Map from Google - Italy
In Italy there are different types of climate: mild continental in the Po Plain, cold in the Alps, Mediterranean in coasts and islands, and finally cool and windy in the Apennines. July and August are the hottest and sunniest months, except in the Alpine region where thunderstorms in the afternoon are quite frequent.
In northern Italy, the Po-Venetian plain has a moderately continental
climate. The relative humidity is high throughout the year, and the wind is normally weak, especially in the west-central part: being closed on three sides, the Po valley is one of the least windy areas in the world.
is moderate, between 25.5 and 39 inches per year, typically with two maxima in spring and autumn, and two relative minima in winter and in summer. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is close to freezing in the western part (see Alessandria and Asti in southern Piedmont), around 34/36 °F in much of the Po valley, while it reaches 36/37 °F in the eastern part, namely the Venetian Plain and Romagna. The eastern part, near the Adriatic Sea, is milder in winter but it is also exposed to outbreaks of cold air from Eastern Europe, brought by the cold wind called Bora
; during summer the eastern part it's hot and muggy like the rest of the plain, but at least during the afternoon the breezes blow from the sea.
During the winter, from December to February, sometimes in the Po valley snow
can fall, particularly in the west (Piedmont, Lombardy) and at the foot of the Apennines (in cities located along the Via Emilia, from Piacenza to Bologna
), where 8 to 15 inches of snow per year fall. More rarely, snow can occur in the eastern Romagna Plain (see Forlì, Cesena). Light frosts at night are frequent in Po-Venetian plain, while during cold waves, the temperature can drop a few degrees below freezing, with some chance of frost even during the day: at night it rarely drops below 19 °F, but in the coldest winters it can go down to 5 °F.
During winter, fog
is quite common, especially in the central areas crossed by the Po River and distant from mountain ranges (for example, in Cremona, Pavia, Mantua and Ferrara). The fog was more frequent in past decades, until the 80s, so that the airport of Milan was the foggiest in Europe, but it has become less frequent in recent years, although its been replaced by a blanket of low clouds, that often covers the plain during winter, even when in the rest of Italy (including the Alps) a high pressure area brings good weather.
, from June to August, in the Po valley is hot and muggy, with daily averages around 73/75 °F, but with a gradual heating in periods of good weather, during which the maximum temperatures can rise to around 95/97 °F. From May to August, thunderstorms in the afternoon of evening are fairly frequent in the foothills of the Alps, especially in Piedmont and Lombardy, while they are less frequent in the rest of the plain.
In northern Italy, the shores of the lakes
(Maggiore, Como, Garda
) are slightly milder and less foggy in winter, while in summer the heat is quite often broken by thunderstorms. The rainfall amount is high especially in the lakes of the north-west: in Como
, where the average in January is 38.5 °F, 52 inches of rain per year fall, with a maximum in May, of 6.3 inches, and August, of 5.3 in; even autumn is rainy, and sometimes heavy rains can raise the level of the lake.
Northern Italy is protected by the Alps from cold winds: the northerly wind can sweep wawy the blanket of mist and fog when they are intense, but descending from the mountain slopes, it is heated by compression, giving rise to the Föhn
, a dry and relatively warm wind, that blows even more often in the Alpine valleys.
As mentioned, cold spells in northern Italy come from eastern Europe.
, the average January temperature is 34 °F, that of July 73.5 °F. Here, 37 inches of rain per year fall, distributed fairly evenly, however winter is the relatively drier season with about 2.3/2.6 inches per month, while the rainiest are spring and autumn. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Milan
Sunshine is scarce from November to January, thanks to fog and low clouds, while it's good in the summer from June to August, when, however, some Atlantic fronts can approach the region, bringing some cool days, or at times thunderstorms may develop in the afternoon or in the evening. Here are the average temperatures.
Average temperatures - Milan
the temperatures are similar: the average goes from 34 °F in January to 71.5 °F in July: summer is a bit cooler, both because of the proximity to the Alps and infiltration of cool air from France. Throughout the year, 36 inches of rain fall, with a minimum in January of 1.6 in, and a maximum in May of 4.7 in.
on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, is a bit milder, and its average temperature goes from 37.5 °F in January to 73.5 °F in July. Throughout the year, 29.5 inches of rain fall; here the snow is rarer than in Milan and Turin, and in any case it's not abundant, but the city is exposed to the Bora. In mid-summer, in July and August, Venice is often muggy, except when the Bora blows, during cooler and cloudy days, or a thunderstorm breaks out in the afternoon.
Average temperatures - Venice
In the northern Adriatic Sea, the water temperature becomes pleasantly warm for swimming in summer, especially in August, although being a small and shallow sea, it may experience changes depending on weather conditions.
Sea temperature - Rimini
is outside of the Po valley and has a relatively mild climate: the average in January is 41 °F. However, the city is directly exposed to the Bora, because the wind blowing from eastern Europe is channeled through the mountain ranges and blows directly into the Gulf of Trieste, with gusts above 60 miles per hour and possible frosts from December to early March. Even in Trieste snow is quite rare, because the Bora is originally a dry wind, though sometimes its rare version called "dark Bora" can bring some snowfall in winter and some cool and rainy weather in summer. Summer is hot and humid, with a July average of 75 °F, but tempered by the breezes.
