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Italy in January

We are planning our 25th anniversary and can only visit Italy in January for 2 weeks. Is this a really bad time. We really want to go, but not if it is cold and wet. Any suggestions or comments would be very helpful. Thank you

Posted by
10344 posts

Brenda: I just now double checked by Private Message (PM) with Ron in Rome, his enthusiastic recommendation for January was for Rome, not for the Cinque Terre. Ron said he'd PM you on this, and he did not want you to think his recommendation was for the CT in January. Rome is one of the places you would want to go to in January.

Posted by
10344 posts

Brenda: You asked if it is cold in January: it depends on what you mean by cold--compared to where you live in Southern California, yes it will be cold or at least coolish--but weather is difficult to describe in words. Will it be wet? That's difficult to reliably predict, it can be damp that time of the year, but who really knows. To see some of the weather facts for yourself so you can make the best decision, go to weather.com, input a larger city near where you're thinking about going, when today's weather comes up, scroll down and look for the Averages button, it will take you to long term average temp and precip data by month.99% of travelers will rule out certain destinations in January: you won't want to go to the Cinque Terre or the Northern Italian Lakes in January, these outdoor-oriented areas pretty much close down to tourists in January because of the weather. You also ask: is January "really a bad time" to go? That depends on how badly you want to go, what your other choices are, where you want to go in Italy, what you want to do (fascinated by Florence museums? or are you going for the outdoor things?). Most American travelers choose not to go in January and that's partly because of the weather. But you'll find some travelers who enjoy going there in January: lower prices, no lines. Rome and other destinations that have indoor things to do, where you can get in out of the cold and warm up during the day, can be enjoyable that time of year.It's important that we give you accurate information here, so that if you choose to go in January you go with accurate, and not unrealistic, expectations about the weather--since the weather is a concern to you.

Posted by
209 posts

Depending upon where you're going it may range from slightly nippy (southern Italy) to rather cold (here up north). If you're not used to colder temperatures, it might affect your vacation.

If you bundle up (hat/scarf/coat) I don't think it is a problem at all. The sights are still gorgeous and chances are you're there with fewer visitors. I loved especially Murano in late December. It felt extra magical then.

In Venice at least (other places too, I'd guess) you can usually find a vendor with hot spiced wine if you need to warm up :) That can be very cozy and definitely not something you commonly find here in the summer time!

Posted by
1127 posts

Go in January. Yes you will need to pack for warmth but your money will go a lot further during the low season than it will if go during the peak season on May/June. Plus the sights won't be nearly as crowded. I was once in Rome in January and my wife & I had the pleasure of having Trevi Fountain to ourselves one evening: PRICELESS!

Posted by
32201 posts

Brenda,

I haven't been in Italy in January (I prefer the shoulder seasons), but Kent provided an excellent description of what to expect. However, I have seen news reports on Italian TV (TG 24) during the winter showing weather-related problems, and it can be miserable at times, especially in northern Italy!

You didn't indicate which part of Italy you were planning to visit? I'd suggest that focusing on Rome and south might be a good plan. It could still be wet, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Have a look at www.inforoma.it/weather.php for a brief description of Italian weather.

Happy 25th and Happy travels!!!

Posted by
3592 posts

Our love affair with Italy (10 visits so far) began with a trip during the school Xmas vacation period. Much of what we saw in Rome and Florence was indoors, so it didn't matter. We experienced pretty nice weather until we got to Venice, where it actually snowed. We were still glad we had included it on our itinerary. You might consider taking one of your weeks in Sicily. We were there another year in January, and the weather was beautiful (no guarantees, of course). The food is great, and the sights are fabulous. Follow the conventional wisdom about winter travel: layers, hats, gloves, scarves. I would get some of those silk long-johns and a fleece vest to prepare for the possibility of cold weather.

Posted by
8938 posts

We were in Rome the first part of Feb. which I know isn't Jan. but we thought the weather wasn't bad at all. We often unbuttoned our coats as the sun was shining and it was fairly pleasant. Reminded me more of a fall day in Ohio. Sometimes though, ya just don't know. If I was to go again, I think I would pick this time of year.

