and while early in the month you can expect to enjoy especially pleasant temperatures, which is one of the reasons October is an especially popular time to visit Italy. Don’t expect most places to be crowd-free, though the beaches are often rather quiet and you may even get to enjoy a warm, summer-like day on a nearly empty stretch of sand. The average high falls six degrees to 21°C, and the chance of rainfall increases significantly, with 96mm coming down over 12 days. That means you’ll probably need to have both sunglasses and a small umbrella or rain jacket to be prepared for whatever weather comes your way. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
- South Italy Weather in October: October also brings cooler temperatures and a greater chance of rain in the south. It usually doesn’t get hotter than 22°C, this month, and there is a noticeable amount of rain, with an average of 130mm falling over 11 days – 50mm more than the September average. Evenings are chillier too, with temps sometimes dipping as low as 13°C, you’ll need a jacket too. Despite the changing weather, October is a good time to visit this area as well, with plenty of sunshine in between showers, but if swimming is what you had in mind, plan to arrive earlier in the month as sea temperatures drop by two degrees to an average of 23°C by late October. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Precipitation: 130mm.)
Italy Weather in November
- North Italy Weather in November: While November can often mean lower rates and few crowds, the trade-off is a lot of grey, rainy days, as the rainiest month in the country. In the northern region, 102mm of precipitation falls in November, and temperatures can dip down as low as 7°C, so you’ll definitely want to plan on bundling up, and wear water-resistant shoes. Snow is unlikely, with the exception of the mountainous areas. On a pleasant day, temperatures can rise as high as 15°C, so while you’ll probably need more clothing for cooler weather, you may want to bring a mix, tossing in a few items for those warmer days too. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 102mm.)
- South Italy Weather in November: November is also the wettest month in the south, with 140mm of rainfall coming down, though temperatures will be warmer here than they are in the north. In fact, in most places, the weather is still rather comfortable, with temperatures averaging around 13°C., and sometimes climbing as high as 17°C. While you won’t need a bathing suit, you may still need a pair of sunglasses for bright afternoons, as well as a rain jacket or umbrella and waterproof shoes. Plan to dress in layers, bringing some lighter weight clothing along with a sweater or two. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Precipitation: 140mm.)
Italy Weather in December
- North Italy Weather in December: In most of Italy, wintertime is the low season, except in and around the ski resorts, attracting countless visitors to snow-covered mountain slopes. While December isn’t usually the coldest month, it’s just behind January, with temperatures dipping to an average low of 4°C in places like Florence, and often below freezing in the Italian Alps. Snow is particularly common in the mountains and at higher elevations, and you may even see snowfall at sea level in Venice. Where it isn’t snowing, chances are, it’s raining, with 72mm of precipitation on average. If you visit in December, be sure to bring your warm winter clothing, including a coat, sweater, hat, scarf, gloves and even warm, waterproof boots. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Precipitation: 72mm.)
- South Italy Weather in December: It’s winter in the south too, and while it won’t be as cold as the north, temperatures can dip as low as 6°C at night. During the day, especially when the sun out and the temperature rises to 13°C, it’s likely to feel rather pleasant, allowing for comfortable outdoor activities, though lounging on the beach is probably out of the question. December brings a little less rain than November, with an average of 100mm of precipitation, but you will probably need that rain jacket or umbrella, along with a mix of clothing that allows you to dress in layers. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 100mm.)
Italy Events and Festivals
Italy in January
- New Year’s Day – January 1 is a national holiday in Italy, which means many places, including restaurants, shops, museums and historic sites will be closed, although you’ll still be able to find a number of cafes and eateries that are open for lunch and dinner.
- Ephiphany/La Befana – Epiphany is also a national holiday and is held annually on January 6th, marking the 12th day of Christmas. This is the main event of the holiday season, the day on which Italians exchange gifts as the final day of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” when a witch called La Befana fills children’s stockings with gifts. Most places will be closed on this day as well, though you can watch nativity pageants in many spots around the country.
- The Trasimeno Blues Festival – The winter edition of the Trasimeno Blues Festival takes place during the first week of January at Lake Trasimeno, and is considered the most important music festival in the Umbria region.
