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Italy in December – Reasons to Visit and What to Expect

italy in december

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If you’re considering visiting Italy in December, you can expect festive celebrations, sparkling Christmas lights, and snowy mountain slopes. The country sees a nose dive in the number of tourists during this month, making for a chilly yet tranquil Italian getaway.

Italy’s weather in December varies according to where you are in the country. Northern Italy sees more cold weather due to its higher elevations, while Southern Italy is much warmer. As the start of winter (off-season), December offers fewer tourists, holiday cheer, and lower prices.

This gives you the usual opportunity to experience the best of both worlds: a serene trip to Italy and a winter wonderland. That’s why December could well be the best time to visit Italy.

Weather in Italy in December

december in italy

Is Italy cold in December? This depends on where in the country you visit. Northern Italy typically has cold temperatures, ranging from 32°F to 50°F (0°C to 10°C), while Central Italy is milder, with average temperatures ranging from 43°F to 55°F (6°C to 13°C).

Southern Italy also boasts moderate weather. Daytime temperatures range from 46°F to 57°F (8°C to 14°C). So when you visit Italy, don’t expect Venice to feel the same as Sicily. Weather in Italy in December can also get quite wet, with the country experiencing seven to ten rainy days.

What is the weather like in Italy in December? Here’s a closer look:

  • Rome Weather in December: Located in Central Italy, the capital experiences mild temperatures that fluctuate from cloudy and gray to sunny and warm. Average daytime temperatures range from lows of 40°F (4°C) to highs of 55°F (13°C). Rome can get quite wet in December, with about eight days of expected monthly rainfall.
  • Florence Weather in December: The birthplace of the Renaissance is just a few hundred miles north of Rome, so average temperatures here are cooler. Average lows hit 37°F (3°C) while the highs reach up to 52°F (11°C). Florence only gets about nine hours of sunlight in December, which is the least compared to other months. 
  • Venice Weather in December: The Floating City is chilly but not freezing. Daily temperatures range from lows of 33°F (1°C) to highs of 46°F (8°C). Six days of the month are expected to bring rainfall, but don’t look forward to snow falling.
  • Tuscany Weather in December: Similar to its capital, Florence, this region experiences mild temperatures in December. Average daytime temperatures range from lows of 46°F (8°C) to highs of 54°F (12°C). It gets a decent amount of rain through about 10 days.
  • Amalfi Coast Weather in December: Hugging south of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Amalfi Coast tends to be warmer than its northern counterparts. The region experiences lows of 48°F (9°C) and highs of 58°F (14°C). It’s warmer but wetter, with over 14 days of rain.
  • Italian Lakes Weather in December: The Italian Lakes District experiences cold temperatures in December. The lakes rarely freeze over, so ferries are still available. In Lake Como or Lake Garda, you’ll enjoy Christmas markets surrounded by snowy peaks. Expect conditions to range from 32°F (0°C) to 45°F (7°C) throughout the low season.
  • Cinque Terre Weather in December: This region along the Italian Riviera is quite lucky, as despite being in northwest Italy, it experiences warm December weather. Cinque Terre has daytime temperatures ranging between 42°F (6°C) and 53°F (12°C). Days are still short, though, with only nine hours of daylight to get all your sightseeing done.
  • Sicily Weather in December: The heart of the Mediterranean gets warm during midday but cools down throughout the evening. Sicily experiences daily temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 59°F (15°C). Expect about eight to nine days of rainfall in December. 

Best Places to Visit in Italy in December

italy december temperatures

Visiting Italy in December has its perks: open-air markets, the Christmas spirit, and lower prices. But where should you go when you visit Italy in December? These are some of the best picks.

Milan

december italy weather

Milan is often chilly and can be foggy or cloudy, with a chance of light snow in December. But if you’re keen on capitalizing on holiday sales, then you’ll surely want to visit one of the world’s fashion capitals for the perfect winter coat. Temperatures range from 36°F (2°C) to 45°F (7°C).

There are plenty of things to do in Milan in December besides shopping, but if you’re a sucker for Christmas bargains, there’s no better place than Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Otherwise, stroll through famous Christmas markets like the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! near Sforzesco Castle.

Holiday festivities officially kick off on the 7th of December when locals celebrate and honor the city’s patron saint, Sant’Ambrogio. But you can still see Milan’s best attractions via a guided walking tour and Last Supper visit or a Duomo and rooftop tour for a vantage point of the city.

TIP: Take a trip from Milan to Lake Como to enjoy a quieter atmosphere and lower prices.

The Dolomites

best places to visit italy in december

You can’t visit Italy in December without skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding amidst snowy mountains, and that’s where the Dolomites come in. Temperatures are freezing, ranging from 14°F (-10°C) to 23°F (-5°C). But there are lots of thrilling winter activities to keep you warm.

