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  • What Is the Best Time of Year to Go to Italy?

    Find out when you should pack your bags and head to the Boot to maximize the return on your vacation
    Our Paesani

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    People plan dream vacations to Italy all the time. Some sock away money for years to make it happen. Some want to see the history, some want to taste the food, and some want to meet their families or discover the land of their ancestors. While people consider airfare, accommodations, and what they want to see and do, they don't always know what's happening in Italy in any given season.

    Truly, to get a good return on your investment, you should carefully choose when you take this dream vacation. Discover the pros and cons of each season:

    Summer

    This is the obvious choice for many families because kids have time off from school, and it's often easier to get away from office jobs in these typically slower months. The problem is twofold. First, everyone else is in the same boat, so the country is loaded with tourists from all over the place, including other nearby European countries and Italy itself. You will find even more people in tourist spots around the country during the month of August, when many Italian businesses close down for anywhere from two weeks to the entire month.

    Second, because there is so much demand for airline tickets, the prices tend to be highest during this time, especially if you wait until the last minute to plan. The price increases if you are planning to visit family or ancestral homes, which tend to be remote and require more than one flight.

    Still, if you can afford to go in the summer and don't mind the crowds, the sun will likely be shining. If you head south or on the coast, you can check out Italy's beautiful beaches, such as the ones on the island of Ischia, home of my ancestors and husband, which is off the coast of Naples.

    Remember, however, that air conditioning is not as ubiquitous in Europe as it is in the United States. You may find yourself overheating. Ask hotel staff about the availability of AC in your room before you make a reservation. Feel free to stay cool by way of eating your weight in gelato. Always works for me!

    Fall

    Autumn is one of the best times to visit Italy. I am definitely bias; my husband and I wed in Italy in early October. The weather is usually not too hot and not too cold. If you are down south, you may even be able to take a dip in the sea or pools during the day. My wedding guests went both into the sea and thermal pools while staying in Ischia in late September and early October.

    Another benefit to this time of year is the fact that tourists from Europe, Italy, and the United States and Canada are all back at work and school. So, you don't have to fight the crowds. The other plus is the price of airline tickets tends to be lower, especially if you head to Italy in November. The only caveat to choosing late fall is that some hotels and restaurants, especially on the islands and coast in the south, shut down for the winter.

    Winter

    Winter is coming and it is not the ideal time to travel to Italy, unless you are heading north and want to go skiing. In that case, you will love this time of year. The reason this time period draws some people is the cheap airfare. However, you must realize that many tourist towns, especially those known for their beaches, are basically close for the winter, unless you're going for the Christmas and the new year holidays. In much of the winter, you might have trouble finding places to stay and eat. Other attractions may be closed as well. In fact, in Ischia, many places close and the staff head out of the island for jobs in other parts of Italy and Europe, or they take their own vacations during this time of year.

    Another consideration is the cold weather can be brutal. Just like with the air conditioning, the heating in homes and businesses, including hotels and restaurants, is not what Americans are used to.

    Many establishments only use heat for a few hours at night, especially in the south. Because some of the coastal areas and islands are particularly humid, you will feel the chill in your bones. Elderly people, babies, and young children are particularly vulnerable to bronchitis or even pneumonia in this kind of climate. (Many in my family have confronted bronchitis on our trips to Ischia for Christmas or in January or February, and my brother was hospitalized after getting pneumonia on a trip when he was a kid.)

    Spring

    The spring is a lovely time for a trip to Italy. Many people head to Rome in time for Holy Week and the Easter holiday. Of course, many American schools have spring break, which means the whole family can go. Just as in the summer, you might find tourism peak in the spring. But it won't be quite as packed as it is in the summer, especially since spring breaks tend to be spread out over the months of March and April. The week of Memorial Day has worked out well for me in the past. Again, toward the end of the season, you might be able to get in some beach or pool time.

    Flowers are beginning to bloom and the temperatures are only just starting to rise. You might find yourself getting caught in the rain. But you won't melt, and it could be worth it. If you opt to go to Italy for Holy Week and Easter, you will likely spend more money on airline tickets. But the rest of spring is usually more affordable.

    Ultimately, the best time for your trip to Italy depends on your personal calendar and where in the country you plan on going. Knowing about what the weather and airline ticket prices are like, however, can help you make the best decision for your family and you.

    Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press, 2012). She also has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.


    Article Published 05/06/19

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