- Festival of Saint Anthony the Abbot – This Italian holiday held on January 17 throughout the country, and in some places, like Sardinia, it’s a two-day celebration on January 16 and 17. It celebrates the patron saint of butchers, domestic animals, gravediggers and basket makers, with a focus on bonfires. The fires burn all night, and there is usually lots of drink, music and dancing.
- Winter Sales – Shopping in Italy is a big event in January, as it starts the winter sales period, which lasts through mid-February, or until inventory is gone. The exact start date can vary depending on location, but it’s usually near the beginning of the month. You’ll generally find the best discounts on clothing, typically 20 to 30%, though there are often even bigger bargains as the sale progresses and inventory begins to get depleted. If shopping is a priority, Florence, Milan, and Rome should be at the top of your must-visit list.
Italy in February
- Carnival – While there aren’t a lot of events in Italy in February, the month hosts one of the year’s biggest: Carnival. During the period before Lent, which usually falls in February but can fall anywhere from late January through early April, the masked celebration takes place in many towns throughout Italy. The biggest and best is surely the Venice Carnival, with the entire floating city becoming a living theater set for two weeks or more, a tradition that’s been taking place since the 12th century. Thousands upon thousands come donning costumes, attending masquerade balls and taking part in a variety of activities. The “grand finale” features a candlelit, silent water parade where hundreds of gondolas float along the Canal Grande. In 2018, the Venice Carnival will run from January 27 through February 13.
- Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day, February 14, is not a big holiday in Italy, although you will see special chocolates, flowers and other gifts for sale in shop windows, and some restaurants may advertise romantic Valentine’s dinners.
- Feast of Saint Agatha – In Catania, Sicily, one of the biggest religious festivals in the world takes place, attracting nearly a million people to the streets for the three-day event held in early February. It begins with a midday procession that ends in Piazza Duomo, which hosts the St. Agatha Cathedral, and is capped off with a magnificent fireworks display.
Italy in March
While there aren’t many festivals or other events in March, sometimes Carnival and/or Easter fall during this month as they follow the liturgical calendar. Be sure to check the dates before planning your trip if you hope to attend, or want to avoid a spike in visitors.
- Festa della Donna –On March 8 each year, Women’s Day is celebrated across Italy, honoring mothers, and all women. This is when the men bring yellow mimosas or other flowers to the females in their lives. You may notice some of the eateries offering special meals, and, depending on where you are, there may be special local events or concerts.
- Festa di San Giuseppe – March 19 is Father’s Day in Italy, similar to the day fathers are celebrated in the U.S., with the added twist of consuming zeppole, which is kind of like a doughnut.
Italy in April
- Holy Week and Easter – Holy Week is celebrated from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, sometimes falling in late March, but most often from early to mid-April. 2018 is the occasional exception, with Holy Week from March 25 through March 31, while Easter falls on April 1. Easter mass is held at every church throughout the country, with the biggest and most popular celebrated at Saint Peter’s Basilica by the Pope. Many purchases have special statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that are paraded around the city, or displayed in the main square. And, you may see parades with participants dressed in traditional costumes. The towns of Enna and Trapani host especially elaborate processions.
- VinItaly, Verona – The largest wine exhibition in the world, VinItaly is held in Verona over four days in April, April 15 to April 18 in 2018. Visitors can taste, buy and study wine at this celebration of not only vino, but food, art and music.
- Liberation Day and Saint Mark’s Day – April 25 is Liberation Day, a national holiday that commemorates the fall of the Italian Social Republic under Mussolini and the end of the Nazis’ occupation of Italy during the Second World War. This is also Saint Mark’s Day, the patron saint of Venice, who is celebrated in the city with a boat race and a massive party in Saint Mark’s Square.
Italy in May
- Labour Day/International Workers’ Day – Labour Day is a national holiday in Italy, held annually on May 1, bringing political rallies that are organized by various workers’ unions and political parties to most major cities. On this day, expect major museums and other businesses, including restaurants to be closed, and public transportation options to be limited. In Rome, you can attend a free rock concert on Piazza San Giovanni, Concerto del Primo Maggio, which features a host of famous bands and songwriters from the early afternoon hours through around midnight.
- Festival of Sant’Efisio – The historic city of Cagliari, which is the capital of Sardinia, hosts its most important festival on May 1st each year as well. This fabulous traditional festival is attended by both locals and visitors to enjoy the colorful parade that follows the statue of Sant’Efisio through the picturesque streets.
