November is the worst month to travel to Italy.
Let me preface that by saying: The best time to visit Italy is whenever you’re able to visit Italy.
If you do have a choice,
Avoid Italy in November.
There’s no festive holiday and the weather tends toward dismal.
While much of America is cold but crisp with pleasing notes of orange red and yellow foliage, Italy is cold, humid and wet.
Spring in Italy is paradise. Late autumn is a rainy inferno.
We’re talking about weather here, so obviously it all depends on that particular year. But climate-wise, November is a rainy month.
This year November came in like a lion’s roar with a winds equivalent to category 1 hurricane force and storms that knocked out most of Italy’s coastline. Venice is roughly 5 feet underwater, its worse flooding in a decade, Rome’s ancient pines are knocked down, homes were evacuated. And though obviously not every November starts with such dramatic and devastating weather, it’s a clear counterpoint to this cutesy Travel + Leisure article, “Why November Is The Best Time to Travel to Italy“. That is, lower airfare, seasonal produce, changing leaves and fall festivals. To which I’d respond, all but the airfare is without a doubt better in October.
STILL, if you do happen to come to Italy in November, all is not lost. Just come prepared.
Here’s What to Expect for November in Italy:
Rain … but relatively mild temperatures
Like I said before, November is Italy’s rainiest month throughout the entire peninsula, but it’s not the coldest.
If you want to avoid the bad weather, try the south. Average temps are roughly: 43° – 53° F in the North, 46° – 62°F in Central Italy and 50° – 64° in the South. Another upside is that generally the rain tends to pour down, then stop completely for that day. Allowing you to still get out and about and enjoy the electric atmosphere and gorgeous post-storm light.
Shorter days… but fewer crowds
By November daylight savings time has ended, so you can expect it to be dark by 6:00 p.m. Most sites and attractions have shorter operating hours as well, so double check last call at your must-see sites. In some places, especially seasonal destinations (think the coast or the mountains) hotels and restaurants will be completely closed for the season. That said, there are always other options, the big tourist cities are open and running and there is plenty to do in Italy even after dark.
Of course what makes up for the short days and rainy weather more than absolutely anything else are the sparse crowds. Italy is almost never clear of tourists, but a month like November is your best bet to have the place to yourself. Navigate the Vatican without the four-hour line. Actually walk in a straight line in Ligurian coastal towns without feeling herded like cattle. Enjoy a Roman café in local company. That’s the upside to November.
Few festivities… but perfect Christmas shopping
Despite what that T+L article claimed, most of Italy’s famous autumn festivals and sagre are finished by November, but not all! There’s still the White Truffle Festival in Alba and Turin’s infamous chocolate festival called CioccolaTò. Other sagre celebrate non-produce items, like pork, wine and fish. But what better place to do your Christmas shopping? Knock out everyone on your list with authentic, Made-in-Italy products straight from the source!
One of our top ways to travel ethically in Italy is to buy local. Italy has a long history of artisan crafts and a strong Made-in-Italy brand. Choose something with a home, a story and a history to give your loved ones this December.
Fewer outdoor activities… but plenty to do
So much of Italy is meant to be seen outdoors, on foot. In November, that might not always be possible. So the weather’s crappy, but don’t let that ruin your parade! You know about all the museums, but be sure to enjoy an Italian breakfast indoors, not to mention a leisurely lunch and dinner. Also: look to covered markets, cities with arched porticos like Bologna and indoor thermal baths. There’s the theater, the opera and good old concerts. Think outside the box and you just might get an experience better than on any fair-weathered day!