Italy has a diverse climate due to its location and longitudinally-spread geography. A humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) dominates the northern interior. The Apennines and alpine foothills have an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). The coastal areas and the peninsular south along with the islands exhibit a characteristic Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa, Csb) with warm, relatively dry summers and cold, wet winters. The Po Valley is mildly continental (Köppen Dfb), but the climate above the tree line in the Alps is alpine (Köppen ET). Italy lies in south-central Europe and shares borders with Austria, France, Slovenia, and Switzerland in the north. Sicily, Sardinia, and several small Mediterranean islands lie in the south. The Ionian, the Adriatic, the Tyrrhenian, and the Mediterranean Seas engulf the Italian Peninsula. The Alps and proximity to vast water bodies chiefly influence the climate.
Italy has a vast coastline, and more than one-third of the territory is mountainous. The Alps that stretch west to the east direction in Italy act as a natural barrier to the cold winds from the north. The snowline lies at the height of 3000 meters, and snowfall occurs from late autumn to early spring. The Apennines are cold and windy and receive significant snowfall. The most extensive plain, the Po Valley, is mildly continental and generally devoid of strong winds. The Po River flows from the western Alps to the Adriatic Sea in the east. The Tiber River drains into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west. The coasts and islands exhibit a sunny Mediterranean climate. Garda, Maggiore, Como, Trasimeno, and Bolsena are the largest lakes in the country, which also has alpine lakes and glaciers. Fog is standard in the central region in winter and often blankets the airport in Milan. Fohn is a warm and dry wind that blows in the winter. The cold Bora wind from Eastern Europe brings freezing temperatures in Italy. Four of the fourteen volcanoes in the country are active. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Italy at 4810 meters.
Summers are warm to hot in Italy based on region and altitude. The region south of Florence is typically sunny and dry, with many days above 37.8°C (100°F). The warm southern wind, Sirocco, brings intense heat in late spring and summer, while the westerly Maestrale brings coolness with showers. The Po Valley is hot and sticky, with daily highs between 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 32.2°C (90°F). In the north, along with warm sunshine, there are cloudy days, with thunderstorms and rain. Temperatures usually peak at 35°C (95°F) in July in the north. Spring and autumn are mild but have volatile weather that changes sunny conditions quickly into cloudy and rainy ones. Winters range from cold and snowy in the north to mild and rainy in the south. The average low temperatures are below -17.8°C (-0°F) in the Alps and above 4.4°C (39.9°F) in the warm south, in January. Snowfall is substantial in the mountains and crosses 5080mm (200") at a height above 2000 meters. The Venice Lagoon freezes during cold winters of Italy.
The annual average rainfall in Italy ranges from 635mm (25") in the south to 1016mm (40") in the north, with no dry season. The regions of Liguria, Lombardy, and Piedmont in the northwest receive between 914.4mm (36") to 1117.6mm (44") of rainfall annually. The Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia in the south receive 558.8mm (22") to 838.2mm (33") of precipitation annually. Snowfall is substantial in the winter and easily surpasses 1778mm (70") to 2540mm (100") in the high mountains. The humidity ranges from lows of 55% to highs of 95%. The annual sunshine varies from 1800 hours in the north to 2600 in the south. The longest days are in June and the shortest in December. The sea temperatures are mild and usually between 12.8°C (55°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) in much of Italy.
The highest temperature on record in Italy is 47°C (116.6°F) in Foggia, Apulia, set on 25 June 2007. The lowest temperature on record is -49.6°C (-57.3°F) in Busa Fradusta, Pale di San Martino, set on 10 February 2013.
The best time to visit Italy
The best time to visit Italy is in the second half of the spring season from mid-April to May. The sunny period of late spring has moderate temperatures and little rain. The days are long, and the skies are clear. Summer is hot, but sees crowds, especially in the famous cities of Rome and Florence. Spring vacations are less costly than the summer, which is the period of peak tourism. The Alpine region in the north is a lovely place to spend the summer vacation, with plenty of hiking, trekking, and biking activities. Beach holidays in the northern region are at a premium from July to September. Early autumn is a reasonable period, with pleasant conditions.
