It’s January in Italy: What you Need to Know

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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.

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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.

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51 Responses to “Traveling To Italy In January: What You Should Know”

  • Maria Marinoglou says:

    Are you aware of the exact date that January sales begin? Are you able to identify the dates of January sales starting on January 2,4, or 5? Thank you

    • Jess has the following:

      Maria, I am afraid this information has not been published yet. Maria, the site I used to look up the sales dates still shows the 2016 dates. However, you can bookmark it to make sure. It is listed in the highlighted section in my ” official sale seasons in Italy” article.

  • Kate says:

    Hi Jessica! My boyfriend and I would like to spend a few days in Italy in January with our one year old baby. It’s the only time that we have for a while. We will rent a small apartment to go out for lunches, then cook in the apartment while the baby is asleep. What city would you recommend? Rome, I have heard, isn’t very friendly to buggy travel! Thank you

    • Jess has the following:

      Thank you, Kate. While there are many Rome neighborhoods that have perfectly smooth sidewalks and some others – Trastevere or Monti are two examples – they are all cobblestone streets which, while not ideal for babies, can make it a difficult ride. However, I don’t think any smaller towns would be better. Some smaller towns have hills that make pushing a stroller difficult. It’s possible to be okay in Rome as long as your plans are not to only explore Trastevere and Monti. Tiffany is @ThePinesOfRome on Twitter. She had a baby last January and might have some insight.

      • Kate says:

        We appreciate your advice. I will be sure to consider Rome as we have never been. Many thanks Kate

  • Kay:

    My son, 23 years old, and I will be staying in Florence as our home base from 01/09/17-01/17/17. We will be flying into Milan and we will have a car to rent, but are also open to taking organized tours. What suggestions do you have?

    • Jess has the following:

      Kay, here’s my Florence City Guide. You don’t need a rental car if you are going to Florence for the entire trip. It’s possible to travel from Milan to Florence by train. However, it can be difficult to find a car in Florence. But, I don’t know what else you are asking. You can find links to the Florence guide that list things to do in Florence. If you have any questions not answered by these links, please let me know!

  • Ahmed

    Jessica,

    I am planning to spend my honeymoon in Italy between mid January and early February. I plan to visit several cities such as Rome Napoli Milan Florence, etc. Do you think it is worth visiting?

    We are grateful

    • Jess has the following:

      There is no bad time to visit Italy. You just need to be aware of the weather conditions so that you can plan your activities accordingly. This is my winter guide to Italy. At the bottom, you’ll find information about the “pros” and “cons” of a winter trip in Italy so that you can decide if this sounds appealing to you.

    • Donna Wren says:

      For our 50th anniversary celebration, we’ll be going to Florence in December. We have booked a 3-star hotel which we believe will be very nice.

      • Jess has the following:

        Congratulations on your anniversary! Enjoy your trip.

        • Donna Wren says:

          Jessica, the hotel that we booked (Hotel Laurus Duomo), somehow released our credit cards number. Since then, we have had many problems with our credit cards. The hotel will not answer our emails! This is very disappointing, considering that this hotel is already listed on many websites.

  • Lori says:

    Hi. Hi. I will be traveling solo to Italy in January. So far, I will be going only to Rome and Milan. Would you recommend I visit Florence or Venice? I will only be staying in each city for 2 days. Thanks!

    • Jess has the following:

      Lori, thank you for your note. Lori, thanks for the note. To get you started, here’s my Florence City Guide and my Venice City Guide. You should also consider transportation times and routes to help you estimate how long it will take you to get from one place into the next. You can find more information about planning the perfect Italy vacation.

      • lori says:

        Thanks! I was inspired by your articles, so I did more research after I had written the post. It will all come down to the wire, I believe. This is difficult because the cities offer different experiences.

        • Jess has the following:

          They are indeed! You should also keep an eye out for holidays and festivals that are coming up in the next year. Venice can seem a little ghost town in winter. Except when Carnevale is on, then it is bustling with people. It could come down to which attractions or activities you like.

      • Donna Wren says:

        Jessica, we have been to Venice and Florence. Florence is our favorite. There are many other things to do in Florence.

  • Danae says:

    Hii! Hi! We will be traveling to Milan from the 30th December to the 4th January. I’m curious about the 1st January, as I know Milan will still be alive. We are looking for a place to celebrate a holiday. Como, Venice or somewhere else? I was also told to go to Navigli or Brera for New Years Eve. I haven’t been there so i don’t know if they will host a night event to welcome in the new year. Please, can you give me some advice?

