O sole mio is a Neapolitan song that makes us all think of Summer, when the sun shines everywhere. A lot of people think about Italy as a place to visit during the hot season, but the country is really more of a four-season destination.
Climate and weather change according to the geographical area you go, yet you will find something interesting to do whichever destination you choose.
The weather in the Winter
From the perspective of weather and climate, Italy is far from homogeneous. Temperatures vary according to the geographical area and most of the times they differ within the same region. Just as so many other things in Italy, though, we can find three, roughly delineated climatic areas, corresponding to the north, the centre and the south of the country.
In the North, Winters are very harsh and cold. Snow falls on most of the northern towns and temperatures are quite low. In the Center, the situation changes much from area to area, just as it happens in the South. In the upper part of central Italy, Winters are quite cold and sometimes snowy. The same happens in the South, as the mild climate of the coastal areas is balanced out by the rigid temperatures of the Apennine's regions.
Mountains, snow and skiing
If you like mountains and winter sports, the North will welcome you with beautiful ski resorts, where you will have a lot of fun. If you do not mind the cold, there are several destinations you can choose from. Valle d'Aosta, Piedmont and Trentino are the most charming places to spend your "Winter wonderland" holidays.
If you choose the central regions of the peninsula for your holidays, some places will give you the opportunity to enjoy snow-capped mountains, too. However, you should keep in mind the Centre is not a typical destination for skiing holidays.
Climate is not as harsh as in the North, which makes it a perfect place if you want to enjoy, for instance, the beauty of an art city. Actually, the Winter is perhaps the best period to visit monuments, museums and engage in every sort of cultural activities, as locations are not less crowded than during the Summer, and you will spend much less time queueing.
In the South, temperatures can be quite mild: it is not hot, but you will not freeze. Obviously, it also depends on the year, but it is certainly the warmest part of the country. Much also depends on the place you go: Sicily, Calabria and Basilicata also offer the opportunity to enjoy a classical wintery weather with snow and cold in some parts of their territory.
Winter festivals and events
Winter is a typical time for traditional festivals and fairs. Christmas is certainly the main protagonist of the season: each place gets prepped up with Christmas decorations, nativity scenes and beautiful Christmas trees. If you want to know more about the arte presepiale, nativity scenes' art, and tradition you should visit Naples, particularly renowned for its Christmas creations that, very often, include statuettes not strictly linked to Nativity and Christmas.
Artists of the field love to produce beautiful renditions of the people and the characters who have been at the centre of attention during the previous twelve months. This usually makes for an entertaining and sometime un-p.c. form of nativity scenes. Also, during the month of December many towns host peculiar Christmas markets.
New Year's Day and the Epiphany are the other two main holidays of the Italian winter.
New Year's Day is a day for celebration, parties and firework. People toasts with spumante everywhere, and often free concerts and events are organized in public squares all over the country. The Epiphany is the day of the Befana, characterized by street markets selling stockings filled with chocolate, candies and sweet coal, in case you did not behave during the previous year.
Italy is a perfect destination all year round. If you prefer cold weather and want to take advantage of the beauty of the Alps and the snow, or enjoy the most amazing cities without the crowds of the summer, pack your suitcase and come over: Italy is waiting for you!