Europe & Britain | Inspiration

7 reasons why shoulder season is the best time to visit Italy

That dreamy Italian escapade is always a good idea, and the best time to visit Italy might surprise you – it’s the shoulder season.

Okay, we’ll be honest, there’s never a bad time to visit Italy, with its timeless charm and endless bowls of pasta, but it’s during the shoulder season that the country truly shines. If you visit Italy in April or May, or September and October, you’ll find the thinner crowds, a pleasant climate, and delicious seasonal eating.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into allure of the shoulder season, sharing the most compelling reasons why this is the best time of year to visit Italy.

Shoulder season brings the best weather

Spring’s arrival paints Italy’s picturesque landscapes with abundant blooms, making the perfect backdrop to your explorations amid pleasantly mild temperatures in April and May. Then autumn in Italy unfolds in September and October, after the summer rush you’ll find quieter streets and milder weather – often a relief from the hot summer highs. 

During Italy’s shoulder season, spanning April, May, September, and October, the temperatures remain in an optimal range. This gives you the chance to explore active outdoor pursuits and fun foodie adventures without breaking into too much of a sweat. 

The shoulder season’s weather depends on whether you’re exploring the north or the south, as the Italian Alps experience a very different climate to downtown Rome, for example. In Italy in late April, you can expect highs of around ​​20°C (68°F) and climbing as summer approaches. In September in Rome, expect highs of around 24 to 28°C (75 to 82°F).

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Shoulder season means smaller crowds

Traveling during Italy’s shoulder season, spanning April, May, September, and October, lets you navigate iconic sites with significantly smaller crowds. Summer in Italy is the peak of the peak, with massive amounts of tourists traveling to “the boot” for sunshine and a few Aperol spritz.

While September will still have summer overflow, by traveling in the more off-beat months of April and May you’ll explore Italy’s historical treasures with an air of exclusivity, and savor delicious food without having to queue. This strategic choice to explore during the shoulder season gives you a front-row seat to Italy’s splendor! Chin chin!

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It’s more budget-friendly 

Securing a budget deal in Italy during the summer months is akin to chasing a mirage in the scorching sun. As the peak tourist season opens, demand skyrockets and anyone on a tight budget might find themselves left out. Summer transforms Italy into a magnet for travelers worldwide, driving those prices to soar. 

So, if you’re looking for a bargain the key is to travel during these shoulder months, where if you keep an eager eye out you can find hot deals on Trafalgar tours, accommodation, and more. Italy in April or May, or after the summer rush is a lot friendlier for those seeking wallet-friendly options or discounts.

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Enjoy Italy’s seasonal spring produce in April and May

If you always travel to Italy in July, you’ll always enjoy the same experiences. There’s no denying that any trip to Italy is about food, food, food – and if you visit in a different month you’ll encounter short-lived seasonal produce that gets the locals excited.

If you visit Italy in April, artichokes take center stage, gracing tables in various forms, from crisp Roman-style carciofi to creamy artichoke pasta. As the weather warms, May introduces an abundance of peas, fava beans, and asparagus, infusing dishes with a burst of green goodness. Tender lettuces and zesty lemons also make their debut, providing a refreshing touch to salads and seafood. In terms of desserts, it’s the beginning of the strawberry season too!

RELATED BLOG: 7 reasons our travel experts recommend traveling in shoulder season

Explore autumnal flavors and the harvest in September and October 

In September and October, the mood shifts to autumnal flavors. September marks the arrival of juicy and sweet figs. The grape harvest begins, celebrating the start of winemaking season. It’s also a prime time for the earthy flavors of porcini mushrooms and truffles. As October unfolds, the Italian countryside bursts with the hues of ripe persimmons and pomegranates. Chestnuts make their seasonal debut, often roasted and enjoyed as a popular street snack. Olive harvesting commences, promising the freshest extra virgin olive oils. 

Basically: visit in the shoulder months for a whole different view on Italy! 

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Experience the best cultural events

Italy loves to celebrate everything, from seasonal fruit to ancient traditions. If you travel Italy in April, you might be there for Rome’s birthday celebration – Natale di Roma – with events, parades, and historical reenactments. Florence hosts the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a renowned music festival, while Milan showcases the Salone del Mobile, a global design exhibition.

In May, Venice comes alive with the Vogalonga, a rowing regatta. The Tuscan city of Lucca hosts the Lucca Film Festival. The Infiorata festivals, where streets are adorned with intricate flower carpets, unfold in various regions, and Italy’s Liberation Day (Festa della Liberazione), commemorates the end of World War II. 

In September, Venice hosts the Venice Film Festival, a prestigious cinematic event drawing global attention to the city’s iconic venues. The Regata Storica, a historical water pageant, mesmerizes spectators along the Grand Canal. Florence hosts the Rificolona Festival, illuminating the city with colorful lanterns.

And finally, in October, Siena’s Palio delle Contrade, a historic horse race, captivates with its medieval pageantry. Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato Festival celebrates classic and restored films. Throughout both autumn months, numerous wine and harvest festivals unfold in wine regions.

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Flexible planning and fun

If you’re a relaxed traveler who doesn’t like to over-plan, the shoulder seasons are your ally – and peak season is your enemy. By traveling during the quieter months you’ll have the flexibility to make choices on the fly. If you hate having to book every detail, from accommodation to restaurants, well ahead of time, then the shoulder season is the best time to travel in Italy.

These transitional periods offer a unique canvas where you can be spontaneous and adjust plans on the go. This can help you form a deeper connection with the country’s cultural treasures and natural wonders at your own pace. Of course, whatever style of planning you enjoy most – planning a trip is hard work, which is why many trust Trafalgar to take care of all the tricky details.

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Are you planning a trip to Italy this year? What do you think is the best time of year to visit Italy and when will you go? Leave us a comment…

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