January 1: New Year’s Day January 6: Epiphany March/April: Easter Monday April 25: Liberation Day May 1: Labor Day June 2: Anniversary of the Founding of the Republic August 15: Feast of the Assumption November 1: All Saints’ Day December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception December 25: Christmas Day December 26: St. Steven’s Day Most importantly, business is in full swing in the fall. To understand the glamorous reputation of Milan, you should see it when people return tanned and relaxed from summer vacation, the fashion models start to arrive, and the beautiful people put on parties. You might want to check out the calendar on the trade fair’s website, www.fieramilano.it, to see when the fashion and design shows are. (Usually, the Salone del Mobile design fair begins in April, while the women’s fashion shows are in late September and late February.) Conversely, you should stay away during those dates if you haven’t yet booked a hotel. The best restaurants also fill up quickly. Winter: Turin, Veneto, and Alto Adige. The Dolomites need to be seen in the snow. If Easter should be done in Rome, Christmas should be done in Trento, in a frosty town with alpine scenery and heavy meals. Plus, the skiing at Madonna di Campiglio and Cortina d’Ampezzo is some of the best in Italy.
Spring: Everywhere else. Rome, Florence, and Naples are fine to visit in the fall but are at their peak in the spring. So are the Cinque Terre area of Liguria and the lakes region of Lombardy, both of which are in full bloom and enjoy perfect weather. The same is true for almost any pastoral area, especially Abruzzo and Umbria, which holds its cherry festival just after the winter. Every region hosts hundreds of festivals and events throughout the year. (A nice database of them is at www.whatsonwhen.com.) Many are held in the summer”most notably, Spoleto’s music festival in June and the Umbria Jazz Festival and the Palio of Siena, which run in July and August”either for historical reasons or to dovetail with the tourist influx. Others, such as the Venice Film Festival in late August or early September, are timed to let the tourists get out first.
If, on your first trip, you’ve chosen a region and are reasonably sure this is where you’d like to live, it’s always best to come a second time in a different season. You may have fallen in love with Puglia or the Italian Riviera during your stay in July, but do you realize how lonely it can get there in the winter? Like all resorts, the Italian lakes and coastlines are buzzing with festivals and activities in the summer, but it’s all downhill from there.
Northern cities like Milan may seem an ideal choice for urbanites, with their swank shops, cafs, and cosmopolitan population, but most of these disappear in July and August, when the humidity and mosquitoes descend. Similarly, Venice”aka la Serenissima”is indeed the most serene and romantic city in the world in the off-season, but feels more like Disneyland when the tourists start arriving in May. A city or region that was off-putting on your first trip might take on redeeming qualities if you come back in a different season. You should try short-term rentals in a few places in various months before starting an earnest search for a house. Again, keep in mind that you won’t be able to get much real estate business done in the summer. In other seasons, a three-day weekend in Italy can magically turn into a week, so don’t plan to reach agents or even homeowners in the periods around Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter.