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Winter in Italy

Why Visit Italy in Winter

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Sestriere, Via Lattea, Torino district, Italy
Slow Images/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Why Travel to Italy in Winter?

For people who don't mind the cold, winter can be a great time to travel in Italy. Most of Italy sees fewer tourists in winter, meaning less crowded museums and shorter or non-existent lines. During winter opera, symphony, and theater seasons are in full swing. For winter sports enthusiasts, Italy's mountains offer lots of opportunities.

Take a look at Italy travel in winter.

Italy Winter Travel in a Nutshell:

  • Bargain airfares and accommodation prices (except in holiday season)
  • Skiing and winter sports
  • Cultural events and performances in historic theaters
  • Tourist attractions and museums without big crowds
  • Experience the beauty of snow in Italy

Winter Weather and Climate in Italy

Winter weather in Italy ranges from relatively mild along the coasts of Sardinia, Sicily, and the southern mainland to very cold and snowy inland, especially in the northern mountains. Even popular tourist destinations like Venice, Florence, and the hill towns of Tuscany and Umbria can get a dusting of snow in winter. For most of Italy, the highest rainfall occurs during November and December so winter may not be as rainy as fall. Although you'll probably encounter some rain or snow you may also be rewarded with crisp, clear days.

Find historic weather and climate information for major Italian cities on Italy Travel Weather.

Winter Festivals and Holidays in Italy

Highlights of winter are the Christmas season, New Years, and Carnevale season. National holidays during winter are Christmas and the following day, New Year's Day, and Epiphany on January 6 (when La Befana brings gifts to the kids). On these days, most shops, tourist sites, and services will be closed. Carnevale, Italian mardi gras, is celebrated throughout Italy (starting ten days to two weeks before the actual date, 40 days before Easter) but the biggest festivals are in Venice and Viareggio. Here's More about these winter holidays: Many saints days are celebrated during winter. Here are top festivals and events by month:

Visiting Italy's Cities in Winter

Early winter sunsets mean more time to enjoy cities after dark. Many cities light their historic monuments at night so strolling through a city after dark can be beautiful and romantic. Winter is a good time for cultural events and performances in Italy's elegant historic theaters. Rome and Naples have the mildest winter climate of Italy's major cities. Naples is one of the top cities for Christmas nativities and many people visit Rome for the popular midnight mass on Christmas Eve in Vatican City. While you'll find smaller crowds and lower hotel prices during most of winter, Christmas and New Year's may be considered high season in many cities and Carnevale in Venice is also high season.

Tourist Attractions in Winter

Many museums and attractions have earlier closing times during winter. Outside the cities, museums and sites are often only open on weekends or may be closed for part of the winter. Hotels, B & Bs, and some restaurants may close for all or part of winter in seaside resort towns and popular summer countryside destinations, however hotels that are open often offer winter discounts (except in ski resorts). Campgrounds and hotel swimming pools are closed during winter.

Italy has many places for winter sports and skiing, including the Piedmont venues used in the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Alps and Dolomites, and Mt. Etna in Sicily. Find out more in Italy Skiing and Winter Sports.

Ready to Travel - Packing for Winter

Take a sweater, a heavy rain or snow jacket, sturdy shoes (or boots) that can be worn in rain or snow, gloves, a scarf, winter hat, and a good umbrella.

More about winter travel: Winter Travel to Europe

Italy Carnevale Photos

Carnevale is the most colorful winter festival in Italy. Here are photos from Venice carnevale celebrations tne the unusual carnevale in Ivrea, Piedmont, where they recreate a historic battle using oranges as ammunition:

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