The worst time to visit Italy
The worst time to visit Italy is generally in the winter from December to February. The alpine zone experiences freezing temperatures and receives substantial snowfall. Snow lovers and adventure seekers find the white mountain slopes to their liking, with activities ranging from skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, among many others. November is typically wet in Italy, and it is cumbersome to clad in rain protective clothing outdoors perennially. The low temperatures in the highlands above 1000 meters drop below -9.4°C (15.1°F) in January, and even the days occasionally register below freezing. Day temperatures in the south register above 10°C (50°F) in most cities. Seawater temperatures are cold and not suitable for swimming. Winter is rainy and the days are short in December in Italy.
Italy routinely faces natural weather hazards, such as floods, droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Forest fires frequently occur in the Mediterranean region at the peak of summer when the heat and dryness are high. Droughts occur during extended dry periods in the central and southern regions. Many small islands in the south are volcanic in origin. Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on mainland Europe, lies in Italy. Mount Etna, Stromboli, and Vulcano are other active volcanoes in Italy. The mountainous region experiences many earthquakes, but large magnitude ones rarely occur more than once in a decade. Large earthquakes trigger the possibility of giant tsunami waves. Thunderstorms occur in the summer and blizzards in the winter in the high mountains.
Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in Italy, as the winter reaches its peak. Much of the north experiences freezing nights, with several incidents of frost. The alpine regions receive heavy snowfall, and even day temperatures drop below freezing at altitudes above 2000 meters. Rome, the capital in the central region, has relatively mild temperatures in the 2.2°C (36°F) to 12.8°C (55°F) zone. Southern Italy is mild, with temperatures in the 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 12.8°C (55°F) range. The rainfall is to the tune of 50.8mm (2") to 101.6mm (4") in the majority of the country. The daily sunshine limits to 4 hours in the cold of winter. The eastern part of the Po Valley is prone to the cold Bora wind from Eastern Europe, which breaks the pattern of mild winter of the region. The Venice region is abuzz with a carnival atmosphere by late January. Warm clothes, along with an umbrella, are necessary for the winter. Mountain adventurers need warm winter coats, gloves, and caps in January in Italy.
Weather in February
February is the snowiest month of the year in Italy. The vast snow deposits on the Alps and Apennines bring plenty of visitors and business to the 400-odd skiing resorts in the mountains. The extreme northern region lies in the clutches of snow and frost, even though the winter is mild in the south. The average temperatures in Mount Terminillo in the central Apennines are in the freezing range of -3.9°C (25°F) to 1.1°C (34°F). The Sicilian mountains at similar heights have much milder temperatures in the winter. Messina and Palermo in Sicily receive 101.6mm (4") of rain in February. The winters are foggy and cold in the north but mild in the south. Winter is the time of discounts on many things, including clothing brands like Armani and Gucci. If a little cold is not a concern, February in Italy can bring the best of carnivals, skiing in the mountains, gourmet food, and visiting museums and world-renowned theaters at leisure.
Weather in March
March brings mild temperatures to Italy, with the arrival of the spring season. The average temperatures in the beautiful northwestern city of Turin are in the range of 2.8°C (37°F) to 13.3°C (55.9°F). The leaning tower of Pisa, where the average temperatures are in the mild zone of 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 15°C (59°F), receives fewer footfalls than the summer. The daily sunshine increases significantly, along with the degree of warmth. A snowstorm in the north is a possibility during early spring, and cold spells with rainy days are not uncommon. The precipitation is to the tune of 50.8mm (2") to 101.6mm (4"), with snowfall in the northwest. An extra of daylight due to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time in the last week of March offers outdoor dining before nightfall. Warm jackets are useful against rain and cold during outdoor activities in spring. Budget travelers find accommodations and attractions economical due to fewer crowds. March weather gradually warms up all the regions in Italy.
