Italy has warm, dry summers and mild winters in most regions, although there’s a marked contrast between the far north and the south. Rome is generally recognised as the dividing point between the colder north and the hotter southern regions.
The best seasons throughout the country are spring and autumn, when it’s neither too hot nor too cold in most regions.
Summers are generally very hot everywhere, and thunderstorms are common in inland areas, with average temperatures in July and August around 24C (75F). Summers are short and not too hot in the northern lake areas, while the Po Valley has warm and sunny summers but can be humid.
Summers are drier and hotter the further south you go (too hot for most people), although sea breezes alleviate the heat in coastal areas. In the south (including Rome), the scirocco wind from Africa can produce stifling weather in August, with temperatures well above 30C (86F).
Winters are mild in most areas with some wet spells. However, they’re very cold (but usually sunny) in the alpine regions, where snowfalls are frequent. The first snowfall in the Alps is usually in November, although light snow sometimes falls in mid-September and heavy snow can fall in October.
Fog is common throughout the north from the autumn through to February and winters can be severe in the Po Valley, the plains of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna.
Venice can be quite cold in winter (it frequently snows there) and it’s often flooded when there’s a high tide ( acqua alta) and strong onshore winds. Florence is also cold in winter, while winters are moderate in Rome, where it rarely snows.
The Italian Riviera and Liguria experience mild winters and enjoy a Mediterranean climate as they’re protected by both the Alps and the Appennines ( Appennini). Sicily and southern Italy have the mildest winters, with daytime temperatures between 10 and 20C (50 to 68F).
Rainfall is moderate to low in most regions and is rare anywhere in summer. The north and the Adriatic coast are wetter than the rest of Italy. There’s a lot of rain in the central regions of Tuscany and Umbria in winter, although they suffer neither extreme heat nor cold most of the year.
There’s a shortage of water in many areas during summer, when the supply is often turned off during the day and households are limited to a number of cubic metres per year.
A quick way to make a rough conversion from Centigrade to Fahrenheit is to multiply by two and add 30. Weather forecasts ( previsioni del tempo) are broadcast on TV and radio stations and published in daily newspapers.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.