Traveling to Italy in April: What You Need to Know

Pausing in Venice in April || creative commons photo by Sam Stockman

Pausing in Venice in April || creative commons photo by Sam Stockman

I would argue that May is now part of Italy’s high summer tourist season, which means April is the end of the spring – a period I genuinely think is Italy’s last real shoulder season. Yes, the weather is a little more difficult to predict than it is in June or January, but you’re far more likely to enjoy sun and warm weather in April than you are to get rained on.

April in Italy isn’t as crowd-free as you might expect for a shoulder season, partly because the weather is improving and also because there are often some big-ticket holidays and events that take place in April. Of course, those events may be just the reason you want to book the trip. If you’re going to Italy in April, here’s what you need to know about weather and holidays.

Weather in Italy in April

April in the northern hemisphere is turning its head firmly toward summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunny skies. In Italy, April weather can be pretty unpredictable – remember those famous “April showers” from the childrens’ rhyme? – though it’s typically far sunnier than it is wet.

April in the north is more apt to be rainy and slightly cooler than in the south. It’s not as if Sicilians are heading to beaches in droves in April, but vacationers from colder climates might be tempted. In general, it’s usually a good idea to pack both a small umbrella or rain jacket with your sunglasses. You may just end up needing both in the course of a day.

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

  • Northern Italy: 40-60°F (5-16°C)
  • Central Italy: 50-65°F (10-18°C)
  • Southern Italy: 55-65°F (13-18°C)

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.

Holidays & Festivals in Italy in April

Although Easter follows the liturgical calendar – meaning it doesn’t happen on the same date every year – it’s often in April. Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and all of Holy Week leading up to them are all major holidays on the Italian calendar. For some people, being in Italy for Easter is a dream come true – to see Easter Mass at the Vatican or the exploding cart in Florence – but if you’re not expecting the festivities it might just end up being a headache of closed signs and fewer trains.

In other words, consult my calendar of Italian holidays and festivals before you leave to find out when Easter happens this year.

Other holidays that happen in April on fixed dates include the Anniversary of the Founding of Rome (April 21st, celebrated only in Rome, obviously) and Liberation Day (April 25th, national holiday). There are also saint’s days to take into consideration, when cities celebrate their patron saint. In Venice, for instance, April 25th is the feast day of Saint Mark, and there are celebrations in the city. These saint’s days don’t usually shut down a city, so they shouldn’t cause travelers too many problems even if you aren’t aware of them until you see the festivities.

April isn’t all seriousness, either. April 1st is Italy’s version of April Fool’s Day, called “Pesce d’Aprile,” or April’s Fish.

Why should you go to Italy in April?

As I said earlier, I would argue that the spring is Italy’s last real shoulder season. And if the truly transitional weather in March seems too potentially dreary for you, then April is your best bet.

Shoulder seasons typically offer the best combination of decent weather, smaller crowds, and good prices, so they’re understandably appealing. Of course, given that Easter is one of Italy’s biggest holidays, the period right around the Easter holidays constitutes a brief high season in the middle of spring both in terms of prices and crowds. Again, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t visit Italy during Easter – it’s simply to say that you need to be prepared.

In this case, being prepared means booking accommodation well in advance, trying to avoid making Easter Sunday or Monday one of your travel days (pick a spot and stay put for a few days if you can), or at the very least booking your train tickets and reservations in advance since trains and other public transportation will be operating on a more limited holiday schedule. It also means being aware of what attractions are closed for the holidays.

And speaking of being prepared, the fact that you may need both an umbrella and sunglasses in one day may not be your idea of the perfect Italian vacation. April is often sunny, but there are also freak storms that can drench you if you’re dressed for summer or don’t have a cafe to duck into at a moment’s notice. Travelers with a stricter budget will probably not mind being ready for whatever weather comes along in order to save a bit on a trip; but if the Italy vacation you want is entirely focused on beaches or hiking or the like then you might want to choose a summer trip instead.

All things considered, despite April’s potentially unpredictable weather, I think it can be an excellent time to go to Italy. For first-time visitors, it’s a chance to see the biggest attractions without the biggest crowds. For people who are making a return trip, it’s a chance to get away from the usual sights and perhaps see one of Italy’s biggest holidays in full swing. And as long as you aren’t so rushed that you can’t spare a half hour here and there to sip hot chocolate in a bar while that rainstorm dissipates, you’ll be just fine.

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