Venice Italy

Does it snow in Italy? 4 Cities and The best Ski Resort to Visit in Winter When it Snows

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Italy is one of Europe’s most diverse destinations in terms of weather, as it is a perfect place to go for both summer and winter.

In the northern areas bordering Switzerland and the Dolomites, you can find regular snow in winter and great skiing, while in the very south on the Italian Riviera, you can enjoy almost year-round warm weather.

Dolomites, Italy - does it snow in Italy?
Dolomites

The center of the country, encompassing cities such as Milan and Venice is more moderate, experiencing a classic four seasons, so if you’re looking for a certain type of holiday, such as winter.

Italy Climate

Average High and Low Temperature in Italy
Photo © Weatherspark

The climate in Italy is extremely varied and is generally divided into three major regions, plus the islands.

The northern alpine regions experience heavy snowfall in winter as well as rain, although in summer they can have temperatures of around 25.

Slightly further down the country around Lombardy, temperatures in winter are also cold, but with far more rain and fog, while in summer the cities are baking hot and humid.

Southern Italian cities such as Naples are also very warm in summer, and have a humid subtropical climate, often reaching 30, and in winter are a far warmer average of 10 degrees.

The islands, such as Capri and Sicily also enjoy lovely warm summers, and moderate winter temperatures, although they don’t see any snow.

Does It Snow In Italy?

Average Monthly Snowfall in Italy
Photo © Weatherspark

Yes, it often snows in Italy in winter, especially in the north of the country, such as the Italian Alps, Dolomites, and the Aosta Valley which borders France and Switzerland.

The mountainous north gets the heaviest snowfall and you can often also experience snow in Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, and Venice.

However, in large cities, it can be sporadic so snow may not fall every year. Venice is beautiful in the snow, which can sometimes fall in January or February, but it is a rare occurrence.

Although Italy is a Mediterranean country, it has its own set of microclimates where the weather can be unexpected.

In the southern areas, you are far less likely to see snow, and winters generally have more rain, sleet, and cloudy days than sub-zero temperatures.

When Does It Snow In Italy?

In Italy, snow is most common between the months of November to February, however, there can be unexpected flurries outside of this period.

During these months, there will certainly be heavy snowfall in the north of the country, in the Dolomites and Italian Alps, and even in low-lying areas such as Lake Como.

Italy becomes warmer the further south you travel, so although there may be occasional snowfall in the center of the country during the winter, it is uncommon and the southern riviera and islands in particular do not experience snow at all.

Lake in the Italian Alps
Lago di Braies in the Italian Alps

Is Snow Common In Italy?

Yes, snow is common in the high-altitude regions which are located in northern Italy. There will certainly be snowfall every year in the mountains, and in the surrounding Italian cities, towns, and villages in the north.

Snow is also common in places such as Lake Garda and Lake Como, which are surrounded by hills and mountains.

Milan frequently gets snow each winter, as it is one of the most major northern Italian cities, however in other cities in central Italy, such as Florence or Rome, snow is possible but very uncommon.

In Naples, Bari, and the islands, there is never snow due to the Mediterranean climate, but temperatures will be quite cold.

Where Does It Snow In Italy

Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso

Each year, there is heavy snowfall in the north of Italy, in the Alps, Dolomites, and across the alpine regions. This includes Piedmont, Varese, and the Aosta Valley.

Both the Aosta Valley and the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso offer amazing skiing, winter villages, snow sports, and mountain views, so they are the ideal destination if you’re looking for snow.

Some of the most famous Italian cities, such as Venice, Florence, and Bologna may also have light snowfall, but this is rare, and it is difficult to predict the years when it will occur.

Snowfall in December

Average Monthly Snowfall in December in Italy
Photo © Weatherspark

December is when the winter season really begins in Italy, and northern cities will drop in temperature to around 5-7 degrees on average, however as the winter months continue it will become even colder.

The north of the country will already have quite heavy snowfall during the day and very cold nights.

Central Italy is significantly warmer in December with an average temperature of 15 degrees, so snowfall is unlikely during this month.

Southern Italy is warmer still, with temperatures averaging between 12 – 16 degrees, once again too warm for snow to fall, but warm enough for a holiday in the winter sun.

