by Maria E. Bellini
There are several factors to take into account when planning your Outdoors holiday to Italy. Whether you’ll be walking, hiking, or running along the trails, self guided or part of a guided trip, or even as a participant in a trail running race.
- location, which we discuss here
- elevation gain,
- your level of fitness
- planning and preparation
- kit and equipment
- Italian holidays and festivals, read our guide here
- other activities in the area
- wilderness factor
…..to name but a few… We’ll be looking at all of these in the future, but first we want to look at possibly one of the most important factors….
Italy can be oppressively hot and humid in the summer, and can be devilishly freezing in the winter. Also, bear in mind that the northernmost Italian ‘comune‘ (like a borough) is Predoi in the Aurina Valley in Trentino-Alto Adige, the southernmost ‘comuni’ are the islands of Lampedusa e Linosa over 200km (124miles) south of Sicily. That means, just over 1900km (1180miles) separates the two, therefore, consider that the climate will usually be colder in the north and warmer and drier in the south of Italy - although in recent years with climate change, the north has been experiencing some extremely boiling hot long summers.
Take this into consideration especially if you are thinking about a running holiday. Temperatures in July and August can be extreme, both in north and south, and can easily climb up into the mid 30’s.
In 2017 the aptly named heatwave ‘Lucifer’ brought temperatures to Italy of 40C - 104F. In the summer in hotter areas, plenty of Italian runners resort to running before dawn, and trail running and road races tend to be fewer in August.
Of course it all depends on personal preference. There is no ‘best time to go’, and weather can vary greatly between areas. So we’ve listed our favourite months below.
Alps and Dolomites
Our choice for a walking, hiking or running trip to the Alps or Dolomites would fall between mid June, July, August to mid September. During this time most mountain Rifugios will be open, and access to all the trails should be clear. Although certain areas, specially the more popular ones can get busy in August for more details see our introductory guide to the Dolomites. And plan well ahead if August is your only option, both for the Alps and Dolomites!
Liguria, Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre
This extremely poetic part of Italy, with its old school charm is, in our opinion, best appreciated in late April, May to mid June – mid September and October. In July and August the heat can be stifling, and the narrow paths, and tiny villages can get seriously crowded. To learn more, you may be interested in reading our Cinque Terre guide.
Northern Italy, Langhe and Lakes
(Excluding Alps and Dolomites) – April, May, June – mid September, October, up until mid November, are in our opinion the most interesting months to head to the north. For the Langhe – which we outline in our Piedmont guide, we’d choose the early autumn months, for the food festivals, mushroom and truffle season and also for the rich golden colours of autumn, and morning mists.
Tuscany and Central Italy
April, May, June, July, September, and October and part November, are good months to visit the ever popular Tuscany and central Italy – as a general rule. However, remember the higher you go in altitude, the colder it gets, and in Central Italy’s Abruzzo region’s Apennines, the Gran Sasso reaches 2,912 meters (9,554 Ft) and Mount Majella 2,793 meters (9,163 Ft) therefore it’s best to avoid the winter, early spring and late autumn months.
Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Sardinia, Sicily and Southern Italy
April, May, June, September, October, are our chosen months to fully appreciate that special Mediterranean vibrancy that’s so characteristic of the south of Italy. Avoid the mid summer months, when prices go up, and the area gets crowded.
We hope you enjoy planning and researching your future walking, hiking or running holidays to Italy! If you’re interested in running in a trail race here in Italy, you might like to read our article on how to choose the right first trail race.
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.