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The facade of Santa Croce church with the Christmas market in the foreground. People are walking in the market, wearing coats. It's December in Italy.

Italy In December – Your 2024 Complete Guide from Someone Who Lives Here

Twinkling lights, fresh cool air, snow in the mountains, seasonal foods, fewer tourists – Italy in December can make for a surprisingly pleasant visit. 

In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret – December in Italy is magical! 

I live in Italy with my family and based on our many Decembers here, I can give you first-hand information on what it’s really like to be here in dicembre (December).

In this article you’ll learn: 

  • if visiting Italy in December is a good choice for you 
  • what the weather is like in Italy in December 
  • which holidays Italy celebrates in December and which days things are closed 
  • my recommended places to visit in December in Italy, including where to go with kids 
  • the best activities in Italy in December, including, sports, events, Christmas markets, and religious celebrations 
  • which foods to try in Italy in December 
  • what Italians do in December 
  • what to wear in Italy in December 
  • the best ways to travel around Italy in December 

If you’re looking for something specific, check out the Table of Contents below so you can jump ahead to what you’re looking for:

First trip to Italy? 10th? Either way, check out our 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips!

Should You Visit Italy in December? 

Infographic listing the best reasons to visit Italy in December vs. the best reasons not to visit Italy in December.

December probably isn’t the first month that pops into mind when you think of the ideal time to travel to Italy. Everyone talks about the other three seasons – the beautiful Italian spring and its rolling green hills, the summer and the Italian beach culture, and the autumn, with its grape harvests and fall festivals.   

However, winter in Italy can be a perfect time to visit!  In December, you’ll have about 9 hours of sunshine a day to: 

  • sightsee in cities lit up with twinkling holiday lights 
  • ski or snowboard on some of Europe’s best slopes 
  • visit world-famous museums and shops – without hordes of other tourists 
  • sample Italian regional holiday delicacies 
  • and more! 

While I recommend visiting Italy in the spring or autumn, I’ve had family, friends, and clients visit Italy in December and if you research and plan out your activities and dress appropriately, it can be an incredible time of year to visit. 

Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February

Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in July
Italy in August
Italy in September
Italy in October

Italy in November
Italy in December

Still not sure if December in Italy is right for you?  Let’s go into a little more detail: 

6 Reasons You Should Visit Italy in December 

Two people look at a Christmas tree of lights in Italy in December.  The street is empty.  There are lights hanging between buildings.  You can see bicycles parked on the right.
My mom and son checking out lights on Via Tornabuoni in Florence
  1. The crowds are gone!  You can travel to cities like Rome and Florence and feel like a local!  The tourists that are around are usually from other parts of Italy or Europe.  Note that the days surrounding Christmas and New Years will draw crowds in some cities – especially Rome.
  2. Italy has incredible ski resorts.   
  3. You can discover other sides of popular destinations.   
  4. The country gets into the holiday spirit with lights, decorations, Christmas tree lightings, Christmas markets, and festivals.
  5. If you’ve got kids, the summer and December may be your only options for traveling to Italy (based on your child’s school vacations).  It’s a great time to meet Italian kids and families because most Italians don’t leave the country during the short school winter break. 
  6. Depending on where you travel, it can be an inexpensive time to visit.  It’s low season in Florence, for example, so you’ll find great deals on hotels. 

While there are far fewer crowds than most other months of the year, it’s always best to reserve tickets for any museums or events you don’t want to miss.  Many museums limit entry numbers so you’ll want to book in advance.  I always recommend booking advance tickets to popular sites like The Last Supper (Milan), The Vatican Museums (Rome), The Colosseum (Rome), The Uffizi Gallery (Florence), and The Accademia Gallery (Florence).