Winter sports aren’t the only things on offer in the Dolomites in December, but considering the number of nearby resorts, it will be hard to stay away from them. Val Gardena is one of the most famous skiing areas, but there are eleven other ski slopes within the Dolomiti Superski region.  

Otherwise, opt for a helicopter tour over the mountain range or visit some of the best towns in the Dolomites. Stroll through a Christmas market under the festive lights in Bolzano, sipping mulled wine. Or meet the 5,000-year-old iceman Ötzi at the Museum of Archaeology Bolzano. 

LISTEN: To our podcast on the Christmas Markets of South Tyrol.

Venice

venice italy in december

Chilly and often misty, the fog adds a mystical charm to the canals, making Venice in December a dreamy vacation destination. Sometimes, the fog makes it look like the buildings are floating on the clouds, but visiting Venice in December is not all doom and gloom. In fact, it’s serene.

Temperatures range from 33°F (1°C) to 46°F (8°C), so the cold weather keeps tourists away. Enjoy a ride on the Grand Canal without interruption, explore local Christmas markets like the “Natale in Laguna” in Campo Santo Stefano, or keep it simple with a visit to St. Mark’s Basilica.

If you’re keen on a day trip from Venice, consider visiting Murano Island for the Natale di Vetro (Christmas of Glass), where you can see a 20-foot-tall glass Christmas tree. These December festivities kick off with Festa di San Niccolò—a celebration of Venice’s patron saint.

The highlight of this festival is the Regatta di San Niccolò, featuring a water procession organized by the glass-workers from Murano Island.

NOTE: The city has a new law called the Venice Tourist Tax that requires a €5 ($5.41) entry fee for all-day visitors. This law came into effect in April 2024.

Bologna

bologna december in italy

Typically frosty and sometimes thinly dusted with snow, December brings a festive atmosphere to Bologna. The Italian food capital often experiences cooler weather than the southern regions, seeing conditions range from 36°F (2°C) to 44°F (7°C) throughout the off-season.

Stroll through festive open-air markets, like the Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia (Ancient Fair of Saint Lucia) set underneath the city’s historic porticoes. This is a historic market, dating back to the 16th century. It’s the perfect place to eat the local food while walking beneath twinkling lights.

Try the most popular delights, like tagliatelle al ragù, lasagna bolognese, and tortellini in brodo. Otherwise, take a Bologna food tour or dedicate the whole day to a behind-the-scenes look at cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar production with these factory tours.

Your Bologna itinerary shouldn’t end with just tasting delicious food. Take day trips from Bologna to nearby towns like Modena and Parma, or book a Ferrari VIP experience with a test drive.

Rome

rome italy december temperatures

Mildly chilly but with mostly clear skies and occasional rain, Rome in December is the perfect time to explore the Italian capital. Rome’s rich history and religious significance make it a popular destination throughout the year, but it gets fewer tourists during the off-season.

LISTEN: To our podcast on Christmas in Rome and Italy.

Rome’s weather in December ranges between 40°F (4°C) and 55°F (13°C). Although brisk, the conditions still allow you to explore top attractions like the Pantheon, Colosseum, and Vatican Museums. But December is about Christmas decorations, Nativity scenes, and ice skating.

Head to the Vatican for the Pope’s Christmas Mass, or visit the Piazza Navona Christmas Market, where you can buy holiday gifts, from leather goods to books, toys, and food items. Every church has a Nativity scene, and Christmas trees are in every piazza. Don’t miss out on the Christmas tree lighting in St. Peter’s Square, a grand and enduring tradition.

NOTE: Some notable sites like the Colosseum operate limited hours during this time, so arrive early. You must also book tickets far in advance to hear the Pope’s message at the mass.

Naples

naples december italy weather

With moderate winter sun and occasional rain, Naples is a fantastic place to spend December in Italy. You won’t get beach weather, but indoor activities are available, like visiting museums, strolling through art galleries, and enjoying hearty cuisine under the sparkling Christmas lights.

Naples experiences weather conditions that range from 44°F (6°C) to 58°F (14°C). The holiday season brings a festive atmosphere along Via San Gregorio Armeno (or Christmas Alley), where artisans line the street with handcrafted wooden figurines representing Nativity scenes.

Locals traditionally eat fish for dinner on Christmas Eve, so a visit to the Porta Nolana Fish Market is a must. This market is open all night on Christmas Eve, and strolling through it is a great way to spend one of your December nights in Naples.

Alternatively (and if you can brace the weather), take a day trip to Pompeii or visit the Amalfi Coast. Keep in mind that many tourist organizations operating on the Amalfi Coast usually close down during the holiday season, but that only allows you to experience the local’s everyday lives.

Bari

best places to visit bari italy in december

Brisk but often sunny, Bari has pleasant weather in December. The city is not unseasonably cold so you can admire its historical charm via a walking tour, segway, or bike. Indulge in the best meals with a street food walking tour, or opt for a pasta-making and tasting experience.