Posted by
11 posts

This is Brenda and I want to thank all of you for your great answers and advice. January is the only time we can go to Italy. One of the places we were hoping to visit is Cinque Terre which Kent said we will not be able to visit. Has anyone been there in January? We are planning on flying into Rome and out of Venice which is another place I have always wanted to visit. We don't care to go to the beaches, but rather the museums, etc. I am just concerned that it will be dark, cold and raining.

Does anyone have any great lower price places they can recommend between these cities?

Thank you again. Brenda

Posted by
10344 posts

Brenda: I didn't mean that you cannot go to Cinque Terre in January, as in not allowed to go there! The CT is relatively far north in Italy and on the coast, which means in January it's often exposed to windy, cool/cold, damp weather. And it's not a museum or indoorsy kind of place.I haven't been there in January, but from having been there in other months, and hanging around this Board for two years, I've gotten the impression that January is one of the worst months to visit the Cinque Terre to do the outdoor hiking, strolling and other outdoor activities that are the reasons why people choose to go to the CT more in April to October. We have also had reports here that many of the tourist hotels and other tourist services in the CT are closed in January since there are so few travelers because of the weather.We want you to get accurate information here, so that if you choose to go to the Cinque Terre in January you'll have realistic expectations and be properly prepared for the conditions that you're most likely to face.

Posted by
1317 posts

Hi Brenda,

Note that Kent said 99% of travelers would rule out those areas. That doesn't mean you can't go there--it simply means that you will not get the same experience as you would at other times of the year, and perhaps you might prefer going to other locations that are more appropriate for January.

You stated that the only time you have to go is two weeks in January. If you really want to go to Italy, then I'd say go! Yeah, it might rain some, but you shouldn't melt and a lot of the sights are indoors, layering eliminates a lot of temperature issues, and many Italian cities are best after dark--so getting dark early works in your favor!

Posted by
2207 posts

Brenda - January is a great time to visit. Dress warm and you'll be fine. Early in the month you can be part of the Epiphany celebrations (Jan 6th). The Square in St. Peters is decorate through mid- January. The streets are emptier, the museums are less crowded, and rates are better.

You may not see trees and flowers in bloom, but you can still toss your coins in the Trevi, tour the Colosseum, and have the Pantheon to yourself! Living here, we ENJOY that time of year!

Good luck in your decision!
Ciao,
Ron

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you all very much for your time and wonderful, thoughtful advice. I have just booked our air and we will be visiting Italy from Jan. 12 through Jan. 29. We are thrilled. I have never been to Italy and this is a once in a lifetime trip for us. Since it was January and knowing that we might not get another chance to visit this wonderful country, I wanted to make sure the weather would be decent. We are hoping to visit Venice and Cinque Terre and hope we can get some reservations. If anyone has any suggestions, much would be appreiciated. This is the first time I have ever posted a public post like this and am overwhelmed from the helpful, friendly responses from around the world. It warms my heart.

Thank you, Brenda

Posted by
32201 posts

Brenda,

Hopefully this won't be a "once in a lifetime" trip for you. As Rick says, "assume you will return".

If you're set on going to the Cinque Terre in January, you might want to focus on the northern most town, Monterosso al Mare. It's the largest of the five, and has the best selection of Hotels and so on. As Kent mentioned, many of the tourists facilities do close in the winter months (especially December and January), so you're more likely to find a Hotel there. Check Rick's Italy book for suggestions.

Also, if this is your first trip to Italy (Europe?), you may want to have a look at the "Rail Skills" chapter in Europe Through The Back Door. I assume you'll be travelling by rail?

Cheers!

Posted by
401 posts

Glad that you decided to take a chance on coming in January. I second that it can be a great time because of the smaller number of tourists, no lines, etc. Just remember to dress warmly, even if you plan to head south, because a) there are parts of Southern Italy that get more snow and bad weather than we do in the North b) INDOOR heating is not what we are used to in the US, people keep the thermostats on low, and c) I have no reason why, but the weather always seems to get particularly fierce in Rome at the end of January, it maybe sunny, but gets cold. Bundle up and have a great time.