Weather in April
April is one of the best times to visit Italy as the landscape warms up considerably. Flowers are in bloom, the soil smells sweet, waterfalls are roaring with the melting of snow, and rivers are flowing with renewed energy. The Dolomites are full of greenery and beautiful wildflowers, with gorgeous views of the countryside below. The average temperatures in Rome in the central region range between a mild 6.7°C (44.1°F) to warm 18.9°C (66°F). Naples, in the south, lies in the beautiful zone of 8.3°C (46.9°F) to 18.3°C (64.9°F), as the sunshine lasts for a daily 6 hours. A beach holiday is typically cheap in the spring season, as sea temperatures, even in the south, are mild at best. The precipitation is moderate, and the skies are occasionally cloudy. Plan meticulously, if a visit is due to Italy around the period of Easter when there is a surge in tourist numbers. A warm jacket is a useful accessory in the mild weather of April in Italy.
Weather in May
May is sunny and beautiful in Italy, with warm temperatures. The average temperatures in Florence in the central region are in the warm range of 11.7°C (53.1°F) to 23.9°C (75°F). Evenings are long, and nights are cozy. The northwest receives 76.2mm (3") to 127mm (5") of rainfall in May, more than any other region of Italy. The Tuscan sun brings warm sunshine to the tourist site of Val d'Orcia, with narrow winding roads, a green landscape, and neatly arranged trees. The lakes in the north are perfect holiday destinations with clear, blue waters, flower gardens, and opulent villas in the background. Sea temperatures in Rimini in the north are below 18.3°C (64.9°F), which is a bit cold for swimming. A light rain jacket is useful in spring, but the conditions do not warrant warm clothes. Palermo, in the central region, is prone to the warm Sirocco wind in late spring that brings intense heat. Expect crowds to increase by the end of May in Italy.
Weather in June
June begins the warm summer season in Italy, with average temperatures ranging in the 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) in the north and 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 30°C (86°F) in the south. The brilliant sunshine lasts for a daily 8 to 9 hours, and the skies are mostly clear, with a relative minimum of rainfall in the summer. The shores spot increased tourist traffic, as the sea temperatures rise above 21.1°C (70°F). Beautiful villages with unspoiled countryside, scenic mountains with snow-capped peaks, and exquisite beaches are few of the many attractions of the summer season in Italy. Summer is the peak tourist season, with plenty of sunshine and extended daylight hours. Exquisite wines, pasta, pizzas, and fruits of all kinds are available to the delight of backpackers. Boating, sailing, kayaking, water skiing, and swimming are a few of the many enjoyable water activities. Cruises to the southern islands, where the water is warm, rarely see vacant seats. June is a beautiful month in Italy, worth a visit even during the peak tourist season.
Weather in July
July is the sunniest, hottest, and relatively dry month in Italy. Alghero and Cagliari in Sardinia, Messina and Palermo in Sicily, Ustica Island, and the regions close to the Mediterranean Sea receive blistering daily sunshine of 11 to 12 hours. July average high temperatures cross 33.3°C (91.9°F) in Catania in the south and 30.6°C (87.1°F) in Bologna in the north. The architecture of medieval buildings, cathedrals, and castles shine in the bright summer sun. Cobble-stoned pathways provide a classic look to town centers as visitors prefer to eat in outdoor cafes, especially in the mornings and evenings. Early morning is an excellent time to visit the Colosseum in Rome when the crowds are fewer, and the sun is kind. A gondola is a preferred way to explore Venice, with the rain in the form of light showers at best. Use public water fountains to remain hydrated under the intense sun. Expect hot conditions during the day and warm nights in the southern half of Italy in July.
