Traveling to Italy in August: What You Need to Know

August on Isola Bella || creative commons photo by Freebird

August on Isola Bella || creative commons photo by Freebird

August is firmly in the summer as far as calendar seasons go in Italy. Because so many Italians take their vacations for the entire month, however, August also represents a bit of a drop in terms of the tourist season in places like Rome and Florence as locals flock to the beaches to escape the heat and humidity in the cities.

In other words, August in Italy can have its pros and cons for travelers, depending on what your itinerary looks like and how heat-tolerant you are. The important thing is to do some research so you know what August has in store for you before you land.

If you’re traveling to Italy in August, here’s what you need to know about weather and holidays.

Weather in Italy in August

Temperature averages are, by definition, constantly changing. The temperatures listed here represent the range that’s out there at the moment, but the weather has been getting increasingly warmer over the years, and these numbers look downright cool in comparison to some of the “heat wave” stories I’ve read recently.

In other words, August in Italy is – lately – really hot, almost everywhere you go.

Some average temperature ranges for different parts of Italy in August are:

  • Northern Italy: 65-85°F (18-30°C)
  • Central Italy: 70-90°F (21-32°C)
  • Southern Italy: 80-90°F (26-32°C)

August is typically Italy’s hottest month, and that’s coupled with high humidity in many parts of the country. This is one of the main reasons August is the vacation month for most Italians (and many other Europeans) – they hang “closed” signs on their city storefronts and make a beeline for the nearest beach.

You might think hot weather is no big deal, but remember that even on hot days back home you’re usually sitting at work or inside an air-conditioned house, not constantly on the go trying to complete a checklist of an itinerary. If you’re willing to brave the heat, then at least give yourself plenty of cooling and hydrating breaks, and make sure your hotel has AC.

And, as always, check the current extended forecast for where you’re actually going just before you leave – when you’re packing is the perfect time – so you can find out in advance if it’s unseasonably cold or warm.

Read more on my Italy weather page

Holidays & Festivals in Italy in August

Although August is the main Italian vacation month, it’s also the month that holds one of the country’s national holidays. Ferragosto, also known as Assumption Day, is on August 15th. Even in the big cities where things have stayed open in August, shops and restaurants (and some museums and other attractions) may be closed on the 15th for the holiday.

There are two runnings of the Palio of Siena each summer, and the second one happens in August on the 16th. Verona’s Opera Festival continues through August and into early September, and there are other local festivals and holidays that fall in August, too.

It’s always a good idea to check my Italian holiday calendar to see what’s going on when you’re there, and to check in with the local tourist information offices to get even more details on special events.

Why should you go to Italy in August?

You may be asking why anyone would bother going to Italy in August if even the Italians are trying their best to get out of the cities at that point. It’s a valid question. And there are, at least for some travelers, a couple good answers.

Namely – lower prices and smaller crowds.

Summer is part of Italy’s high tourist season, but because so many Italians get August off there’s a drop in the prices on things like hotel rooms. And because the Italians aren’t in the cities, the crowds are smaller. Other European travelers, on the whole, also head for the beach during August, so the tourist crowds are thinner, too.

What this means for anyone who does head for Italy in August is that lines to get into city museums and attractions are typically shorter than they were even in July, and your travel budget will go further than it would have a month ago. The price you pay for the smaller crowds and better deals is, of course, suffering through what is often extremely hot and humid weather (along with some shops and restaurants closed for the month).

The main tourist cities – places like Rome, Venice, and Florence – aren’t ghost towns in August. It’s smaller towns that don’t have a steady tourist influx that are most likely to feel abandoned in August. Except, of course, for the beaches – every beach in Italy is packed in August, and every hotel near a beach is at full capacity.

If you’re anything like me and extreme heat makes you feel ill, I’d caution you against an August trip in Italy – or, at the very least, I’d advise you to adopt a very leisurely pace and drink lots of water. If you’re a sun junkie who relishes the idea of a summer bargain, then August might be the ideal time for you to be in Italy.

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