6 Reasons You May Not Want To Visit Italy in December 

Wet road with grey sky.  Green grass and olive trees on both sides of the road.
A rainy day near our home in Tuscany
  1. You’ll find some things are closed.  Beach towns and amusement parks close up for the winter.  Some restaurants and shops in small towns close during the winter months because they don’t see enough visitors to make it worth it to stay open.  Almost everything is closed on the 25th and 26th.
  2. You won’t be able to swim at the beach, hike in the Dolomites, kitesurf on Lake Como or participate in other warm-weather activities.   
  3. The weather is often rainy and cold.  
  4. Depending on where you travel, it can be an expensive time to visit.  It’s high season for ski resorts in the Dolomites, for example, so expect to pay a premium for hotels, activities, and restaurants. 
  5. There is less sunlight (9 hours per day, versus 15 hours per day in June).  Although, darkness is perfect for looking at the Christmas lights! 
  6. If you’re looking for shopping bargains, you’ll need to wait for January, when Italy has one of its two sales periods (the other is in July). 

Weather in Italy in December 

Italy isn’t a large country, but the weather in December in Italy varies quite a bit depending on where you are.   

Northern Italy can be very cold and sees snow at higher elevations.  Temperatures hover around the 5 Celsius degree mark (41 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Central Italy also tends to have cold winters and can see snow.  Temperatures are usually around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Southern Italy is warmer during December, but it’s not sunbathing weather!  Temperatures tend to hover around 14 degrees Celsius (57 Fahrenheit). 

Many Italian cities (Milan, Florence, Parma to name a few) can feel extra cold during the winter when humidity combines with the chilly temperatures. 

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave.  The weather can surprise you – we’ve spent more than one Christmas Day here in Florence in short-sleeved shirts! 

Graphic showing black silhouette of Italy map and temperature and precipitation averages for major cities in Italy in December.
Milan45°F / 7°C33°F / 1°C9.8mmleast rainfall of the year
Venice47°F / 8°C34°F / 1°C13.2mmcoldest month, along with January
Florence52°F / 11°C38°F / 3°C36.7mm
Rome55°F / 13°C39°F / 4°C32mm
Naples58°F / 14°C43°F / 6°C42.8mm
Palermo61°F / 16° C52°F / 11°C54.6mmwettest month of the year
Average temperatures and precipitation source: timeanddate.com

Holidays in Italy in December

Graphic of the holidays in Italy in December.  Feast of the immaculate conception with a shooting star.  Christmas eve with a gift.  Christmas day with a tree.  St. Stephen's Day with a hand holding a coin with a heart on it.  New Year's Eve with two glasses of champagne.

Italy has more national holidays in December than any other month.  There are also a few other holidays that are observed in the workplace and in public. 

Not all Italians celebrate holidays the same way – it depends on the family and where you are in the country.

Below I’ve noted when things may be closed.   Opening days and hours vary by region and city. 

Also, some areas of the country are busier in December and will require more advance bookings for museums and reservations for restaurants.  For example, Rome can be busy during December with international visitors coming to participate in the Vatican City’s Christmas celebrations.  This means more restaurants will be open, but you’ll need to reserve.  Positano will be empty and restaurants are more likely to take walk-ins (if they are open – always check!).

You may want to read about
Where to Spend Christmas in Italy
12 Italian Christmas Traditions We Still Celebrate

December 8thLa Festa della Concezione Immacolata

Mother and son stand in front of a large Christmas tree of the 8th of December in Italy.
My son and I checking out the big Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo in Florence

Translation: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

What It Celebrates: The birth of the Virgin Mary without original sin.

What’s Going On: Spend time at home with family


  • Put up and decorate the Christmas tree
  • City tree lightings
  • Beginning of holiday festivals and markets

National Holiday: Yes

Open/Closed:  Museums and restaurants in larger cities will remain open, but smaller towns and villages may close up for the holiday.  Any museums or attractions with a religious tie will be closed (for example, the Vatican Museums in Rome).  Check with official museum websites and call restaurants to make sure they’ll be open. 

Reserve In Advance: Yes

If December 8th falls on a Friday or Monday, many Italians will take a long weekend so you’ll find more crowds at restaurants, museums, etc.

