Weather in Italy in December

Is December a good time to go to Italy?

Christmas time is here and the ski season is getting into full swing. While it is one of the coldest times of year, many Italians travel around Christmas time, ski resorts become full and the art cities will have a fair number of tourists as well. It is a relatively cheap time to travel nonetheless and, while there may be some queues at major attractions, it is nothing like the summer. 


Climate in Italy in December

December is a cold and wet month, with a fair amount of snowfall in the mountains. The south can be up to 16°C (61°F), but expect lows of -3°C (27°F) up north and inland, as well as in the alpine foothills; and the highest peaks drop to -10°C (14°F), so take notice of the temperatures when planning a ski holiday.  Rainfall is not as heavy as November, but still may average 120mm (4.7in) in some places. 


What’s on in Italy in December

Christmas markets, concerts and events run throughout the month and it is best to avoid the large crowds in Rome and the Vatican as Christmas draws closer, unless specifically going for the annual papal address. There are a number of festivals dedicated to various patron saints, including the San Ambrogio festival in Milan, San Nicolo festivals in Bari and Abruzzo, as well as Saint Lucia day in Sicily. In addition to these local religious festivals, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception is a nationwide holiday observed with music, parades and feasts on 8 December, where the Pope addresses believers at the Spanish Steps in Rome. 


What to pack for a holiday in Italy in December

December is wet and cool, so pack layers of warm clothing, especially when travelling to the mountains. It is difficult to pack the necessary thick clothing for winter and keep a light bag, so it is best to use clothing that is useful in many situations to minimise baggage. It is also best to take dark coloured clothing made of synthetic materials because they dry quicker than cotton or wool and do not show dirt as easily, which is a common problem with the wet weather. 

This means packing long sleeved shirts, thermals, T-shirts to be worn with warm jerseys, synthetic trousers and jeans for smarter occasions; long underwear is important for warmth. A thick waterproof coat will serve its purpose well everywhere and gloves, scarves, hats and waterproof boots or shoes will ensure maximum comfort. People travelling to elevated regions should pack more layers as well as the relevant snow gear.

For footwear, comfortable and amphibian walking shoes are best for the city and sturdy hiking boots or shoes for the country and alpine areas. 

Remember that many churches and monasteries require both men and women to cover up well, and pack something smart for a good restaurant or special event.