The best time to visit Italy

IMG_1355Siena Cathedral.

A common question frequently asked of me is when is the best time to visit Italy, or Europe and my answer is always the same — April, May and early June or late September and October.

Personally, spring and autumn in Italy are my absolute favourite times of the year. Not only for living here but especially for travelling and exploring. It’s warm enough that you are able to enjoy the sun, the sea and minimal clothing but not yet hot or cold enough that you’re uncomfortable. The crowds are also a little less crazy in these months which is a bonus.

This isn’t to say that travelling outside of these months will be terrible, because it most definitely won’t be but what it will be is a different experience. I am very much a sun and warmth kind of gal but I always say that you must experience Italy in the summer and the winter at least once as there are pros and cons to both.

IMG_7574Spring in a Venetian piazza. 

Spring – 20 March to 21 June 

Technically spring doesn’t start in Italy until mid to late March. In fact this year the first day of spring is today – 20 March! Although it was snowing yesterday, so I think spring may be running a little late this year.

If you enjoy the sun and warm weather but don’t want to sweat it out in 35 degree heat then travelling to Italy in spring is for you. March can still be a little on the cool side, but late April and May are the perfect weather for exploring both the cities and seaside towns.

The plus side to visiting Italy in the spring is that those looking to enjoy the quintessential Italian summer haven’t yet arrived. This makes all the difference when you’re lining up for attractions or trying to find a spare spot on the shores of a beach. Of course, there will still be plenty of tourists and by no means will sites and cities be empty but there will be a hell of a lot less people than in July and August.

Some of my favourite trips in Italy have been in spring and I tend to make the most of weekends off as much as I can. If sitting in a sunny piazza or ocean side, sipping on a spritz or prosecco, enjoying the mid 20’s weather then this is definitely the time for you.

Some of my favourite places to visit in Spring:

IMG_5694Summer in Bertinoro, Emilia Romagna

Summer – 22 June to 22 September 

Coming from Australia, most people I know tend to visit Italy in peak summer season. That is from late June through to August. Personally, these months are the months I try to avoid being in Italy choosing to holiday else where or finding myself a B&B with a pool and view somewhere in the Italian county side.

Don’t get me wrong, summer in Italy is magical. Italy has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve visited and the weather is almost always hot. What isn’t so magical are the millions of other people who are also here to find the magic!

For example, Venice in August is not the same Venice as it is in May. It’s 35 degrees, your walking almost single file, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of other tourists and the minimum wait to get inside a museum is an hour a a half.

If travelling to Italy in summer is your dream and the only time you can travel, you will still have an amazing time but where possible I would definitely recommend exploring the seaside towns or smaller less travelled cities in the country.

Last August I booked a final weekend away before starting back at work at a beautiful little B&B in the hills of Emilia Romagna. I had never heard of the town, didn’t do any research and it was one of the most relaxing and beautiful weekends we had all summer. Away from the crowds and escaping the heat with our very own infinity pool over looking vineyards.

Some of the places I recommend visiting in summer:

  • Amalfi coast
  • Sicily
  • Capri
  • Sardinia
  • Puglia
  • Portofino

IMG_8882Autumn in Cittadella. 

Autumn – 23 September to 20 December 

Autumn is my second best favourite time of the year in Italy, particularly late September and October. After the crowds of summer have left and the heat has calmed to a nice 22 or so degrees, you feel as though you can breathe and relax again.

This is the perfect time of the year to hit up Italy’s bigger cities like Rome and Florence. Obviously, neither city are ever free from crowds but they will be significantly less than a month or two ago.

Autumn is also the perfect time of year to explore the Italian country side or mountain regions. Aside from beautiful beaches, Italy has some pretty great nature and hiking trails particularly in the Dolomite region.

Alternatively, the seaside towns are also pleasant at this time of year too. It might not be warm enough for some people to swim, but definitely still warm enough to enjoy sunset walks along the marina or happy hour in an outdoor bar overlooking the Mediterranean.

My favourite places to visit in Autumn:

  • Venice
  • The Dolomites
  • Milan
  • Florence
  • Lecce
  • Siena

IMG_0863Winter in Bruel-Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta. 

Winter – 21 December to 20 March 

Winter in Italy is definitely something that everyone should experience at least once. Not only is it entirely different to exploring Italy in the summer but it’s magical in its own way — the Christmas markets, the decorations and the snow!

Italy in winter is for two kinds of people, or three if you’re someone who doesn’t have the luxury of choosing your holiday time. The first kind of people are those who don’t mind the cold and a little rain and wouldn’t let that dampen their site seeing and exploring. And the second kind of people are those who love to ski and are adventurous.

Italy has some of Europe’s best ski areas, and if that’s your kind of thing I would definitely recommend visiting Italy in January or February. The best ski parks can be found in the Dolomites in northern Italy and Valle d’Aosta further west on the boarder of Switzerland.

Christmas season in Italy is also something not to be missed and is a truly special time of year. From late November through to the first week January, all of Italy comes to life with Christmas markets, festivities and decorations, regardless of how small or big the city is. It truly is something straight out of a movie.

However, beware that travelling in the off season also means that many things will be closed for the winter. For example, in January I visited Cinque Terre with my family and hardly anything was open, save for a couple of restaurants here and there. Likewise with Sienna. So just bear that in mind when choosing destinations. Unless you’re going to spend most of your time in the mountains, I suggest visiting the bigger cities where things like museums and other attractions will be open.

My favourite places to visit in winter:

  • The Dolomites – Vipiteno, Cortina d’Amprezzo, Trento
  • Rome
  • Florence
  • Venice
  • Milan
  • Valle d’Aosta – Bruel, Cervinia

When is your favourite time to visit Italy?

 

 

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