Italy in the Off-Season: A Guide to Winter in Italy

It is beautiful in winter in Italy! Although some may avoid the sun-kissed peninsula in winter, we think that Italy is an amazing destination all year. It’s winter in Italy with its festive holidays, fewer tourists and more Italians.

Are you planning a winter trip? These are the things you should wear, expect and do in Italy’s offseason.


Winter Weather

Venice is beautiful all year, but heavy winter rains can make it difficult for tourists.

Illuminated Rialto Bridge

It is possible to find mild winter weather in Italy, from the coldest and most humid parts of the country to the hottest areas in the south. Italy’s two largest cities, Rome and Naples, have the mildest winter weather. Visit Rome for Christmas celebrations at the Vatican City or Naples to to shop for artisanal Christmas Nativity Scenes. You can also see them live in the city. ).

You might be planning to visit Rome in winter. Learn more about Rome during the off-season.

Although the air temperature can be mild, December and January are still the coldest months in Italy. So prepare for some chill and damp. You can enjoy snow in the mountains, but rain in other areas of the country could cause problems. However, a raincoat or umbrella is a good idea to keep you dry. Venice is the exception to this rule, as it can experience its famous acqua alta in winter. When wind and tides combine to push water into the Venetian lagoon, the streets of La Serenissima flood. It could be an inch, two inches or even a foot of water. These cases are rare and you should just put on your boots and go wading. For more information on how you can survive flooding in Venice with dry feet, visit our blog.


What to Wear

Keep warm! The Italians aren’t afraid of the cold, and they love to stroll the streets, chat at outdoor tables, and enjoy their favorite outdoor activities all year. Their secret? Layers! Layers! This is a thick wool or cotton undershirt, or tank top, followed by your sweater, long sleeve shirt and sweater, and finally chic boots. However, you don’t have to be puffy underneath all these layers. You’ll look like a Milanese if you choose your fabrics carefully and fit your body perfectly.

You want to look like an Italian model? You can find out how to dress like an Italian in the Fall and Winter editions of How to Dress Like an Italian.

Shopping in winter is a wonderful time. The entire month of winter sales begins after Christmas in Italy. Italy does have summer sales, but you won’t need to battle the crowds in winter.


Things to Love

There are many benefits to travelling in Italy in the off-season. Here are some of our favourite things about winter in Italy.


Low prices and smaller crowds


Winter offers a unique opportunity to visit the Galleria without the crowds. Photo by Gabriele Barni

Although we love winter, it is considered off-season for Italian tourism. This is a good thing for tourists to Italy in winter. Prices will be lower and there will be fewer people. You’ll be able escape the cold from mid-November to about Easter, except for the Christmas rush. This will allow you to spend hours in your favorite Italian churches and museums without having to deal with the crowds or rush of summer tourists. Italy’s main attractions are open throughout the winter, unlike other European countries. This means that you will still be able to enjoy the best of Italy’s top attractions, minus a few days around Christmas. High season accommodation costs will drop and the peninsula, which is often quite expensive, will feel more like a budget getaway.


Sunbathing and Skiing

Because of Italy’s unique geography, it is possible to travel down the coast to the warmer south and still find warmth even in winter. This is especially true for sunny Sicily. The daytime temperature in Sicily is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with the highest being between January and February. It is still quite warm compared to North American and Northern European temperatures, even though it is colder at night and morning. You might be looking for more wintery weather? The Dolomites or Turin are all great options.


Lots of inside activities

Italy is known for its beautiful scenery. However, when it is raining or snowing outside, it is easy to stay indoors. You can also visit some of Italy’s over 25,000 churches and catch operas at Rome’s Teatro Olimpico. Or, you could try a cooking course. You can also explore the underground cities and crypts throughout Italy.


Festivals galore! (Christmas, New Year’s, Epiphany, Carnevale, and Christmas)


Colosseum Christmas tree

Although Christmastime is not necessarily the off-season in large cities, it is still a great time of year to visit Italy. You can visit the Christmas markets like the Obej Obej in Milan, Santa Croce in Florence, or the seasonal stalls in Rome’s Piazza Navona. Enjoy the decorations and the mass, as well as the parades that are held throughout Italy during Christmas.

The Epiphany is also a possibility after Christmas. It is celebrated on January 6, the day that the three wise men reached baby Jesus. The more secular side of the event is La Befana, named after the “Old Witch”, who brings gifts and candies to children on this day. It is the most popular week of winter vacation in Italy, running from New Years to La Befana. Italians love to ski and it is a very festive time. Check out our list of top Italian carnival celebrations in February and March. Winter is full of festivals celebrating local foods and religious holidays. It’s a great time to travel and soak up the culture.


Winter comfort food


Warm risotto is the perfect winter comfort food. Blue moon in her eyes (Flickr).

Italian food is our favorite, but nothing can beat Italy’s warm winter comfort foods. After a day spent sightseeing, enjoy your evening indoors with friends over a delicious dinner of hearty soups, pastas, and meat dishes. Each region of Italy has its own winter dishes, with rich sauces in the south and meats and polentas in the north. The most sought-after season begins in October and continues through November. We are talking about truffles, rare fungi which are some of the most costly foods in the world. To get an idea of the value, you can either eat them as a risotto or just shave them on pasta.


What Do You Need Before You Go

Keep in mind that winter, except for Christmas, is Italy’s lowest season. Many museums and sites are open less during winter. Museums and sites in small towns might be closed during the winter, or only open weekends. This can be avoided by researching the opening and closing hours online before you venture out into the cold.

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