Snowfall in January

Average Monthly Snowfall in January in Italy
Photo © Weatherspark

January is usually the coldest month of the year in Italy in every region. January is the high season in Italy’s mountains for skiers and snowboarders, as this month has the highest snowfall and temperatures can fall to -5 degrees.

Again, as you travel further south, temperatures become slightly warmer, but can still average 5 degrees in central Italy and 10 degrees in the south.

The lack of snow in these places means instead there will be plenty of rain showers and fog. The final three days of January are also known as Giorni Della Merla, the coldest days of the year.

Snowfall in February

Average Monthly Snowfall in February in Italy
Photo © Weatherspark

February is almost as cold as January across Italy, so snowfall often continues in the north, and rain and fog are seen further south.

However, as the month continues, temperatures begin to rise slightly as the country heads toward spring.

Temperatures in the center can get up to 13 degrees by the end of February, although the ski resorts still only see highs of 5 degrees, and there is still plenty of snow for skiing.

Snow in Southern Italy

It is extremely rare to get snow in southern Italy. The south of the country has a warm, mild Mediterranean climate for much of the year, and in the winter season temperature drops slightly to around 15 degrees.

You will often experience rainfall or bright but cold days in winter in the south, but it remains warm enough to head to the beach or explore outside.

If you’re keen to see snow you can add in a day trip to the Apennine mountains, which lie in the center of the country close to Perugia, for snow-capped peaks and hills, to combine the best of both worlds.

Snow in Northern Italy

Northern Italy, which includes the Alps, Dolomites, and Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region, is the coldest region of the country but also has its own varied climates.

In the Po Valley, winters are cold but with only some snow, and rain is far more common. However, in the majority of the region which is extremely mountainous, there is heavy snowfall throughout the winter season, with perfect conditions for snow sports, and temperatures going into minus figures.

You will find this the busiest time to visit the northern mountains, where many ski resorts are located both on the Italian side and on the borders with France and Switzerland.

Even in lower altitude northern areas such as the lakes and Milan, temperatures are cold and a slight dusting of snow is common.  

Alto Adige Italy
Alto Adige, Italy

Snow in Central Italy

Snow in central Italy can occur occasionally, but it is not common. Central Italy covers cities such as Rome, Pisa, Rimini, and even Bologna, which is slightly north.

You may be lucky enough to witness snow in these areas, which would most likely fall in January or February, however cold, clear days, or rain and fog are far more likely.

Central Italy is the location of the Apennine mountains, so there may be snowfall here in the coldest months of the year, and San Marino, which is its own country within Italy, is also situated high on a hill so experiences some light snowfall each year.

Snow in Milan

Milan is one of Italy’s most major northern cities, and it is only a short distance from Lake Como, the Dolomites, and the Alps.

This means it gets very cold in winter, with temperatures going down to 1 degree. However, the city doesn’t always receive snowfall, and you can expect an average of seven days of snow each year.

However, if you decide to visit Milan in winter, it is one of the most beautiful cities to explore in the snow.

With climate change, the city has seen warmer winters in recent years, so snow in Milan is less and less common.

Milan Cathedral on sunrise, Italy
Milan Cathedral, Italy

Snow in Rome

Rome is located right in the center of Italy, just inland from the coastal area of Fiumicino. This means the climate is immediately warmer than in the north, and snow in Rome is rarely seen.

In the winter months, rain, mist, fog and cold but clear days are much more common, with mid-range temperatures of around 5-10 degrees.

This is certainly the city to visit if you do not want any snow, but still want plenty of historic attractions to explore, and it could be combined with a visit further north. 

Snow in Venice

Venice is technically located in northern Italy, so you would expect to see snowfall here. Due to its location as an island, much of the year in Venice can be humid and hot, and in winter temperatures only drop to around 8 degrees.

This means snow in Venice is very uncommon, although it is occasionally seen. If you are lucky enough to experience it, it would fall in January or February, and usually, snow does not settle on the ground for long.

Snow in Florence 

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Florence straddles both northern and central Italy, so it has cold winters but like Venice, it is not always cold enough for snow.

It frequently snows in Florence, particularly in January or February, and you are more likely to see snow or cold days here than rain.