Here are the average temperatures.
Average temperatures - Trieste
Trieste is a quite rainy city: here 41 inches of rain fall in a typical year, and like in Milan, there can be thunderstorms in late spring and summer.
Alps and high mountains
The Alpine Chain, which runs through northern Italy, has a mountain climate, cold and snowy in winter, and mild in summer, with frequent thunderstorms. There are several winter sports resorts. In the highest peaks such as Mont Blanc, 15,780 feet, Monte Rosa and Matterhorn, there are also glaciers. In Italy, the snowline is a bit higher than in the north side of the Alps, and it's around 9,800 feet. In general, the west-central part of the Alps, exposed to southern winds, receives the bulk of the snow in late autumn and early winter, while the eastern part is more exposed to northern currents, thus receiving most of the snow in mid-winter and early spring.
In Bormio, Lombardy, at 3,900 feet above sea level, the average in January is 28.5 °F, and that of in July is 62.5 °F. In Corvara in Badia, in the Dolomites, at 5,000 feet, the average in January is 19.5 °F, and that of July is 55.5 °F. In Plateau Rosa station, at 11,500 feet on the slopes of Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley, the average is between 12 °F in January and 34 °F in July.
Here are the average temperatures of Dobbiaco - Toblach (Alto Adige - Südtirol), located at 3,900 feet above sea level:
Average temperatures - Dobbiaco
In valleys at the foot of the mountains (see Aosta, Trento, Bolzano
), the climate is moderately continental, with cold winters, with an average in January around freezing, and hot summers, but with lower humidity compared with the Po valley, and with cool nights. In winter it can snow, while from May to August, thunderstorms in the afternoon are fairly frequent.
The climate for which Italy is famous, ie the country of sunshine and sea, is actually found only in coastal and flat areas of the south-central, or even hills in the south, as well as the coast of Liguria in the north-west. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by mild, rainy winters and hot and sunny summers, a bit muggy but also tempered by breezes. Autumn is often rainy, especially from late September or October.
At a given latitude, the Tyrrhenian coast is slightly warmer than the Adriatic coast.
The Ligurian Riviera
has a mild climate, particularly in the western part, but it is rainy in autumn and winter. In Sanremo, the average goes from 50 °F in January, to 70 °F in July and August.
Average temperatures - Sanremo
In Genoa it's equal in summer but it's a bit lower, around 46.5 °F in January. Rainfall follows a Mediterranean pattern, with a maximum in autumn and winter, and a summer minimum. Throughout the year, 42 inches of rain fall, with a maximum in autumn of 6.7 inches in October.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Genoa
In the capital, Rome
, the average temperature goes from 45 °F in January to 75 °F in July. Districts near the sea are milder in winter and a bit cooler in summer, because of the influence of the sea and the breezes that blow in the afternoon. The air is quite humid all year round. Summer is hot and sunny, with occasional thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in July and August are around 86/90 °F, but sometimes they can exceed 95 °F.
Average temperatures - Rome
Due to the urban heat island, during the summer months the heat in the center of the city is more intense. Throughout the year, about 31.5 in of rain fall; the wettest season is autumn, followed by winter. Even the first part of spring, until April or early May, may have moderate rains. The summer drought is most evident than the Ligurian Riviera.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Rome
In winter, rainy and cloudy days alternate with sunny days. The north, wind called Tramontana
, blows at times, bringing sunny days but also cold nights, with some slight frosts.
, the climate is similar to Rome, but more temperate, given its position on the coast, and also a little more rainy in autumn and winter.
South of Naples, along the Tyrrhenian coast, the climate becomes typically Mediterranean, with an average in January that exceeds 50 °F. Sicily
is particularly mild and sunny; in the summer it's hot in inland hills, while the coasts are hot and humid but tempered by breezes. In Palermo
, the average temperature goes from 53.5 °F in January to 80 °F in August; rainfall amounts to 30 inches per year, with little or no rain in summer. The city is exposed to the warm southern wind called Scirocco
, which brings an intense heat in late spring and summer, as well as to the north-westerly wind called Maestrale, which brings cool weather and a bit of rain. In Palermo, as in the rest of the Sicilian coast, it never freezes.
Average temperatures - Palermo
, the average temperature in January is 50 °F, while in July and August it's 75 °F.
Average temperatures - Cagliari
Rainfall in Cagliari is quite scarce: just 17 inches per year, with a Mediterranean pattern, therefore, with a minimum in summer. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Cagliari
The temperature of the sea in Sardinia, as generally in the central Mediterranean, is warm enough for swimming in summer, peaking in August.
Sea temperature - Porto Cervo
Sardinia is a mild and sunny region, but it's quite windy because of the Maestrale (Mistral), a cool and dry northwest wind, which blows especially in winter and spring, and can bring sea storms on the western side of the islands and in the Strait of Bonifacio. In inland areas, however, there are highlands where the winter temperature drops by a few degrees, becoming a little cooler, so that this area falls within the climate of central Italy (see below).
