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Italy: When to Go

From April to June and late September to October are the best months for traveling in Italy -- temperatures are usually mild and the crowds aren't quite so intense. Starting in mid-June, the summer rush really picks up, and from July to mid-September the country teems with visitors. August is the worst month: Not only does it get uncomfortably hot, muggy, and crowded, but the entire country goes on vacation at least from August 15 to the end of the month -- and many Italians take off the entire month. Many hotels, restaurants, and shops are closed (except at the spas, beaches, and islands, where 70% of the Italians head). From late October to Easter, most attractions go on shorter winter hours or are closed for renovation. Many hotels and restaurants take a month or two off between November and February, spa and beach destinations become padlocked ghost towns, and it can get much colder than you'd expect (it might even snow).

High season on most airlines' routes to Rome usually stretches from June to the beginning of September. This is the most expensive and most crowded time to travel. Shoulder season is from April to May, early September to October, and December 15 to December 24. Low season is from November 1 to December 14 and December 25 to March 31.

Weather

It's warm all over Italy in summer; it can be very hot in the south, especially inland. The high temperatures (measured in Italy in degrees Celsius) begin in Rome in May, often lasting until sometime in October. Winters in the north of Italy are cold, with rain and snow, but in the south the weather is warm all year, averaging 50ŶF (10ŶC) in winter.

For the most part, it's drier in Italy than in North America, so high temperatures don't seem as bad because the humidity is lower. In Rome, Naples, and the south, temperatures can stay in the 90sŶF (30sŶC) for days, but nights are most often comfortably cooler.

Holidays

Offices and shops in Italy are closed on the following national holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day), Easter Monday, April 25 (Liberation Day), May 1 (Labor Day), August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin), November 1 (All Saints' Day), December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), December 25 (Christmas Day), and December 26 (Santo Stefano).

Closings are also observed in the following cities on feast days honoring their patron saints: Venice, April 25 (St. Mark); Florence, Genoa, and Turin, June 24 (St. John the Baptist); Rome, June 29 (Sts. Peter and Paul); Palermo, July 15 (St. Rosalia); Naples, September 19 (St. Gennaro); Bologna, October 4 (St. Petronio); Cagliari, October 30 (St. Saturnino); Trieste, November 3 (St. Giusto); Bari, December 6 (St. Nicola); and Milan, December 7 (St. Ambrose).

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