- Giro d’Italia – This is Italy’s version of the Tour d’France, and it kicks off in early May and lasts throughout most of the month.
- Festa dei Ceri – The town of Gubbio hosts one of the country’s oldest folklore events on May 15 each year. The annual race that honors St. Ubaldo features a unique procession in which the locals carry huge wooden “candles” from the town center all the way up Mount Ingino to the Basilica of St. Ubaldo. Each of the candles is crowned with a statue of a saint, resulting in a structure that weighs some 700 pounds.
Italy in June
- Republic Day –This Italian national holiday is held on June 2 each year to celebrate Italy becoming a Republic in 1946. While it is similar to Independence Day in many other countries, it doesn’t include fireworks. You may find parades, festivals or concerts depending on where you are, and most major sites will be open.
- Festa dei Ranieri – This ancient festival in Pisa begins with the Luminara, a parade that takes place on the evening of June 16th, the eve of the patron saint’s feast day. On the afternoon of June 17, the Regatta of San Ranieri is hosted, bringing four quarters of the city who challenge each other in a regatta on the Arno to commemorate Pisa’s nautical traditions. The celebration also includes fireworks.
- Saints Peter and Paul Day – This religious holiday celebrates two of Catholicism’s most important saints on June 29 each year. Special masses are held at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and San Paolo Fuori Le Mura.
- Gay Village Festival – This festival in Rome begins in mid-June and runs for about six weeks. It’s popular with all Romans and includes music, dance parties, theater performances and a film festival.
Italy in July
- Il Palio di Siena – On of Italy’s most famous sporting events, this bareback horse race is held in Sienna around the Piazza del Campo. It takes place on July 2, and again on August 16. Before the race, there is a spectacular procession with participants dressed in medieval garb, as well as festive open-air dinners.
- Festa della Madonna Bruna – On July 2 in the cave city of Matera, known for its sassi, or cave dwellings, a huge float of the Madonna Bruna is paraded through town. The event is capped off with the statue being torn apart and burned, while a spectacular fireworks show lights up the city.
- U Fistinu of Saint Rosalia – The Feast of Saint Rosalia is held over five days, July 10 through July 15 in Palermo, Sicily. One of Sicily’s biggest festivals, it honors the patron saint of the city who was said to have saved residents from a horrific plague. There’s lots of music and eating, as well as a parade which is focused on a 50-foot high float with a statue of Saint Rosalia and a musical band inside.
- Festa dei Noantri – The “Festival for the Rest of Us” centers around the Feast of Santa Maria del Carmine, in honor of the working-class heritage of Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood and the Madonna of Mount Carmel over the last two weeks of July. It includes an abundant feast, lots of wine, music and dancing, as well as a magnificent fireworks display.
- Ravello Music Festival – The Ravello Music Festival is hosted in a beautiful outdoor venue along the Amalfi coast starting in July and running through September, with the sea breeze providing natural relief from summer’s searing heat. You can expect a mix of performances in genres that range from jazz and classical to opera, contemporary Italian and world music.
Italy in August
- Ferragosto – August 15th marks the official start of summer vacation for many Italians, and it’s also the religious holiday of Assumption, when Roman Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. While it’s the biggest holiday after Christmas and Easter, unlike other public holidays, many museums and cultural sites will be open.
- Palio del Golfo – This event is a rowing race that sees 13 maritime villages bordering the Bay of La Spezia come to together to compete on the first Sunday in August.
- Tuscan Sun Festival – This popular arts festival is held in Cortona in the Arezzo province and features renowned artists and musicians over nine days starting on the first weekend in August. It’s filled with music, art, food and wine, and includes cooking demonstrations, lots of locally-made items, and, of course, plenty of fantastic Tuscan wines.
- Festa della Madonna della Neve – This festival hosted on annually on August 5 in Rome celebrates the miraculous summer snowfall that was said to have occurred back in the year 352. The event is re-enacted every year with a flurry of white flower petals that float down from the roof of the basilica onto the crowds below, accompanied by a special sound and light show.
Italy in September
- Venice International Film Festival – The world’s oldest film festival, in 2018, the 72nd Venice International Film festival will take place from September 2 to September 12 at Palazzo del Cinema. Countess big-name stars can be seen gracing the red carpets and the gondolas.
