Weather in Italy
Italy is located in the Temperate zone between the 36° and 47° parallels, which means it is roughly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Popular belief is that the climate in Italy is always favorable and sunny, but that’s not always the case. In fact, there is a stark contrast between the northern and southern regions (mainly due to the elongated shape of the peninsula), and between inland and coastal areas.
In Italy there are six main climatic regions, each of which has particular characteristics regarding the temperature, the annual temperature range, the rainfall and the frequency of the winds. The regions are characterized by the following climates:
Alpine zone: The winters are long and rigid, while summers are shorter and cool. Rainfall is abundant and winters experience a fair amount of snow.
Padana zone: Winters are cold and long, while summers are hot. Precipitation is concentrated in autumn and spring. Mists and snowfalls can happen in winter, thunderstorms in summer, at times accompanied by hail.
Apennine zone: The climate is continental, so cold winters and hot summers. Rainfall is abundant especially on the Tyrrhenian side, since it is hit by masses of humid air from the west.
Tyrrhenian zone: Winters are mild and summers are hot. The temperate climate is due to the influence of the sea and the shelter that the mountains offer to the cold winds from the north.
Adriatic zone: Temperatures are lower than on the Tyrrhenian coasts due the Adriatic Sea being a shallower and less extended than the Tyrrhenian Sea, and because cold winds pass through the Alps from northern Europe. Precipitation is scarce and distributed irregularly.
South-eastern zone and islands: The latitude gives this region the characteristics of a subtropical climate with high temperatures and scarce precipitation. The internal areas of Calabria, on the Apennines, are the only region where temperatures are low in winter with abundant snowfalls.
When is the best time to go?
The best time to visit the main Italian cities is late-summer/early-fall. From mid-September to the end of October the temperatures are pleasant, the days are long, the sun often shines and nature is in bloom (even if it may sometimes rain, especially in the northern and central regions). In early spring, from March to mid-April, the weather is typically mild and sunny, but it can also be cold and rainy; it is a fairly unstable period. During the summer from June to August it is generally sunny, but it can be very hot, especially in July and August. Tourists flock to cities like Rome, Florence and Venice especially during this period. So if you’re not into overcrowded streets and the heat, consider visiting Italy in the early Fall or late Spring.
Alpine areas are often visited in summer. For skiing, snow is generally guaranteed in February and in the first half of March, when the days are longer than in December and January.
For a beach holiday, the best months are July and August in the northern and central regions, with September also being a good month in the south of Italy. In June, the weather is often nice, but the sea can still be a little cool for swimming.