Weather in August
August is usually hot and muggy in Italy, with the average high temperatures in the 23.9°C (75°F) to 33.3°C (91.9°F). Sunny and bright days are the standard in much of Italy, with relatively more rain in the northeast. Nights are occasionally sultry, especially in the city centers where the urban heat island effect is more. Southern beaches have warm seawater, but it is advisable to avoid them during the hot afternoons. Evenings are abuzz with activity in the long daylight hours. Light summer clothing, including a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and shorts, usually suffice during the day. Heatwaves occasionally occur in the interior regions, with several days over 37.8°C (100°F). The Alps are a perfect getaway during the high summer, with mild temperatures and plenty of fun. Fresh fish is always on the menu, sourced from the vast Italian coastline. The vibrant nightlife of Milan couples effortlessly with the daytime exploration of its splendid architecture. August sees crowds in Italy, so plan early for accommodations.
Weather in September
September is warm and sunny as the mild autumn season knocks Italy. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable range of 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 28.3°C (82.9°F). Night temperatures fall quickly, with only the southern region registering above 15.6°C (60.1°F). The rainfall is moderate until late September, after which it picks up gradually. The northern region receives 76.2mm (3") to 127mm (5") of precipitation and is wetter than the south. The autumn has many sunny days, especially in the first half of the season. Many festivals take place in the fall from Venice to Milan and Sicily, with the harvest season in full swing. The Chianti region of Tuscany is famous for its wine, whose festival season usually begins with the harvest of grapes in September. Sample local food in the beautiful days of autumn amid a festive atmosphere. Travelers who kept away from Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples due to high prices and extreme heat find September a great month to visit Italy.
Weather in October
October is mild in Italy, with mild days and cold nights, as the temperatures drop quickly. The autumn is beautiful, with brilliant shades of color all over the landscape. The highlands and countryside are at the peak of their beauty, as the leaves change colors and display shades of red, purple, orange, and yellow. October is wet in much of Italy, with 76.2mm (3") to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall. Expect rain and shine, and wear a rain jacket or carry an umbrella during outdoor excursions. The coastal regions get plenty of sunshine, with average temperatures in the range of 10°C (50°F) to 25°C (77°F). The beaches are in the hands of a few visitors who prefer the mild sea temperatures in the autumn. The best time to visit the Pollino National Park in Southern Italy is in the fall when the temperatures are moderate. October is an excellent option for budget travelers in Italy, especially backpackers, who do not mind a bit of rain.
Weather in November
November is the wettest month of the year in Italy, as the precipitation ranges between 76.2mm (3") to 177.8mm (7") in the country. Naples in the south receives up to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall. The average temperatures in Brescia and Turin in the northwest register in the cold 1.7°C (35.1°F) to mild 10.6°C (51.1°F) range. Central Italy is in the zone of 3.3°C (37.9°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F). Southern Italy and the Mediterranean islands are relatively warm in the 7.2°C (45°F) to 18.3°C (64.9°F) range. The daily sunshine lasts for less than 5 hours in most places, as cloudy skies rule the roost. Evenings are often breezy, as fast fading colors and leaves signal the arrival of the winter. Early November is a chance to catch the fall foliage in its glory, especially in the countryside and high mountains. By the second half of the month, many places in the north receive frost and snow. Dress in warm jackets or at least sweaters after sunset. Expect chilly nights by the end of November in Italy.
Weather in December
December is the start of the cold and wet winter in Italy. The average temperatures in Milan and Venice in the north are in the cold range of 6.7°C (44.1°F) to 12.8°C (55°F). Prevailing cold winds bring frost and fog. Much of Italy receives 50.8mm (2") to 101.6mm (4") of rainfall. The sunlight rarely lasts for more than 3 to 4 hours in the short days of December. Alpine skiing, snowboarding, and other snow activities draw the interest of adventure seekers. The mountains offer a wealth of choice and a fairy-tale environment in the chilly days of winter. Sunny days are not rare in the south, typically on the islands, where the winter is mild. Enjoy Panettone, sweet Italian bread with citrus flavors along with a hot cup of chocolate. A glass of wine at the end of the day does wonders to settle cold noses. Christmas brings a festive mood and paints the landscape white in the northern highlands of Italy in December.