December 24th La Vigilia (di Natale)

Translation:  Christmas (Natale) Eve (Vigilia)

What It Celebrates: Day before the generally accepted birth of Jesus.

What’s Going On: Surprising to some, it’s business as usual during the day for Italians on Christmas Eve.  But, there are family dinners and gatherings in the evening, as well as Midnight Mass. This evening is more important than Christmas Day to some Italians.


  • Dinner with family (without meat)
  • Midnight mass

National Holiday: No

Open/Closed: Everything remains open, but some shops and restaurants will close a little early. 

Schools are closed so you’ll find more crowds at family-focused places.

Reserve In Advance: Yes (restaurants)

December 25th  Natale

Translation:  Christmas

What It Celebrates: The generally accepted birth date of Jesus.

What’s Going On: Families spend the day together, often in large groups.


  • Spend the day with family
  • Have a large meal
  • Enjoy a panettone or pandoro or other Christmas cake
  • Open gifts

National Holiday: Yes

Open/Closed: Almost everything in Italy is closed on Christmas (museums and attractions are closed), but Italians won’t let you starve, so you will still find some restaurants open. 

Public transport is very limited.  If possible, avoid traveling on Christmas Day in Italy.

Even though almost everything is closed, it doesn’t mean you need to stay inside – head out and explore the city, visit a church, look at holiday lights, or enjoy the outdoors!

Reserve In Advance: Yes (restaurants)

Spending the holidays in Italy? Or just curious about how we celebrate here? Learn more about Italian Christmas:
Where to Spend Christmas in Italy
Christmas in Italy for Kids – Traditions & How to Celebrate

How to Say Merry Christmas in Italian
Traditional Italian Christmas Foods

Traditional Italian Christmas Lunch
Authentic Italian Christmas Eve Dinner

Pandoro vs Panettone

Presepe – The Italian Nativity Scene
Babbo Natale – Italy’s Santa Claus
La Befana – Italy’s Christmas Witch
12 Italian Christmas Traditions We Still Celebrate
Where to Buy a Christmas Tree in Italy
10 Best Places to See Christmas Trees in Italy
Best Christmas Markets in Italy
Christmas in Tuscany

December 26th – Il Giorno di Santo Stefano

Translation:  St. Stephen’s Day

What It Celebrates: St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

What’s Going On: Families spend the day together. Some families stay at home, while others head outside (perhaps for a passeggiata with friends and family).  Some towns have processions honoring St. Stephen.


  • Make a donation
  • Visit a presepe (nativity scene)
  • Christmas trees don’t come down today.  In fact, Italians usually keep their Christmas trees up until the Epiphany (Epifania), on January 6th

National Holiday: Yes

Open/Closed: Most attractions, shops and restaurants are open.  Check opening hours because a few places (like the Vatican Museums in Rome) are closed.

Reserve In Advance: Yes (museums or attractions you can’t miss)

December 31st – (La Vigilia di) Capodanno or La Notte di San Silvestro

Translation:  New Year’s Eve.  Vigilia is ‘eve,’ capo is ‘head’ and d’anno is ‘of the year.’  It’s also called La Notte di San Silvestro, or Saint Silvester’s night, the saint’s day of Pope Silvester I, who died on December 31, 335.

What It Celebrates: The last day of the year (Gregorian calendar)

What’s Going On: Dinner celebrations at restaurants, fireworks.

Traditions: Depending on where you are in Italy for New Year’s Eve, you may find Italians who:

  • Wear red underwear for good luck
  • Eat tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth) for dinner
  • Eat zampone) con lenticche (a sausage inside a pork trotter with lentils) at midnight.  The lentils and sliced meat rolls symbolize wealth (they look like coins).  Some choose cotechino instead of zampone, which is essentially the same as zampone but looks more like a sausage (vs a pig foot).
  • Light a bonfire to ward off bad spirits,
  • Exchange figs wrapped in laurel leaves.
  • Light fireworks to scare off bad spirits.
  • Launch old objects from the window.  It’s not practiced any longer, but check out this clip from an Italian film:  
YouTube video

National Holiday: No

Open/Closed: Most places are open during the day but may close early in the evening so workers can get home to celebrate with their families and friends.