- Regata Storica di Venezia – Venice hosts this historic event on the first Sunday of September. The rowing calendar’s most important event, it features four different races and all sorts of boats, including the gondola. Teams of gondoliers, some donning elaborate costumes, race through the Grand Canal. The Regata also includes plenty of tasty foods and music.
- San Gennaro Festival – The San Gennaro Festival is held annually on September 19 in Naples to honor its patron saint, Saint Gennaro, in the most important religious festival of the year. Thousands fill the Naples Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo in the morning, hoping to see the saint’s blood liquefy in what’s called the “miracle of San Gennaro.” The vials of blood, which were collected after the saint’s beheading in 305 AD are removed by the Cardinal from safekeeping, along with a bust of San Gennaro, to the high altar of the cathedral. Exposed to the power of prayer, the powdered blood is then said to “miraculously liquefy” as a good omen for the city and its inhabitants.
- Juliet’s Birthday – Shakespeare’s Juliet of Romeo and Juliet is celebrated in Verona on September 12th each year with street entertainment, dancing and parades.
Italy in October
- Eurochocolate – Eurochocolate is one of the biggest chocolate festivals in Europe. Held in Perugia for 10 days in mid-October, this is your chance to taste all sorts of chocolate from around the world as well as take cooking classes, view incredible chocolate-sculpting displays, enjoy wine tasting and a variety of performances.
- Alba White Truffle Festival – This festival is the biggest truffle festival in all of Italy, taking place on weekends throughout the month of October in the town of Alba.
- Boccaccesca – The town of Certaldo Alto in Tuscany hosts this gastronomic fair over the first two weekends in October. There are food stalls that sell some of Tuscany’s most famous foods, including delicious breads, as well as lots of Tuscan wines.
- Halloween – Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated in Italy, and there is no trick-or-treating, though many of its major cities will host parties and costume contests in bars, clubs and other venues for adults.
Italy in November
- All Saints Day – November 1st is a public holiday, All Saints Day, a time when Italians visit cemeteries and graves as a remembrance of their loved ones who have passed.
- White Truffle Fair – The medieval Tuscan hill town of San Miniato hosts the White Truffle Fair on the second, third and fourth weekends of November. It includes entertainment, craft stands and a wealth of restaurants featuring the celebrated truffle.
- Festa della Salute – On November 21st in Venice, this annual festival is held, commemorating the plague that ravaged the population in the early 1800s. You can watch a footbridge being laid down across the Grand Canal, leading from San Marco quarter to the steps of the church of the Madonna della Salute, where the main doors open for mass.
Italy in December
- Wild Boar Festival – Held in the medieval Tuscan town of Suverto, this 10-day festival begins in late November, and runs through December 8th, the day when a huge feast is offered that includes wild boar, and many products from the region, like olive oil, honey and wine. The festivities also include medieval competitions and dress.
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception – This annual public holiday celebrates the day of the Virgin Mary’s conception of Jesus on December 8 each year. As it is a holiday day of obligation throughout Italy, schools and public offices are closed, but most restaurants and shops are open as the day is generally viewed as the official start to the Christmas shopping season. Many places host parades, feasts, music and more.
- Santa Lucia Day – On December 13, Santa Lucia Day is celebrated in many places throughout the country, though the biggest is in Sicily where the city of Siracusa features a massive parade which carries the saint on a golden coffin to the Church of Santa Lucia.
- Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – On Christmas Eve, most Italians enjoy Christmas dinner with their families which is followed by Midnight Mass at their local church. On Christmas Day, residents typically join friends and family for a large lunch that goes on throughout the day, and sometimes into the next with the national holiday of Santo Stefano on December 26. Most places shut down on December 25, but you can usually find a few bars and ethnic eateries open.
- New Year’s Eve – December 31st, New Year’s Eve, is celebrated with fireworks in central squares and parties throughout the country, many of which last well into the wee hours of the morning. Naples is renowned for offering some of the best festivities, with a concert held at Piazza del Plebiscito and fireworks that are shot over Castel dell’Ovo as the clocks strikes midnight. Most towns will hosts music and dancing, while the cities of Palermo, Milan and Rome also host large outdoor concerts.
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