Are you planning a trip to Italy in winter? Wondering how cold winter in Italy can get? What the best of Italy is in winter?
What should you be packing to have a comfortable holiday?
Traveling in winter is a great way to escape the crowds, high prices and enjoy some delicacies only found in winter.
Where should you stay to take full advantage of these perks? A good place to start is in the big cities, like Florence, Rome and Venice.
Winter is the only time of year I enjoy visiting the beautiful Renaissance city of Florence. Can you imagine not waiting hours to enter the Uffizi, a budget hotel being affordable and, with your savings, splurging on a meal of white truffles?!
The exception for winter being low season is the Dolomites, or the Italian Alps. Here, like for any ski resort, the skiing season is high season. But it’s a fantastic holiday destination for ski bums, or for anyone who enjoys the snow.
Regardless of your destination make sure to pack well so you stay warm and dry.
And if you need some sun to warm you up, head to Rome, Naples or Sicily for warmer weather.
Just keep in mind it’s still possible to feel the cold when the sun goes down.
As a Canadian I should be used to the cold. But my first winter in Italy was rough.
The days are still short.
And the houses don’t have insulation, not even the roofs!
Since heating in Italy costs a fortune, Italians bundle up for the indoors, making wool and fleece your friends.
But don’t worry. This isn’t true for hotels. They’re should be nice and warm.
Packing for Winter in Central Italy:
Central Italy can hover around freezing for a few weeks every year.
It gets windy.
And it’s a humid, damp cold. So a windproof jacket is best, and waterproof with a hood is even better.
The annual dusting of snow, usually in February, is beautiful but rare.
After Christmas is when the cold normally arrives. And while it could drop to -5C, it doesn’t take long for everything to warm up again.
Buildings, including homes, traditionally have tile floors to help in the hot months. The coolness on bare feet in the summer is a blessing, but this isn’t an asset come January.
Throw carpets help and we pull them out for the winter months, but don’t expect to find them in rental apartments.
I strongly suggest bringing slippers. Or at least thick wool socks.
Essentials to Pack when Traveling in Winter:
- Bring a warm waterproof jacket and a small umbrella
- Layers: depending on where you’ll be, you may even want t-shirts. Temperatures can get up to 20 degrees in the sun.
lounge wearfor relaxing in the mornings and evenings.
- Bring slippers for cold floors were you are staying.
- Wool sweater/jumper or fleece, scarf, hat, gloves and a
- Waterproof walking shoes or hiking boots if you plan to visit any vineyards, olive groves or go for a walk in the woods hunting for truffles. It will be muddy.
I am from the west coast, so I’m used to grey skies and rain. Umbria is amazing for having sunny winter days, but the evenings and mornings get cold.
But spring begins in March so the chill lasts a few months.
The differences of heating in Italy
The heating shouldn’t be turned on until the regional government announces that it’s cold enough to do so, to save energy.
Our main source of heat is our wood stove so we can turn it on when we want, but it isn’t needed before November.
Heating is so expensive in Italy that many people only turn it on for a few hours a day.
For example: we have our heating on from 6am till 8am and then in the evening from 7pm till 9pm. Most of our friends do this as well.
The lucky ones, like us, also have a wood stove to keep us warm all day.
The further south in Italy you travel the warmer it is.
Even just the two-hour drive from our house in Perugia to Rome there can be a difference of 5 to 10 degrees.
The flip side of this means that if a cold spell hits they are not prepared. And unlike in central Italy, the buildings in the Alps are prepared for winter weather and warm.
Escaping the Cold Weather When Traveling in Winter
- Try Italian hot chocolate at a bar, it’s closer to
- Order a cafe
corretto: which is when grappa or sambuca is added to an espresso. A whole shot in an espressois tomuch for me, so ask for half. ‘metà della grappaper favore‘
- Take a day off sightseeing to enjoy some hot springs. In
Umbriathe towns of Spoleto and Citta di Castello have day spas at natural hot springs. Or what about a spa in Assisi? I loved NunSpa Museum.
- Book a truffle hunting expedition. It may be cold but tasting a freshly found white or black truffle is worth it. Just make sure to have foot wear with good threads.
My Italian Style of Fighting a Cold Bed
This won’t help with your holiday. But. Italians have introduced me to the best ways to take the edge off a cold bed: an electric blanket.
It’s the modern version of a hot water bottle. The electric blanket goes under the fitted sheet. Turn the blanket on 30 minutes before going to bed, turn it off and climb in.
The temperature in the bedroom is no longer a problem.
*Turn off the electric blanket whenever you’re in the bed and don’t leave it for too long because you can cause a fire. *
But Don’t Worry about
a Cold Hotel Room
After living in Toronto and Helsinki, I was surprised how much I felt the cold here in Umbria.
The lack of insulation and the sparse use of heating meant the cold could be felt inside.
Nothing prepared me for how cold tile floors can be in the winter.
But hotels, B&Bs and holiday homes shouldn’t be a problem. This applies more to visiting peoples homes.
I now love winter in Umbria: the chance of snow, an indulgent hot chocolate and getting outside for truffle hunting. Traveling in the winter is full of treats!