Reserve In Advance: Yes (ESSENTIAL for restaurants, recommended for museums or attractions you can’t miss)

School Holidays  

Small child playing in the snow in December in Italy.  There are coniferous trees nearby in the background.  The child is wearing a flourescent yellow helmet and a turquoise snow suit.
My son playing in the snow in Val di Luce

Italian schoolchildren typically get a 2-week holiday break from the 23rd of December until the day after the Epiphany (January 6th), or the following Monday if it falls on a weekend.  

This break is important to keep in mind because there will be crowds in holiday destinations in Italy (ski resorts, big cities) during this time. 

Public transportation will also be more crowded and you’ll find heavier traffic on the roads, especially in the beginning and the end of the break. 

Family hotels and activities will be in high demand, so if you do want (or need) to travel during this time, book well in advance! 

The 7 Best Places in Italy to Visit in December  

Graphic showing black map of Italy with 7 best places to visit in Italy in December - Bolzano, Torino, San Cassiano and Dolomites Ski Areas, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Taormina and Sicily.
LocationWhat To Do
San Cassiano (& Dolomites ski areas)ski Italy’s best slopes 
Romesee the Pope at Christmas Eve mass 
Taormina (& Sicily)watch the Carretti Siciliani while you munch on Sicilian sweets 
Veniceenjoy all of the twinkling lights while wandering the city’s bridges and tiny streets in the evening; visit one of Venice’s Islands
Bolzanosoak up the holiday atmosphere at Italy’s best Christmas market 
Torinofind the Artist’s Lights installations scattered throughout the city center 
Florencehave hot chocolate at a café, wander the streets, and admire the holiday decorations
Honorable Mention – Naplesexplore the city’s famous street of presepe (Nativity scene) artisans 
Honorable Mention – Milanexperience Italy’s best Christmas season shopping, explore the Brera district
Honorable Mention – Salernomarvel at some of Italy’s most spectacular holiday light displays 
Honorable Mention – Locorotondo (& Puglia)check out a presepe vivente (living nativity scene) and Pugliese delicacies

San Cassiano (& Dolomites ski areas) In December

If you’re looking for picture-perfect snowy villages, San Cassiano is your spot.  There are over 130 kilometers of skiing and snowboarding slopes and when you’re done, you can relax at clean, comfortable, well-equipped apartments, hotels, or B&Bs.   

The food is delicious and the people are part of the Ladin culture.  They have their own language, customs, recipes, and more.   

The town is small (a couple of shops, a little gelato/dessert shop, a pizzeria, a small grocery store, a Ladin museum) but if you’re looking for a little more action, you can head over to the world-famous Cortina d’Ampezzo for high-end shopping and people-watching or Corvara in Badia for a sportier atmosphere and more shops.   

I live closer to other ski/snowboard resorts, but prefer the ambiance and quality of services of the Dolomites.  And if there isn’t enough snow on the slopes (which is rare), they make snow, so you don’t need to worry about booking and not being able to ski or snowboard. 

Check out our 20 Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites!

Rome In December

Front entrance to restaurant in Rome with Christmas decorations and heating lamps and plastic 'walls' to keep diners warm.
Festive Ristorante San Pancrazio near Campo de’ Fiori. The space heaters and plastic ‘walls’ help keep you cozy on chilly winter evenings in Rome.

December is one of my favorite times of the year to visit Rome.  There are still tourists, but they’re mostly Europeans, and there are nowhere near the numbers you see other times of the year (except right around Christmas, when visitor numbers swell due to the Pope’s Christmas Eve mass and his Christmas Day blessing).   

Seeing the Colosseum without the crowds or wandering the Vatican Museums without shoulder-to-shoulder people is so much more enjoyable.   