    • Jess has the following:

      Danae, thank you for your note! Although some attractions may be closed, I don’t believe Milan will be “dead”, as it is not technically dead. You might still be able see/do Milan depending on your interests. Just make sure to check the hours of any museums and other attractions that you are interested in visiting. Milan is a large enough city to never close. The Navigli area is a popular spot for nightlife all year, so you can be sure there will be something happening on New Year’s Eve. A public concert may be held in Piazza del Duomo. You can read my article New Year’s Eve in Italy and this Milan tourism portal to learn more about New Year’s Eve specials.

  • Jessica Santi says:

    Jessica,

    My mother and I will be traveling to Rome, Florence, Venice, with our seventh month old, from January 12th to 23rd. I have been twice to the Vatican, but the tickets were handled by a tour company. Tickets can be very expensive so I was advised to expect long lines. I tried to buy them online but had problems. Is it possible to buy them online, but the lines are long in January for entry to the Vatican.

    Additionally, I took the bus to Rome both times that I was there with students. This time, I’m on my own. What is the best way to transport the baby on the bus or subway? Your help is greatly appreciated.

    We are so grateful. Happy New Year!

    • Jess has the following:

      Jessica, thank you for your kind words! Fantastic name.

      Last but not least, the bus is an essential in Rome. There are only two Metro lines. I would be surprised if the Metro went to every location in Rome, but you should check out the routes. This is my article about moving around in Rome.

      A guide makes the Vatican Museums much more enjoyable and meaningful. The tickets are always included in every tour I have taken. However, I recommend that you get your tickets in advance if you are interested in a self-guided tour or an audio guide once you have arrived. What difficulties did you encounter when you tried to buy tickets online? It’s difficult to find the official online ticketing office website, but it appears to be working. Have you received an error message?

      • Jessica Santi says:

        Lol, Jessica!

        Thank you for your response. I will definitely use the bus. I was very spoilt traveling with students.

        always having door-to-door service around Rome.

        Since I have a baby with me, I will be doing the audio guided tour. We can travel at our own pace. My problem with the Vatican website was that after I completed all the steps, it told me there was an error. I tried two different cards and tried several times. I tried to email them, but they did not respond.

        Your answers are greatly appreciated. It will be my fifth time in Rome, but I feel like a complete novice since I’m traveling with my infant and my mother, who have never traveled abroad. So nervous!

        • Jess has the following:

          You might consider switching to a different browser in the event that this is the problem. One never knows. If you are staying in a good hotel with a concierge or another helpful person at the reception, they may be able to call the ticket booking number for you and get you your tickets when you arrive in Rome.

  • Abid says:

    Hi Jessica

    We would like to fly to Milan and then hire a car to drive to Bologna. After staying there for a day, drive to Venice. After a few days in Venice, we will return to Milan. Our short stay in Milan will end. We are planning to travel between the 12th and 20th of January. I have one question: What are the driving conditions between these two places in January? Is there snow or ice on roads?

    • Jess has the following:

      Abid, thanks for your note! It’s better to take the high-speed trains than drive between these cities. It’s very easy to travel between Milan, Bologna and Venice with the fastest trains. It is difficult to drive within the center of the cities you have on your list (Milan, Bologna), or impossible (Venice) – there are no cars! ).

      • Abid says:

        Hi Jessica

        I was just looking at trains. I was just thinking that the car would allow us more flexibility. I will probably park the car at the hotel and use it to travel between places.

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello,

    We are going to Italy next January with our husband. We plan on staying in Tuscany and taking cooking classes. We wanted a place that offers both accommodation and cooking classes. It seems impossible to find such a place. Does Tuscany close down at this time of year? Many thanks!

    • Jess has the following:

      Given the popularity of Tuscany, very few places are “shut down”. However, schedules might be reduced from high season availability. If a cooking class is held out of someone’s house and they provide accommodation, sometimes the owners will need to take a vacation. There are a few multi-day Tuscany cooking classes that include lodging.

  • JULIE LLEWELLYN writes:

    Jessica! I’m considering Italy for 89 days (maximum without Visa) January/Feb/March 2018. I would like to spend 3-4 week in various locations, off the beaten track, but with easy access to trains. The Lecce region looks amazing, but the infrastructure to travel to Bari/Palermo/Naples is not very accessible. Do you believe me?

    For 3-4 weeks, I’m also interested in Ancona. I’m open to any area and would love your opinions. I travel solo, with one bag. I want to fully immerse myself into the culture and experience every area for its uniqueness. If I feel the need, I will go out. I’ve been to Venice, Florence, Rome, and Rome.

