If they are lucky, most people plan their Italy vacations during the summer, when the sun shines and the beaches are crowded. It is not warm or sunny in January in Italy, but there are still many great reasons to travel to Italy at the beginning of the year.
January is Italy’s “low season” for tourism. The Christmas season is over, and Easter is not until a few more months. It can be cold and dreary in January, destroying any dreams of green hills or sun-dappled squares. I will admit that January isn’t for everyone. Here’s some information about the weather and holidays in Italy if you are planning to travel to it in January.
Weather in Italy, January
It isn’t hot in January, as we have already mentioned. According to some reports, January’s last days are the coldest. Some areas of Italy will see snow while others may experience fog or rain. The weather tends to be warmer in the south, but even Sicily‘s beaches can still be found deserted in January.
This is the type of weather that will keep you inside at home. However, you don’t want stay in your hotel room while you’re on vacation. It’s possible to visit many attractions in Italy, such as museums, art galleries, and churches, indoors. However, it can be difficult to enjoy outdoor ruins in the rain. It may be clear and cold in January, so don’t rule out a trip just because it is expected to rain. It’s pretty safe to assume it will be cold.
There’s snow in the mountains – lots of snow. Skiers and snowboarders will find January to be high season. The Italian Alps, Dolomites, and ski resorts through Apennines are busy at this time. Etna, Sicily. A lot of ski resort towns have thermal spas near them, due to all the volcanic activity. This means that even if your goal is to ski, you can still take a retreat in the mountains in January, when the cold temperatures make hot springs more appealing.
Below are some average temperatures for January in different parts of Italy:
- Northern Italy: 25-45degF (-4 to 5 degC).
- Central Italy: 40-55degF (5-13degC)
- Southern Italy: 50-60°F (10-16°C)
As always, make sure to check the extended forecast for the place you are actually going before you leave. This will allow you to know in advance if it is unseasonably warm or cold.
Italy’s January Holidays and Festivals
Italy’s holiday schedule seems to be packed from beginning to end. However, not all holidays are equally heavy. Epiphany is January’s most important event. It is celebrated on January 6th and marks the end of Christmas season. Epiphany, which is not December 25th, is the day that many Italians exchange gifts. It’s also the last of “Twelve Days of Christmas” and when La Befana leaves gifts inside children’s stockings.
Find out more about La Befana, Christmas in Italy
January also marks the beginning of one of Italy’s official sales (the other is July). So if shopping is on you Italy itinerary, then you are in luck. While the prices are usually lower during sales (which typically last six weeks), the selection decreases. Look out for “SALDI” signs in shops windows. This means “SALES”, and you can head inside to treasure hunt.
Why travel to Italy in January?
If you aren’t going to winter sports, which many people do, January has very few selling points in terms of the weather. There are other benefits. It keeps summer crowds at bay which helps keep prices down on everything, from hotel rooms to airfare to guided tours.
In winter, the long lines at the Uffizi Museum in Florence and the Vatican Museum disappear. You can enjoy your cioccolata calda in peace at the Rivoire cafe, Florence’s bustling counter. The vendors are busy roasting chestnuts and pushing their carts.
Is January the best month to visit Italy? They are not completely tourist-free. You’ll still notice a difference between January and July.
You should plan your sightseeing around the shorter winter hours of many attractions. If you are traveling to a ski resort during peak ski season, all of the above about hotel rooms being cheaper doesn’t apply. You already knew this.
As I stated at the beginning, January in Italy is not for everyone. If you have a tight budget and aren’t afraid of snow or rain, it can be a great time to visit Italy.