What is the best time of year to visit Italy? Hmmm...a question I get often that has a not-so-straightforward answer. Of course, my automatic response is, "Any time!" But the real answer boils down to what you define as "the best time."
JUNE/JULY: Summer brings warmer, sunnier weather. From the northern mountains to the southern beaches, the country is at its most colorful and abundant. And, that is why you will find congested streets and over-crowded cities. Temperatures and humidity creep up during summer months, particularly in the south. And, even though most hotels provide air-conditioning, many farmhouses, inns and restaurants do not. So, if you enjoy a warm Mediterranean climate and feed off the buzz of exuberant crowds, this is your season.
AUGUST: Most Italians take their vacations in August and head to the beach. So, if a beach destination is what you had in mind, either plan early or don't go in August. Hotels and resorts book up fast and beaches are crowded. Cities, on the other hand, have minimal traffic and crowds, providing a more relaxed way to navigate the city and see the sites. Just be prepared for more retail and restaurant closings.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER: These are my favorite months to visit. Crowds lessen and temperatures fall. The countryside seems to breathe a sigh of relief after a summer of blistering sun. The hills come alive as vines burst with full ripe grapes and wineries prepare for harvest. All the while, olive trees are netted and thrashed to collect that year's crop. Afternoon showers are common and an occasional thunder storm may lull you to sleep.
NOVEMBER TO MARCH: Considering crowds, these are the best months to visit. Tourists have gone home. Winter months range from mild in the south to frigid in the very north. This may sound dreary to the average traveler, yet there is something raw and real about the area in winter--a truer life is exposed. This may be the ideal time to visit if you're looking for a flight deal, or enjoy getting a little closer to local culture.
APRIL/MAY: With the exception of Easter (when cities are crowded and shops, restaurants and monuments are closed), this is a lovely time to visit. April weather becomes mild in the south, yet you may still find enough snow for skiing in the north. You may find summer-like temps in May, but plan on packing a sweater or jacket for early mornings and evening outings.