Does It Snow In Italy? Can You Ski There?
Most of us have a certain image that comes into our heads when we hear the name “Italy.” Most people’s imaginations are dragged to sunny, ancient stone cities, rocky coasts, or rolling hills covered with grape vines.
Others transport their imagination to fabulous cathedrals or the eternal charm of the capital, Rome. Yet, though Italy offers these wonderful cultural delights, sun, wine, and history are not all the country has to offer.
So, does it snow in Italy? This European country is home to several mountain ranges and ski resorts, which makes the answer to our question obvious.
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Does It Snow In Italy?: The Short Answer
Yes, it does snow in Italy, but it doesn’t snow equally across the country. Italy is very geographically diverse. Therefore its regions and states all have unique climates.
The longer answer to this question is slightly more complex because it does not snow everywhere in Italy, especially in many famous cities frequented by tourists.
Overall, the southern half of Italy does not snow much, as it is too warm and too close to sea level to produce snowy winter weather.
However, the northern half of Italy, particularly its northern quarter, dotted by mountains and highlands, often sees snow in the winter and even hosts tourists who seek to go skiing or ice climbing in the winter.
If you are wondering where to go skiing in Italy, where it snows, where it does not snow, or where to avoid visiting in the wintertime, then keep on reading!
Italy Snow Season
We should understand Italy’s geography and climate before we discuss when the country’s snow season is.
Italy is a southern European country surrounded on three sides by sea and bordered in its northern regions by Austria, France, Switzerland, and Slovenia. The Adriatic touches its east coast, and the Mediterranean touches its west and south coasts, forming its mostly mild climate.
As a country with so much coast and relatively closer to the equator, Italy’s climate is relatively warm most of the year, and most of its region receives rain rather than snow in winter. Do not be fooled by the designation as a southern European country, though.
Northern Italy is a different story. If you know anything about Northern Italy’s borders and the countries that share them, this makes complete sense because this region has an alpine climate. The alps characterize this region and define its weather, culture, and behaviors.
In regions such as South Tirol, the Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Lombardy, and Veneto, you can count on seeing or experiencing snow in the winter.
Different parts of the Alps, such as the Dolomites in South Tirol, dominate the landscape of these areas. Cities and towns sit at a high level above the sea. Consequently, temperatures lower significantly during winter, turning the rain into snow.
The snowy season in these high-altitude regions begins in November and can typically last till March but sometimes extends into April. The silver lining is that Italy does not just offer seaside delights or wine tasting; its northern regions offer some of the world’s best skiing and excellent ice climbing.
Northern Italy reliably receives enough snow and has a cold enough climate that the Olympic committee decided to award the 2006 winter Olympics, which take place in January, to the city of Torino, the regional capital of Piedmont.
Does It Snow In Rome?
If you are planning a trip to Italy for the winter or the holidays, you will not only want to know if it snows in the charming capital; you will probably want to know if it snows in Italy’s other famous destinations too. Luckily for you, we will answer that all in depth here.
While it snows in higher regions of Italy located further north, Rome is too far south for it to reliably snow. Rome is located at the edge of central Italy, almost tipping into the region most Italians consider southern Italy and far from the mountains and heights that can receive snow.
Rome experienced exceptions in 1982 and 2012 when a white blanket suddenly covered the city. But if you are planning a trip here in the winter, you can expect milder weather than in most other parts of Europe.
And if you wanted to experience a white Christmas in Italy, Rome would not be your destination. Instead, cities such as Bolzano and Torino would be able to host you for a scenic winter holiday.
Rome’s climate, defined by the sea and the flat, stretching plains of Lazio, is significantly milder than Italy’s alpine regions. Thus, temperatures cannot dip low enough to generate snow.
However, Rome is not the only famous Italian destination missing snow. Cities such as Naples, Bari, and even Venice or Milan, which are northern, often go without snow in the winter for the same reason as Rome.
Once again, do not be fooled. Though it may not snow in these places, do not take that to mean that it is never cold in these cities. On the contrary, Venice is often humid in the winter, producing a unique kind of cold.
Rome often rains from November to March, so you will need to prepare for wet, cold weather if visiting Rome during the winter.
There is one famous city in Italy that gets white Christmases, however. Florence, the beautiful, scenic capital of Tuscany, may be drier, but its temperatures still drop to a level that can produce snow. This weather happens less often, but residents and visitors know it is worth seeing Florence in snow, as its Renaissance beauty gains a magical, fairytale quality.
Italy Weather In Winter
Once again, despite its reputation, Italy’s weather does change with the seasons, and the country has all four seasons. Spring and summer, as the warmest seasons and the seasons that intersect with vacation time, often host the most visitors to the country. Italy is known for hot summers with temperatures that can reach above ninety degrees.
Italy’s other seasons make up for its heat, as autumn and winter are milder than Germany, France, Switzerland, or even Slovenia.
Though Italy receives far fewer visitors in autumn and wintertime, its weather should not discourage visitors. Actually, many Germans, Austrians, and other northern or central Europeans leave their countries to visit Italy in winter because of its milder weather.
For example, the temperature in Rome rarely reaches below 28 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and the average national temperature is 13 degrees celsius or 55 degrees Fahrenheit in December. So, that means Italy can provide the best of both worlds in winter.
Even in Northern cities that can get snow, there are more sunny days than average for winter. For example, Monte Climone receives 109 hours of sun in December. Towns like Passo Rolle have 20 sunny mornings in the month.
In the central and southern parts, winter looks even brighter and better. Capo Palinuro and Naples both get over 100 hours of sunlight in December, and the majority of their mornings begin with the sun shining.
What To Do in Italy In Winter
Weather is not all Italy has to offer during winter time. With such a diverse climate, the country is a friendly year-round destination and offers both natural and cultural wonder in the winter.
In the north, where it does snow, you can:
- Ski in Val Gardena, the country’s highest-rated ski resort
- Go ice climbing in the dramatically beautiful Dolomites
- Go Christmas market exploring Torino
- Go ice skating in gorgeous Venice
In central Italy, you can:
- Go to Christmas mass at St. Peter’s Basilica
- Attend the New Year’s Eve Party in Piazza del Popolo, Rome
- Go to the Tuscan hot springs for a warm pick-me-up
And last but not least, in the south, you can:
- Enjoy the omnipresent sun
- Drive along the Amalfi coast
- See a play about the birth of Jesus in Palermo
In short, Italy has everything you need in winter because parts of it snow and become cold while other parts stay warm and imitate the image we associate with Italy. This country has everything you would want to find in winter, from snow and winter sports to sunny days and relaxed beaches – all in one fascinating, historically rich country.
Wrapping Up – Does It Snow In Italy?
So, does it snow in Italy? Once again, to put it simply, yes. It does snow in Italy, but not everywhere. However, that fact should not discourage you from visiting.
In the north, it is more than likely to look like a typical winter, but snow set among majestic mountains and ancient, quaint villages can be wonderfully scenic. In the central and southern regions of the country, snow is a rarer phenomenon, though it is possible in some cities, such as Florence.
Nonetheless, the country is sunnier, warmer, and more bearable during the winter months, especially if you visit as a tourist – because you will get to experience this country’s wonder without the crowds!