February is one of the best months to visit Italy if you are on a tight budget. When it comes to travelling, spring and summer are preferred to the winter months because of the warm, pleasant weather. For this reason airfares and hotels tend to offer better deals to customers during the colder months. February, however, is also a month famous for Carnevale, especially in some parts of the country (Venezia and Viareggio, for instance): these areas are usually just as expensive then as they are during the summer months. Keep it in mind when you book!
Italy’s Weather in February
February in Italy can be quite cold. Northern regions are colder because of their proximity to the Alps. Central Italy is usually warmer, but still chilly. If you choose to travel to the South, a pleasant, temperate climate will welcome you: if you are looking for an escape from winter and its chills, southern Italy is the place for you.
Northern Italy is definitely the coldest area of the country because of its proximity to the mountains, as we said already. In urban areas, the average temperatures usually go from -3 to 8 degree Celsius (27 to 47 degrees Farenheit). Precipitations -including snow- are high throughout the month. If you intend to visit the countryside or the mountains, keep in mind temperatures are colder than in the cities. Most people in Italy go skiing during this time of the year. If you don’t like skiing, it’s still a good idea to go to one of the many “baite” (chalet) along the slopes to enjoy the sunshine, the clean air and the delicious traditional food of the mountains.
In Central Italy, including Rome, temperatures run approximately from 7 to 13 degrees Celsius (39 to 55 degrees Farenheit). Precipitations are frequent but snow is rare (in Rome it snows only once every few years).
In Southern Italy and Sicily, winters are quite mild with temperatures between 11 to 15 degrees Celsius (51 to 59 degrees Farenheit). Precipitations are not as frequent as in the rest of the country, although it usually does not snow.
Italian weather in february.
Reasons to Travel in February
There are plenty of good reasons February is a nice month to travel to Italy: the first is that airfares and hotels are tendentially lower than during the rest of the year, which means you may manage to stay for longer, in higher standard accomodation. Because February is considered low season, there won’t be too many tourists around, a definite plus if you’re looking for a taste of real Italy, without having to queue or listening to too much English around you.
The other reason to choose February for your Italian holiday is, of course, the world famous celebration of Carnevale. Carnevale is popular all over the country, but some cities are particularly famous for it, Venice possibly being the best example. A relaxed, playful atmosphere characterizes this period of the year, which lasts around a couple of weeks. Check out the calendar of the events taking place in Venice during this period. From the opening with the “volo dell’Angelo” to the Best Masked Costume Contest, they will be three busy weeks!
But February is also the month of Saint Valentine: those travelling with their partners should definitely opt for Venice, and go for a romantic gondola ride, followed by a sumptuous dinner. Another reason why Venice can be a perfect place to visit in February is, as we mentioned already, its fantastic Carnevale. If you are not interested in Carnevale or Valentine’s Day, then head to the Alps and enjoy some time skiing, or to the South, where the weather is milder and the sun shines high even during the winter. If you are into swimming, you may like the idea of choosing one of the many Hot Springs resorts in the country.
February Festivals: Carnevale and More
February is a big month in Italy in terms of festivals. The best known celebration is certainly Carnevale, although it is far from being the only one.
Carnevale is celebrated all over the country, but the best known place for enjoying is certainly Venice. However, keep in mind hotels get booked months in advance and rates tend to be very high. If you’re serious about going to Venice around Carnival time, it is advisable you book well in advance to give yourself the chance to take advantage of early bird offers on rates and packages. Carnival takes place a couple of weeks before the beginning of Lent, so the exact dates vary each year. Celebrations last for a few weeks, with Venice and Viareggio being considered by many favorite destinations. Every part of Italy celebrates Carnival in different ways, some with uniquely themed parades, others with peculiar habits, such as orange throwing competitions.
The actual celebrations begin in Venice around two weeks before the date of the Carnevale itself. Public events and art shows are organized each night in different areas of the city. The atmosphere is quite festive, people roam around the streets at all hours, dressed in various costumes and music, food and good wine are available everywhere. Some of the best events in Venice during the Carnevale are boat and gondola parades in the Grand Canal.
Celebrations in Venice reach their climax on the last night of the Carnevale, with grand fireworks simbolizing the end of the holiday and the beginning of Lent. A mask parade is held in St. Mark’s Square and there is also a small Carnival for children, which take place in the district of Cannaregio.
Another popular Carnevale destination is Viareggio, a town along the coast of Tuscany, in Versilia. The carnival in Viareggio is known for its famous, giant mannequins. During the festival, papier maché creatures and floats are paraded on the Sundays before Shrove Tuesday, and even after that. These parades are so special and unique that an admission fee has to be paid to view them. Many concerts, cultural events, festivals and even charming costume balls are organized during the season. Even the restaurants in Viareggio have a special menu for Carnevale.
Although the largest carnivals are hosted in Viareggio and in Venice, another place worth visiting during the period is Ivrea, a city located in the region of Piedmont, which has a very peculiar Carnival tradition. The Ivrea parade is very colorful and entertaining, but its climax is reached when a unique orange throwing battle takes place at its end. This battle takes place in the town center and can at times last for days. The end of the Carnival is marked with the burning of large poles in the main square of every district, previously covered with dry leaves.
Other Events in February
February 2nd is the day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It’s also called the Candelora, Candlemas, when beeswax candles are blessed. The event has pagan origins and it is one of the most ancient festivities in the country. Before Christianity, between February 15 and 18 Romans celebrated the Lupercalia; at the end of the festival, women used to walk around town with candles and torches to shoo the evil spirits.
Another important February feast is that of Saint Agatha. This is known to be the second largest religious celebration in the entire world. The feast takes place in the city of Catania in Sicily. Saint Agatha (Santa Agata), who is the patron saint of the city, had died at the age of 15 in the year 252 AD. Catania honors her with two days of celebrations and religious feasts, starting on the 4th of February. On that day, a mass is held at dawn and the statue of the Saint, complete with relics, is placed on a large silver carriage weighing 40,000 pounds and pulled by local men to Monte Sangiuliano. Along with the procession, the feast features a lot of good food, wine, and fireworks at the end.
Also in Sicily, the town of Agrigento is known for its Almond Blossom Festival. The festival takes place in the first weekend of the month and goes on for a week. Along with the festival there are various cultural events like puppet shows, parades, live performances and an International level Folklore festival. Various traditional food items and especially sweets are served, which are mainly made from almonds.
In Florence, usually during the weekend closest to St. Valentine’s, there’s a Chocolate Festival in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
Radicchio and other food festivals are held all over Italy. Just ask a local for more information about the area you are visiting.
Val Gardena – Ski resort in Italy.
Edited by Francesca Bezzone