Does it Snow in Italy? What to Expect in Italy in Winter

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Does it snow in Italy in winter?

As a country known for its warm, Mediterranean climate, you might wonder whether it ever snows in Italy during winter. I myself have visited Italy during November and December, traipsing around Rome and Palermo, in Sicily.

And while I haven’t seen snow there firsthand I’ve experienced a bit of Italy in winter firsthand and learned that it looks different all across the country.

When we think of Italy, we typically imagine visiting sun-drenched beaches, sipping wine in lively squares and indulging in freshly-made pasta and gelato – yum! But what does Italy have to offer in winter, and is snow part of the picture? The answer is yes, but it depends where and when. 

To the north, Italy rubs shoulders with Switzerland, a country famous for its gleaming white slopes and snow sports scene. This trickles into parts of Italy as well. Whether you want to embrace the white stuff, or would rather avoid it, this guide highlights all you need to know about snow in Italy. 

Read on for an overview of winter in Italy, what to expect each month in different locations, where to see snow in Italy, wintry things to do and what to wear. So, where and when does it snow in Italy? By the end of this article, you’ll know all about it! Let’s dive in by taking a look at what winter in Italy is like. 

About Winter in Italy

Winter in Italy occurs at the same time as it does in North America and the rest of Europe – between the beginning of December and the end of February. Or between around December 20th and March 20th, depending on whether you follow the meteorological or astronomical calendar.

In general, the coldest months in Italy are December, January and February. How cold it gets varies according to location. Southern and central parts of Italy get little to no snow, while the northern mountains are covered in thick snow throughout winter and into early spring.

December to March are the most reliable months for experiencing snow in northern Italy. The Italy snow season can also include October, November, April and even May, but the chances of thick snow are lower.

The Dolomites and Alps are very popular destinations for winter sports fans, who flock here for skiing and snowboarding. By contrast, cities like Rome, Florence and Venice may see light snow now and then but it rarely settles. 

view of mountains in Italy with dense clouds overhead

Several factors affect snowfall: latitude, elevation and distance from the coastline. Higher, inland elevations in northern Italy are thus the most likely to see snow. The mountains act as a natural barrier, protecting the snowy ski slopes of the mountains from warm Mediterranean winds.

Only northern Italy has cold winters. In central Italy the weather is cool, while in the south, winter brings mild temperatures and rainfall rather than chilly, snowy conditions. So, snow is not the norm in places like Naples, the Amalfi Coast and Puglia. 

Does it Snow in Italy: Month by Month Guide

With the exception of June to September – when you can expect no snow at all – here’s a monthly breakdown of what the fall, winter and spring months have to offer when it comes to snowfall. 

Does it snow in Italy in October?

The highest peaks in northern Italy may see snow in October. Some skiing and snowboarding may be available at higher elevations. At lower levels, though, fall colors still tend to take center stage. 

Does it snow in Italy in November?

The ski season starts to ramp up in November, with thicker snow on the ground by the end of the month. Snowfall in northern cities such as Verona and Milan is possible, though it’s not very common in November.

Does it snow in Italy in December?

If you’re wondering, does it snow in Italy at Christmas, then the answer can be yes if you’re up north. By around the middle of the month, a thick blanket of snow covers the northern mountains, and the winter sports season is in full flow. 

Does it snow in Italy in January?

January is when you’re most likely to see snow in northern cities like Florence, Venice, and Milan. In the mountains, the depth can reach around five to 10 feet (or one to three meters) in January. 

Does it snow in Italy in February?

February tends to be marginally milder than January, in advance of spring. By the end of the month, snowfall is less frequent in both the mountains and the northern cities. 

Does it snow in Italy in March?

If you want to see snow in Italy during March, then the northern mountains are your best bet. While it doesn’t snow as often, the ski season continues due to the accumulation on the ground. 

Does it snow in Italy in April?

By April, snowfall is becoming fairly rare, even in the northern mountains. The winter sports season is mainly over, but can continue if temperatures are low enough for snow to remain on the ground. 

Does it snow in Italy in May?

In May, spring has arrived. There may be some snow on the ground at higher elevations, but by now snow showers are uncommon. 

Does it Snow in Italy: Area Guide

Much of whether or not you’ll experience snow in Italy depends on where you’re headed within the country.

Where does it snow in Italy?

In winter, you can expect snow in the Italian Alps and the Dolomites. You might also see snow flurries in northern cities, including Florence, Milan, Venice and Verona. The snow doesn’t tend to settle for long in urban areas, however. 

The snow season in Italy peaks in January, followed by December and February. You might see snow in November and March, or even October and April, but on average it’s not as frequent or as heavy as in winter. 

Does it snow in Rome?

woman with green umbrella looking at colosseum in Rome

Snow in Rome is pretty rare. I’ve visited Rome during November and December a couple of times, and have not personally experienced snow there. On average, it snows in the Italian capital and Vatican City around once every two years or so. 

Does it snow in Milan?

Top 10 Best Day Trips from Milan, Italy [2024]“>Milan is one of the Italian cities with the most snowfall. That said, you can’t really rely on seeing snow when you visit, as there are generally only between one and seven snowy days per year. When it does snow, more often than not it melts away fairly rapidly. 

Does it snow in Florence?

city lights reflecting on Arno river in Florence

An occasional light dusting would describe snow in Florence. It’s not generally a feature of winter in this city. You’re far more likely to experience no snow while visiting. Due to mild temperatures here, it tends to melt before hitting the ground, turning to rain before any chance of dusting the city white.

Does it snow in Venice?

One day of snowfall in January is about the most you can expect in Venice. The chances are even slimmer during December and February. If you do get lucky enough to see it though, Venice looks even more unique when carpeted in white!

