Average WEATHER IN ITALY
Please go here for daily Italy weather forecast
Weather in Italy: Italy is not a huge country - nothing compared to the US, and there are no huge differences in climate like those that exist when you compare Michigan to, say, Florida so you can take the following notes that I am writing about Rome and consider that Milano in the north is on average probably 10-20 degrees F colder and Palermo in Sicily is 10-20 degrees warmer.
Weather in Rome
I lived in Rome approximately 20 years and I still go to Rome from Washington D.C. about 5 times a year.
Although there are seasons in Rome, the weather is relatively mild in the winter, at least in comparison to D.C., and of course. Rome has a snow storm only once every 10 years or so. While you can expect fair weather all year around, there are greater chances of rain in the winter months. In the exceptional event of a snow storm, the city becomes immobilized and everybody goes out to take picture. Some enthusiasts even take out their skis to try them on the slopes of one of the hills on which Rome is built. However, such unusual climatic episodes last for only a short time, and normally after about 24 hours the snows melt, and a pale winter sun creeps out from behind the clouds. Summers in Rome are hot but (except for summer 2003) tend to be not as unbearably humid as D.C. summers. While the midday temperatures can be quite warm, when the sun goes down the evenings become very comfortable and enjoyable and encourage a lively night life with restaurants and other attractions remaining open until early morning hours. Few houses have air conditioning in Italy because even when it gets hot it is still more or less acceptable (OK maybe not by US standards), and also Italians have a deep-rooted distrust of sleeping in air conditioned rooms which they consider can produce all kinds of ailments ranging from sore throat to rheumatism. Fortunately, in the city most hotel accommodation of reasonable standard has air conditioning.
One place where you can surely feel warmer during the summer in Italy compared to the US is inside an office building! I do not know why but in US office buildings it tends to be colder in the summer than in the winter …. I guess there is still lot of energy to burn…. Also, since Rome is expected to have a relatively climate, houses are not as well insulated or heated as in the US, so when outside it is cold, houses tend to be on the chilly side. The high cost of energy in Italy also contributes to the parsimonious use of heating (or air conditioning).
Weather forecasting in Italy
OK, when you read the weather forecasts in Italy, I have to admit they do not come even close to the US accuracy. I have no idea if this is due to Italy's geographical location being a small, narrow nation surrounded by mountains and sea, or if it is because Italian weather men 'do not even look out the window' :-)
Dry rope : sunny
Wet rope: rainy
Hard Rope: cold
Invisible rope: Fog or drink less
Rope moving: wind
Without rope: They stole it
Anyway, I noticed that Italian weather forecasts (also the one offered here on my web site) are somehow more 'pessimistic' for the traveler (possibly optimistic for the farmer). During the winter, on my weather map you see very often the image of a cloud over Rome and maybe rain… While this image conjures up ideas of day-long battles with drizzle or downpour, in fact the reality is that it might rain only 1 hour at night and all day long the weather would be fine. On this occasion (end of November 2005) I checked the weather just before leaving the US. The forecast was showing showers and cold weather for the next 5 days or so in Rome. I arrived here and I did find the cold weather prediction to be accurate, but I still have to see some day-time rain. So unless there is an indication of a 100% chance of rain, chances are that the weather will be acceptable. Sometimes it is even better than July weather: Did you try to walk those roman ruins when the outside temperature is 100 degrees - Ok it might not be that humid … but it is not going to be that much fun either.
Eat al fresco
I particularly like Rome in the late spring and early autumn since it offers plenty of places to walk and eat 'al fresco' (or in one of the many outdoors establishments). During the summer you can eat al fresco until late in the evening.
June to September are the ideal months, with the season opening earlier and ending later as you move down the Italian "boot". In Sicily people were still swimming at the beginning of November this year.
Spring and autumn are the best - except that during the summer at night there is the Estate Romana which offers more entertaining events than at any other time of the year.
Since there is no skiing in Rome it depends on where you go but of course December to early March is about the standard. Later, the days are beautiful and full of sunshine but the snow gets mushy.
Motorcycling / Cycling
March offers already acceptable temperatures - Better wait for April / May anyway. June also is good but it might be hot. July and August could be quite hot (however, it is very, very rare to see rain in July). September is just about perfect - October is acceptable, while from November to February it is a matter of finding a nice day.
South vs North
Of course Sicily offers warm days almost all year around, while the North has greater chances of rain (and snow). Thus, for example Umbria which is on hills near the Appennini, an area that I visit often, has more rain than Lazio or Campania.
Extreme cold is also possible in Italy. Last winter (2004) a town in Umbria recorded an incredible minus 40 degrees centigrade, so while chances of fair weather are pretty good all year around chances of extremely hot or cold weather are still possible. In fact there has been a lot of discussion in recent years about climate change and the possible impacts on Italy, with summers becoming hotter and more humid, winters becoming colder and rainstorms becoming more violent. Let's see how things go this year, and then we can talk again about the 'typical' Italian climatic conditions around this time in 2006. See you then, and in the meantime happy travels!