When to fly to Italy
Seaside and mountain hotels in Italy are busy from June to September. The mountain ski season is December through April. Despite the heat and humidity, the cities are busy April through October, particularly June and July, and Christmas and New Year’s. Venice is also very busy during Carnival (February).
The crowds are less intense and the weather perfect April through May and September through October. Plan a trip December 15 through 24 and you’re likely to find good flight deals to Italy.
The off season usually runs from November to mid-December, and December 25 to March 31. Most attractions go on shorter winter hours or are closed for renovation. August is when most Italians take their vacations and close their shops and businesses.
Italians live la dolce vita, enjoying good food, good wine and good conversation. Every region and city has its own culinary specialty – risotto in Veneto, pesto in Liguria, ham in Parma, artichokes in Rome, balsamic vinegar in Modena, and, of course, pizza in Naples. The Italians have a word for it – campanilismo, which means “loyalty to your own bell tower”. This philosophy ensures that local culinary traditions endure and thrive.
And away from the food, there is nothing to compare with sitting in a cafe set among ruins in Rome, surveying the green and rolling hills in Tuscany, vaporetti plying their trade on the canals of Venice, masterpiece-stuffed museums and churches, shopping in Milan and people-watching … the Italians are a stylish lot with a passion for fashion and an eye for fine design.
Italy is a four-season destination. Book flights to Italy for sightseeing in the big cities and small towns, skiing in the winter or basking on the sandy beaches of the Amalfi Coast, the South and on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.
Italy’s climate changes with the region. Summers in northern Italy are warm and sometimes rainy. It’s humid in central Italy and hot and dry in the south. Winters are cold, damp and foggy in the north, near-freezing in the centre of the country and mild in the south. Temperatures on the coast are the same regardless of their location. The mountain areas have a much bigger difference between summer and winter and snow can start falling as early as mid-September.
Trains are extensive, throughout Italy. The north is better connected with all types of transport (trains and low-cost airlines) than the south.
Most Italian cities’ historic centres are best covered on foot. When walking around Venice, allow extra time for getting lost — it’s bound to happen. For all cities, bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes as there are lots of cobblestones. Public transportation is the best way to travel in a city. Rome and Milan have underground trains, buses, and trams, and Florence and Bologna have buses. Venetian public transportation is water buses and ferries.
Taxis are available in most cities in Italy, and water taxis in Venice. Either call for one or get one at a taxi stand. In Bologna, the network of one-way streets is so convoluted that taking a cab can be very expensive.
Mopeds are popular in Rome and Florence. Bicycling is difficult in Florence, but possible.
Ferry service between the mainland and the islands is good and regular but slow.
(prices quotes are from London)