In December, snow in Florence rarely settles for long, but if you want the best chance of seeing snow in Florence, the end of January is the best time to visit, with average temperatures of up to 5 degrees.  

Things To Do in Italy During Winter Season

Italy is one of the most incredible countries to visit in winter, especially if you’re ready to embrace the cold weather or even snow!

Skiing, snowboarding, and a variety of winter sports can be found in the north of Italy, so booking a stay at a ski resort can be a fun activity, although you will find this in the busiest time of year in the region.

Visit Rome or Milan to experience romantic cold winter weather, but with fewer crowds than in summer, meaning you can enjoy the sights to yourself.

In Milan, you can visit the Christmas market in December, and if there is no snow, take a day trip to Lake Como or the mountains!

Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como, Italy

If you are keen for some warm weather, head to the south to relax on the beach, although in the north you can often find ski resorts also have thermal baths, saunas, and spas to enjoy if you want to escape the snow for a while.

Best Destinations To Visit In Italy During Winter

The best destinations to visit in Italy during winter depending on what you’re searching for. The Italian Alps and Dolomites are the best places in Italy to go to enjoy heavy snowfall, winter sports, and winter wonderland scenery.

Big cities such as Venice, Rome, or Florence will be cold and have rain, but they are much cheaper in the winter months and have far fewer tourists, while the south is still sunny and warm, perfect for a hot winter getaway.

Best Ski Resorts in Italy

Northern Italy and the Italian Alps are home to some of the best ski resorts in all of Europe. These are some of the most amazing ones you can visit.

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina d’Ampezzo

Cortina is the largest and most popular of all the ski resorts in the Dolomites and is located around a 2-hour drive north of Venice.

The resort is actually open year-round, and looks like a charming European village, with plenty of cute shops and restaurants, especially along its main street called Corso Italia.

The different ski areas are spread around this area of the Dolomites, which include Faloria, which is closest to the village, Col Druscie and Tofane.

The snow here is reported to be very good in the winter months, and there are many different slopes for all skills.

It also has a great apres-ski and plenty of activities such as hiking, swimming, and shopping if you haven’t learned to ski yet!

Val Gardena

Val Gardena Is also located in the Dolomites and has some of the best mountain views out of all the ski resorts.

It is one of the most popular resorts in the area and is particularly loved by families and beginner skiers due to the easy slopes.

Val Gardena is the biggest resort in the Dolomites, so it is always popular and busy, so you need to book accommodation in advance, but generally, ski hire, lift passes, and hotels are not too expensive.

The resort also has three separate villages, so there is no shortage of places to shop, eat or stay and in winter it is a mountainous wonderland.

Sestriere

Sestriere ski resort, Italy
Sestriere

Sestriere is one of the area’s oldest ski resorts, which has great snow, and a range of activities and is popular with everyone from pro-skiers to beginners.

Sestriere is located just west of Turin and is famous for being part of the Milky Way Pass, which is a pass connecting it to Sauze d’Oulx, Cesana-Sansicario, Claviere, and Montgenèvre in France.

Pontedilegno – Tonale 

Pontedilegno-Tonale is more commonly known as just Tonale and consists of three major ski villages, a large glacier in Lombardy, and over 100km of ski trails ranging from beginner to expert.

It includes the village of Temu, as well as Ponte di Legno and Passo del Tonale. It is most popular because it has a long ski season, which often lasts from October all the way to May.

The villages have lots of places to stay, restaurants, and ski shops for renting equipment and it is generally affordable.

Pontedilegno-Tonale is also located only a 2-hour drive from Milan, so it can be ideal for combining with a city break in winter.

I may be biased as I used to go snowboarding very often in Tonale and spend many weekends with friends in a small cabin in Ponte di Legno and I still go back every time I go back to Italy and visit my family.

It’s a special place both in summer, for great hikes, and in winter for spectacular skiing or snowboarding.

Packing Essentials For a Winter Holiday in Italy

Packing will depend on where in Italy you plan to travel. The weather certainly varies, but you will definitely need a few jumpers and a warm coat.

If you are traveling to the south, you can pack for a summer holiday, but add a few warmer items just in case there is cold weather.