Does it snow in Naples?

santa sculpture in Naples

Snow is very rare in Naples. It can happen, but more often than not it will be mild and wet in this warmer southern city. If it did snow during your visit, then you would be witnessing a fairly rare phenomenon!

Best Ski Resorts in Italy

The places to see snow in Italy in winter are at the ski resorts of the north. Here are some of the best:

Cervinia

Best for beginners

Forming part of the Aosta Valley, Cervinia lies close to the mighty Matterhorn and Zermatt in Switzerland. It’s a good bet for beginners, with plenty of suitable slopes. This charming Alpine resort in Italy is also car-free. 

Cortina

Best for apres ski

Glamorous Cortina is one of the most established ski destinations in Europe. It offers a traditional center complete with cobbled streets, with the rugged peaks of the Dolomites as the photogenic backdrop. Stylish shopping, smart restaurants, and a classy apres-ski scene make Cortina stand out. 

Courmayeur

Best for foodies

Overlooked by majestic Mont Blanc, Courmayeur is one for foodies, as well as winter sports fans. At only an hour-and-a-half from Geneva airport in Switzerland, this resort offers some of Italy’s top skiing. You can also sample foods ranging from rustic, rural fare to multi-course fine dining menus. 

Madonna di Campiglio

Best for all levels

A great range of runs for all levels combined with world-class facilities have put Madonna di Campiglio on the winter sports map. You can expect stunning views of the snow-clad Dolomites, too. This is one of Italy’s most fashionable ski resorts. 

Selva

Best for sunset 

Selva in Val Gardena is nestled beneath the Sella massif. It’s one of the country’s most popular ski areas, and famous for its sunset Alpenglow. Selva belongs to both the well-groomed Dolomiti Superski area and the Sella Ronda ski circuit, and is one of the highest villages in the region. 

Things to Do in Italy in Winter

There are plenty of ways to enjoy Italy in winter, perhaps even more so since you’ll avoid peak summer tourism crowds!

Winter sports

If you love snowboarding or skiing, then the Italian ski resorts detailed above offer some of the finest winter sports opportunities in Europe. Each is also part of a wider ski area, where you can find slopes, shopping, dining and apres-ski to suit every visitor. 

Christmas markets

christmas tree in Rome plaza

Whether you want to pick up unique finds to give as gifts, want to treat yourself, or simply want to experience a European Christmas market, then Italy is a great destination in winter.

Some of the best Christmas markets in Italy include the Marché Vert Noël in the Aosta Valley, plus those in the cities of Florence, Milan, Naples and Verona. But there are many more to choose from!

Foodie pleasures

One of the biggest pleasures of any vacation in Italy has to be the food. In summer, salads and seafood are king at the coastal resorts. But visit in winter to sample rich, warming dishes that suit the season perfectly. 

This is the time to try baked pasta al forno dishes. You can also tuck into folded calzone pizzas, letting out steam as you cut into them. Or feast on substantial main courses centered on meat, fish or vegetables. 

Explore off-season

If you want to experience popular Italian destinations without the crowds, then winter is the ideal time to visit. And in the case of Venice, it smells far fresher during winter than in high summer, when the canals can become rather pungent!

To beat the crowds, avoid the Christmas and New Year period, opting instead for January or February, after the December rush. November and March can be good, too.

Visiting at these times of year means you could also benefit from lower prices due to shoulder season. 

Head south 

If you’re a sun seeker rather than a fan of snow, venture to southern Italy to experience the mild winter climate. Puglia – the ‘heel’ of Italy –is relatively warm in winter, with average temperatures around 50°F to 60°F (about 10°C to 15°C). 

Depending on what you’re used to, a light layer or two may be enough to wear while exploring this balmy area. Christmas markets and traditional nativity scenes are a feature of December, and you can find farmers’ markets and local foodie delights throughout the season. 

What to Wear in Winter in Italy

Rain on clear plastic cover surrounding outdoor patio for a restaurant on a rainy night, lights from the restaurant across the way add a festive mood

The clothing to pack for winter in Italy depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. If you’re headed to the ski resorts, then proper winter sports wear is required. This includes a good ski jacket, plenty of warm layers such as thermals, plus accessories like ski goggles and insulating gloves. 

In the south, such as the Amalfi Coast or islands, it doesn’t usually get too cold. A warm jacket plus some extra layers should be enough, so you can adjust your clothing according to the time of day and temperature. 

Layering is the best approach for most places, in fact, where the weather may be anywhere between mild and very chilly. Carrying a lightweight, waterproof jacket is also wise since, with the exception of the northern mountains, rain is far more likely than snow. 

Final Thoughts: Does it Snow in Italy?

If you want to see snow in Italy, then head to the ski resorts of the north during December, January or February. At this time of year, the white stuff is guaranteed here, and the winter sports season will be in full swing. 

In general, the further south you go the lower your chances of experiencing snow in Italy. You’re also more likely to witness snowfall or see white, wintry landscapes inland than by the coast, and at higher elevations. 

The bottom line? Outside of the ski resorts, don’t expect to see snow in Italy. Even in winter! While you might get lucky in northern cities like Florence, Milan or Venice, there’s a far higher chance of rain than snow. 

Snow or no, Italy’s mild, Mediterranean climate is often perfect for exploring, shopping at festive markets and dining out in winter. With cheaper deals available and fewer crowds, this can be a wonderful time to experience la dolce vita for yourself.

If your heart is set on visiting a particular place, though, do check that services such as ferries will be operating during your stay. Some are seasonal, meaning that certain areas are a little too sleepy outside of summer!