Italy Weather, climate and geography

Weather & climate

Given its long boot-like shape and varied geography, the weather in Italy varies considerably from north to south. In the alpine north of the country, cold, harsh winters with heavy snowfall are typical between December and March, while summers are sunny and fresh. Around the northern Italian lakes, however, a mild microclimate prevails, benefitting the olive groves and tropical gardens that surround the lake, most of which come into spectacular bloom between April and June.

In central Italy, beyond the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the climate is milder and wetter with a less pronounced difference between summer and winter temperatures. Summer lingers longer and city centres, such as Florence, Siena and Rome can experience stifling humidity especially during July and August.

In the south, summers are far hotter and drier and temperatures more akin to those in North Africa prevail, often reaching above 30°C. Snow is rare and winter is especially mild, making the southern tip of the peninsula and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia ideal late season destinations.

Best time to visit

Italy is a great destination to visit year round, particularly if taking a city break, though for the warmest and most reliable weather April to June is the prime tourist season. Most Italians take their holiday in July and August so prices, and crowds, can soar during these months, which are also the hottest of the year. If you’re keen to avoid the main scrum of peak season but still bank on mild weather, late September to October is a good choice.

Required clothing

Lightweight clothes are worn during the summer, except in the mountains. Winter demands light- to mediumweights in the south, but warmer clothes elsewhere. Alpine wear is advised for winter mountain resorts.

Geography

Italy is situated in Europe, with a long coastline of approximately 7,600km (4,720 miles) stretching into the Mediterranean Sea and a mountainous northern border adjoining France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. This northern Alpine region contains some of the highest peaks in Europe and is a good area for winter sports.

In central Italy, Tuscany has a diverse landscape composed of fertile rolling hills, lush river valleys, minor mountain ranges and a long sandy coastline. To the east is Umbria, known as the ‘green heart of Italy'; hilly with broad plains, olive groves and pines, and Le Marche – a region of gentle mountains, rivers and small fertile plains.

Further south lies Rome, Italy's capital city. Within its precincts is the Vatican City. The south of the country is hotter, wilder and much, much drier than the north, characterised by dry sierras, rocky mountain ranges and volcanic outcrops, including three of Europe’s most active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. Puglia, the ‘heel of the boot', is a mixed landscape of fertile plateaus, expansive olive groves and flat, ochre-coloured plains. The islands of Sicily and Sardinia lie offshore to the south-west and west respectively.

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