On the Adriatic coast, even in Bari
, Apulia (Puglia), the climate is Mediterranean, with fairly low rainfall, typically below 23.5 inches per year. Apulia is exposed to the Scirocco
, but also to outbreaks of cold air masses from the Balkan Peninsula, which sometimes can lower the temperature in winter, bringing some snow on inland hills.
The southernmost islands (Pantelleria, Lampedusa) are very mild in winter, so that it never freezes nor snows, but they are windy and sometimes rainy. Summer is hot and sunny, but tempered by breezes, and longer than elsewhere.
As mentioned, in south-central Italy, sometimes the Scirocco
blows, a dry and warm wind from Africa, which can bring dust or even sand in the southernmost regions. When this wind is not too strong, it has the time to pick up moisture from the sea and thus becomes quite humid. The Scirocco is more frequent in spring and autumn, but it may blow in all seasons, and can raise the temperature above 68 °F in winter in the south, while in late spring and summer it brings heatwaves, with peaks of 105 °F, and sometimes even above, especially in Sicily and Apulia.
In central Italy
(Tuscany, Umbria, Marche), the climate is transitional, a little too cold in winter to be considered Mediterranean.
, the average January temperature is 43 °F, and sometimes at night it may drop below freezing. Summer is hot, sometimes torrid during the day, so that the temperature can reach 97/100 °F, even though the air is not too humid and the nights are usually cool.
Average temperatures - Florence
The region of Marche is a little milder in summer, while in winter it's exposed to cold air masses from the Balkan Peninsula, with possible snow on inland hills and sometimes even on the coast. In Umbria, during winter the north wind (Tramontana
) often blows. The hills of Tuscany
have generally a mild climate, with winters a bit cold above 1,000 feet, and hot and sunny summers, but tempered by breezes, except in some sheltered valleys that may be very hot. Snow, though rare, is not unheard of in winter, from December to February.
The Apennine Range is stretched along the Italian peninsula from Liguria, where it separates the mild Riviera from the more continental Po Valley, to the south. In cities located in the Apennines, in the middle of south-central Italy, in Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria, the climate is moderately continental, with cold winters, sometimes snowy, and warm and sunny summers, with some chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.
, central Italy (Abruzzo), at 2,300 feet above sea level, the average temperature goes from 35.5 °F in January to 70 °F in July. Throughout the year, 27.5 inches of rain fall, with a maximum in autumn and a minimum in summer. During winter it can snow and freeze, and the temperature can drop to 5/15 °F.
, southern Italy (Basilicata), 2,400 feet above sea level, the average temperature goes from 39 °F in January to 69.5 °F in July and August. During winter and early spring, snowfall is possible, while in summer the Scirocco
can sometimes raise the temperature up to 75 °F.
Average temperatures - Potenza
Above 3,300 feet, the climate gets colder, and during winter there can be heavy snowfalls. Here are the average temperatures of Mount Terminillo, 7,274 feet high and located in the central Apennines, though the weather station is located at 6,151 feet.
Average temperatures - Terminillo
In the mountains of Sicily, the climate is definitely milder. Cities at 3,300 feet are a bit foggy and windy in winter (see Enna). However, on the highest peaks, such as Mount Etna, which is the highest volcano in Europe with its 10,968 feet, in winter snow often falls. Even in Sardinia, in the massif of Gennargentu, at high altitudes the climate is similar to that of the Apennines.
When to go
The best time to visit the main Italian cities is the spring
: from mid-April to late May, the temperatures are pleasant, the days are quite long, the sun often shines and the nature is in bloom. Another good period is the first half of September. Between mid-September and mid-October, the temperatures are good, but it can rain, especially in the north and center of the country. November is typically a rainy month throughout Italy, even though the sun still shines quite often in the south. In early spring, from March to mid-April, the weather can be sunny and mild, but also cold and wet: it's a fairly unstable period.
, from June to August, is often sunny, but it can be very hot, especially in July and August; however, visitors flock to cities like Rome and Florence in this period.
The Alpine areas can be visited in the summer. For skiing, in February and the first half of March, the snow is almost always guaranteed and the days are longer than in December.
For swimming and sunbathing
, July and August are good in the north-central, and also September in the south. In June, the weather is often nice, but the sea can be still a little cool: as mentioned, the water temperature reaches 68/70 °F in June, and 75/77 °F in July and August.
What to pack
In winter: in Milan, the Po Valley and the Apennines: warm clothes, sweater, down jacket, hat, gloves and scarf, raincoat or umbrella. In the center, Florence and Rome: warm clothes, sweater, coat, raincoat or umbrella. In Palermo and the Sicilian coast: clothes for spring and autumn, sweater, jacket and raincoat. In the Alps: mountain clothing.
In summer: in the north, Milan and Venice: light clothing, t-shirt, sweatshirt or sweater, light jacket, raincoat or umbrella. In the center, Rome and Florence: light clothing, sun hat, a sweatshirt for cool evenings especially in June, possibly an umbrella. In the south, light clothing, sun hat, a sweatshirt for the evening especially in June.
In the mountains, sweater, jacket, hiking shoes, raincoat, sunscreen and sunglasses.