    • Jess has the following:

      Brava! 89 days in Italy sounds like a great use of your time. Although I haven’t been to Lecce yet, it does have a train station. It takes 1.5 hours to reach Bari and 5 hours to reach Naples (with one transfer). If you don’t fly, it is a long trip to Palermo. The drive plus the ferry takes about 8.5 hours. Ancona’s mountains make it more difficult to travel by train because of their location in central Italy. The Rome2Rio website is a good place to start putting together some trips. It will give you an idea of the time it takes for each option (buses, trains, driving, etc.). It will take you from point A to B.

  • Clinton Mak says:

    Is it generally low season in Italy? I plan to travel from Venice/Siena/Pisa to Rome/Naples from February 27th (Arriving at 5pm from Rome) and return on February 10, 2017. (Departure at 5pm from Rome). Do you think that each destination will require 2 days?

    Malaysia Greeting

  • Julie Rashleigh

    Hi Jess! We’re planning our third trip to Italy in January. This time we want to visit smaller towns than we have done the bigger touristy ones. We are considering Sorrento and Verona, Verona, Como, and possibly Cinque Terre. We are most concerned about the possibility of these smaller cities being shut down. What are your thoughts? The greatest concern is Cinque Terre. Is it better to visit Cinque Terre from another location or continue our journey?

    • Jess has the following:

      Here is my information on Cinque Terre. It also includes some tips and tidbits about its off-season. It doesn’t close down. However, bad weather can make it difficult to hike the trails most people love. Winter weather to me means skiing (or other winter activities), or indoor attractions such as museums and art galleries. I would suggest that you have a list of indoor activities to do in all potential destinations.

  • Brenston:

    Hello Everyone! !

    This January I will be in Sicily, staying in Palermo. Is it going to be cold? Is it mainly raining in sicily?

    • Jess has the following:

      My Italy weather page has some historical averages of Palermo’s temperature. However, these are only averages that have been updated recently and may not reflect current conditions. This information is a great place to start. However, it is best to verify the current weather conditions and temperatures in the weeks prior to your trip to ensure you have enough packing supplies.

  • Jo jo doman says:

    Jessica,

    From the end of February to the middle of March, I will be traveling to Italy. I can’t decide whether to go there in March or February. This will be our first trip to Venice. I checked the weather in Venice. It indicated that it was likely to have more rain and winter-like weather. There are so many beautiful natural scenes to behold during this time. You might also be interested in any festivals or other events.

    We are grateful

  • Emily

    Jessica,

    We will travel to Italy in January, February, and March 2018. (similar to the comment above re. max. Time without a visa) with our three children – 8 and 6, and 2. Although we have been to many big cities, we want to find some good locations to base ourselves so that we can have plenty to do with our kids. Any suggestions? We are specifically looking for smaller cities that are connected and family-friendly. My ideas include Bologna, Lucca and Lecce. Thanks!

    • Jess has the following:

      Bologna is a great choice, due to its proximity to the high-speed rail network as well as being a young university city. Although it is a bit larger than the rest, the historic centre can be walked. Lucca is charming and easy to reach by train. It is also very kid-friendly. You can cycle or walk all the way around the city walls. Orvieto, which can be reached by train, is a great place to visit an underground network of caves. Although I haven’t been to Lecce yet, I would be willing to wager that there will be warmer temperatures (especially in March). It sounds like a beautiful town from what I’ve read and heard.

  • NT says:

    Hi Jessica !! Thank you for your article on January travel to Italy. Italy is my first trip and I will be there for work. After finishing work, I have two more days. Considering the weather, which place should I visit? I’ve read about Milan’s many train stations, but am not sure which one is better for the weather. Please let me know.

    • Jessica says:

      For your reference, here’s my article about the best day trip from Milan. You can make last-minute plans for a day trip. I recommend that you consider the weather before making a decision. If the weather is bad, a museum- or church-rich place like Turin or Florence or Bologna may be an option. However, if it’s sunny, a trip to one of the lakes might not be so bad. Enjoy your trip!

  • Edna says:

    We are planning to visit Rome in January 2018. Do you think there will be any good sales?

    Florence is the best place to shop for cloths on-line. Between 14 and 20 January?

    Which one is best for sales?

    We are grateful

    Edna

  • Pratik says:

    Hi Jessica

    From 1-15 January, I plan to travel to central and southern Italy. Is the sky clear in these areas during the period 1-15 January? What is the average rainfall in these areas during this time?

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