December brings temperatures ranging from 42°F (6°C) to 56°F (14°C) to Bari. You’ll enjoy local Christmas markets, stroll through the Christmas lights garden, or marvel at the nearly 46-foot-tall illuminated Christmas tree at Piazza del Ferrarese.

The festive lights and celebrations kick off on the day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Bari. There are other fun things to do in Bari during your December visit. Visit Alberobello’s UNESCO World Heritage Site to marvel at its ancient conical roof-shaped stone huts. Or go on a shopping spree for local treats in Bari Vecchia—home of the famous Piazza Mercantile.

Sicily

sicily italy in december

Situated at the southernmost tip of Italy, Sicily is an excellent winter destination. Although it may not provide beach-going weather like in the summer months, Sicily in December allows you to be outdoors and explore its magical small towns like Catania, Taormina, and Noto.

Expect conditions to range from 50°F (10°C) to 59°F (15°C). This mild and generally sunny weather is best enjoyed hopping from one historical site to another. Visit Palermo, the largest city on the island, to explore its UNESCO-recognized Arab-Norman heritage.

Sticking to the holiday spirit, stroll through a lively Sicilian Christmas market, indulge in the Mediterranean-inspired traditional food, or sample wine cultivated on the island. The Feast of Santa Lucia in Syracuse is a big celebration featuring a grand procession and fireworks.

TIP: Need help figuring out where to go? These places to visit in Sicily should be at the top of your list.

Festivities and Public Holidays in Italy in December

festivals december in italy

From holiday-inspired decorations to Christmas Day parades, Italy in December presents a unique opportunity to experience attractions, major cities, and small towns with festive cheer.

But that’s not where it ends – the country also has a range of national holidays that you may enjoy. Here are the most important holidays celebrated across Italy in December:

  • 6th of December – Feast of Saint Nicholas: Celebrated in Bari with religious processions and festivities honoring Saint Nicholas, the city’s patron saint.
  • 7th of December – Feast of Saint Ambrose: Milan honors its patron saint with special church services across the city. Don’t miss out on the lighting of the Christmas tree in the Cathedral Square.
  • 8th of December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception: This is a national holiday marking the start of the holiday season, with masses, parades, and fireworks. This day ushers in the Christmas lights, trees, and decorations.
  • 13th of December – Feast of Saint Lucy: Celebrated in the southern regions, particularly Sicily, this feast is marked by parades and processions. In Syracuse, the saint’s statue is moved from its chapel to the high altar of her cathedral.
  • 24th of December – Christmas Eve: Locals prepare for Christmas with festive meals and attend Midnight Mass. In Naples, families enjoy a fish meal as per tradition, while the fish market stays open later than usual for last-minute shopping.
  • 25th of December – Christmas Day: This is a national holiday celebrating the birth of baby Jesus at family gatherings and church services. Many banks and restaurants close on this day.
  • 26th of December – Saint Stephen’s Day: This day honors the first martyr recorded in Christian theology and allows families to extend their Christmas celebrations.
  • 31st of December – New Year’s Eve: Like the rest of the world, Italians celebrate this day with festive meals, parties, fireworks, and public gatherings to welcome the New Year.

LEARN: What to expect if you Visit Italy in January for New Year.

What to Wear in Italy in December

wear in italy december temperatures

Now that you’re all caught up on the December festivities at hand, it’s time to pack your bags. If you’re wondering how to pack for Italy in December; here’s a list of all the necessary items:

  • Layered clothing – Italy in December is brisk, but southern regions are less cold than those in the north. Nonetheless, pack several clothes that can be layered under a big winter coat. This way, you can adjust your clothing to each region’s weather.
  • Waterproof shoes – While December is colder and November rainier, this month does get its fair share of wet weather. A pair of waterproof shoes will come in handy on wet days.
  • Rain jacket or coat – Brace yourself for occasional showers throughout December. A rain jacket or coat will help you keep warm while exploring the quieter streets of Italy.
  • Beanies, scarves, and gloves – You may not need these in Sicily, but you will in Milan. Pack several beanies, scarves, and gloves to keep warm in northern Italy.
  • Umbrella – If the weather forecast deceives you, this nifty accessory will be your saving grace when the heavens suddenly start coming down.

Is December a Good Time to Visit Italy?

december visit italy weather

Absolutely! Italy in December offers tranquil strolls along quieter streets, shorter queues at top attractions, and a festive atmosphere marked by sparkling lights. Whether you’re looking to explore small towns or want to stick to the big cities, December has something for everyone.

Keep in mind that the month is quiet at first but gets busier as the holiday season arrives. Christmas markets, holiday processions, and parades attract many locals and tourists.

Generally speaking, Italy in December offers a mixed bag; from snowy peaks to quieter cities.

READ: Want to avoid the cold weather? Consider visiting Italy in September.

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