If you plan to visit the north or go skiing, warm winter clothes such as long coats, jumpers, and scarves are essential.

If you are visiting the coast or central cities, then rain is more likely so bring a waterproof jacket, umbrella, and good shoes.

How should I dress in Italy in December?

These are a few things you need to pack for a winter holiday in Italy:

✅ Winter jacket or coat

✅ Waterproof jacket

✅ Scarf, hat, and gloves

✅ Snow or skiing gear, including thermal clothes

✅ Warm walking shoes

✅ Umbrella

Does it snow in Italy FAQ

Rome aerial view
Rome, Italy

You might be wondering whether winter is the best time to visit the beautiful country of Italy, and quite how cold it will be if you visit.

These are some of the most common questions about winter in Italy.

How cold is Italy in winter?

In northern Italy, expect plenty of heavy snow, some blizzards, and temperatures to often drop below freezing, especially high in the mountains. In the daytime, temperatures up to 5 degrees are normal, although at night it can be minus temperatures.

Central Italy is also fairly cold, but without snow, so temperatures average up to 10 degrees. There is often rain and fog which can make it feel colder as well. In the south, winter temperatures go up to 16 degrees, so it may not feel very cold at all, although in the evenings a coat is still needed.

What is the coldest it gets in Italy?

If you are traveling to the north, expect temperatures of at least down to -10 degrees as it can get extremely cold in the winter months. In the region of Pale di S. Martino, it has even been known to reach minus 50 degrees.

If you aren’t heading to the Dolomites or Alps, you don’t need to worry about it getting too cold.

How often does Italy snow?

In the north of Italy, it snows regularly between at least December and March each year. Northern cities such as Milan also get an average of seven days of snow per year, normally in January although it doesn’t often settle.

Otherwise, in cities further south including Rome, and any of Italy’s islands, it almost never snows, and seeing snow is very rare.

Is Italy warm at Christmas?

Italy is not warm at Christmas. In the south of Italy on the Italian Riviera, you may be able to enjoy a slightly warmer Christmas without needing a coat, it will be sunny enough to visit the beach but the water will be cold.

From Rome up to the northern mountains, Christmas is usually freezing, sometimes with snow or rain.

Florence Cathedral and the Brunelleschi Dome
Florence Cathedral and the Brunelleschi Dome

What is the best month to visit Italy?

The best month of the year to visit Italy, in general, would be May, June, or September, since it is usually warm, but also not too crowded or humid as it would be in August.

If you are searching for a real winter escape, visit the north of Italy and the Dolomites in January, for white villages and heavy snowfall, or December for snow and Christmas markets.

When did it last snow in Italy?

The last time it snowed in Italy was very recently, since winter has already begun. Italy saw snowfall on 22nd November in the northern ski area of La Thuile, which is located in the Italian Alps.

Does Italy have four sessions?

Italy certainly has four distinct seasons. Summer has a very hot Mediterranean climate and usually lasts from June to August.

Fall begins soon after in September, where temperatures are slightly lower but still warm, although the north begins to get colder.

Winter stretches from December all the way to March and is very cold in the north, and there is rain further south.

Spring is between March and May when the country once again starts to warm up, and the trees and flowers begin to bloom.

Can I drive in Italy when it snows?

Yes, you can totally drive in Italy when it snows, and you can find very affordable car rental deals if you book in advance. However, you should know that snow and ice make the roads quite slippery.

Also, it is mandatory by law to have snow tires or snow chains between November 15th and April 15th. The car rental should know and provide them included in the rate.

However, I would rather have snow tires instead of chains so that you don’t have to stop in the middle of a storm to put the chains on.

Does it snow in Italy? Final thoughts and things to keep in mind

Visiting Italy in winter is surprisingly one of the best times to go! Not only will you find that accommodation and tours are far cheaper, but it is definitely less crowded unless you are visiting busy ski areas.

Italy is a large country but it has an excellent train system, so you can easily combine visits to famous cities such as Milan or Venice, which will be cold but less crowded, and have cute winter markets, with snowy paradise destinations such as the Italian Alps or Lake Garda.

As there are fewer tourists, you will definitely find more locals in restaurants and cafes, so you might even have the chance to make some new friends or learn Italian!

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