As a person who can be a bit of a geek, I have always looked up weather patterns and historical averages before traveling anywhere and then checked the 10 day forecast on MSN the day that I am doing my packing. It wasn’t until I moved here and posted a few of my Winter weather gripes (knowing full well the weather conditions in the winter prior to moving) on my Facebook page and had friends respond that I realized that my standard weather research is not normal.
The above photo, taken in San Gimignano, a lovely walled town in Tuscany known for its Vernaccia wines, is the weather most people expect when they travel to Italy, Tuscany in particular. Wine tasting outdoors in that kind of weather with that kind of scenery is what most people dream of when they think about vacationing in Italy. Intensely blue skies dotted by white puffy clouds will welcome you throughout most of the high season, but:
- Rainfall occurs throughout the year here. While the rainy season is predominantly in the winter, generally not more than a couple weeks will go by without some rainfall.
- Winters are definitely cooler than most tourists expect…even in the generally temperate central and southern regions of the country. Snow-capped peaks are typical every winter in Tuscany, and this year we had a snowfall that actually stuck for days just before Christmas this year.
- The climate varies significantly from the north of the country to the south. If you will be traveling along the length of the peninsula: for instance, Venice, Florence, Rome and Sicily, you will very possibly encounter a large variety of weather. Remember the northern end of the country is the Alps and the southern end is on the same latitudes as North Africa.
- August is hot. August is boiling hot. Unless you are accustomed to living in a sauna only travel to beaches or mountains in August. If you ignore this sage advice and you melt, you have had ample warning and your heirs may not sue me. There is a reason the majority of the country shuts down for the month.
If you do happen to travel here in the winter do remember to pack full foul weather gear and shoes or boots that can handle the weather. Most good hotels will have umbrellas available or there are always enterprising young men who brave the rainstorms to sell umbrellas to those who are caught unprepared. In the summer it will be hot virtually everywhere except high in the mountains. Packing tips for spring and fall will follow…they need their own post.
The more prepared you are when you arrive here, the even more enjoyable traveling to Italy will be for you.