When to Go

Italy is made for year-round exploration. In the summer, the sun-splashed beaches of Naples and Capri beckon. In the fall, the olive oil harvest lures families and friends around long picnic tables to feast on wild game and white truffles. In wintertime, cobblestone streets sparkle with twinkling Christmas lights. Come spring, roasted suckling lamb graces tables, and this nation of Catholics gears up for carnival season -- the most famous is held on the canals of Venice.

Temperatures are generally mild from April to June and September to early November. Come mid-June, the summer heat rushes throughout Italy, intensifying through mid-August. It can get hot in the summer, particularly in establishments without air conditioning. In winter, temperatures are moderate in southern Italy, with places like Palermo, Sorrento and Bari seeing average lows in the 50s. In cities of the north, like Venice, Trieste and Genoa, average temperatures in winter drop to the 30s and 40s.

Keep in mind that Italians generally like to take long vacations themselves. August is a popular time for Italians to take off, so many inland shops and restaurants are closed during that month. But around the islands, ports and beaches, these businesses remain open because that’s where many Italians are vacationing.

Tourist season for Italy generally starts in June, continuing through early September (when school starts). Low season starts in late October, continuing through the end of March. The Mediterranean cruise season for Italy spans January to December, with abundant choices in spring and fall.

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