Attend Christmas Eve mass or the Christmas Day blessing with the Pope at St. Peter’s Basilica.  Check out the huge tree (from somewhere in Italy, it changes annually) and the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. 

The city is decked out in Christmas lights and there are a few Christmas markets scattered throughout the center.   And, you can still get gelato!

My favorite places to look for gifts include the Monti neighborhood and via del Corso. 

Taormina (& Sicily) in December

Pasta all norma closeup.  It's on a white plate.  There is a fork on the right side of the plate and the bottom of wine glass in the upper right.
Pasta alla Norma

Sicily’s mild winter makes it ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to brave the cold temperatures in Italy in December.  The island is also packed full of culture and December brings out even more special events and moments.   

While the ‘big’ cities of Palermo and Siracusa are worth a winter visit if you pick one place to visit in Sicily in December, head to Taormina.   

Taormina’s December is jam-packed with cultural events, the city is lit up, and you can dine and sleep in style!  A perfect December day in Taormina could include breakfast pastries in the center, watching the Caretti Siciliani, shopping on the narrow via Teatro Greco, having evening aperitivo on the black and white terrace, and dinner of pasta alla Norma.  Aah, take me there!   

I also recommend visiting Siracusa and Palermo during December.   

Venice in December

A scene from daily life in Venice, Italy in December.  Around ten people are on the pavement near the edge of the canal.  You can see buildings on the other side of the canal.  One of the buildings has a large green dome.  There are a few godolas docked in the canal.  On the right is a boarding station for the water ferries.
On a winter trip to Venice with my boys

Hands down, our favorite time to visit Venice is in the winter!  Yes, it’s cold, and yes, you may need to deal with acqua alta, but wandering Venice alleyways or hopping on a vaporetto or a gondola for a ride around the canals is magical.  The fog and lights create a beautiful atmosphere. 

Many visitors to Venice in the winter stress about acqua alta (high water).
The MOSE barriers are activated and are raised when an extremely high tide is predicted.  MOSE hasn’t prevented all cases of acqua alta, because the barriers are only raised when an extreme high tide is forecast – and if the forecast is wrong, they may not be raised in time. 
Some of the worst flooding occurs in Piazza San Marco and the incredible Basilica. The city also uses glass barriers to stop the flooding in the Basilica.
If you’re ‘caught’ in the flooding, do as the locals do and use the platforms set up in the squares and along the streets. Just remember to stay to the right and avoid stopping for photos.

In December in Venice, my favorite activities include window-shopping and making evening rounds for cicchetti (Venice’s version of tapas).

Be sure to read
Tips for Your First Visit to Venice 
Going on a Gondola Ride in Venice

Bolzano In December

A scene from above of Bolzano, Italy in December.  The piazza is full of vendors from the Christmas market and the huge Christmas tree is lit up with golden lights.  There are graphic stars in the sky.  You can see people walking in the piazza and looking at the market stalls.
Bolzano’s Piazza Walther during the holidays

If I had to choose somewhere to visit in Italy in December that would satisfy any type of traveler, I’d choose Bolzano.  Near the Austrian border (and part of Austria before WWI), you’ll hear German more than Italian and see more sausages than pasta on restaurant menus.   

Bolzano has something for everyone – Italy’s best Christmas market, excellent shopping in the city center, ski slopes a short drive (or bus ride) away, its Archaeology Museum with Ötzi the Iceman, vineyards on its hillsides, and Italian and Austrian food! 

There are plenty of accommodations in the center or nearby, and the city is easily reached by public transport.   

If you love Bolzano’s Christmas market, you’ll also want to check out the Christmas markets in Merano, Trento, and Bressanone. 

Check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Bolzano!

Torino In December

A bicerin drink in a glass sitting on an outside cafe table in Torino, Italy in December.  There are graphic holiday lights above and a green bush in the foreground.
A bicerin

In addition to the installations in the city center, there are more in the surrounding areas.  You can go on a scavenger hunt, in search of each of the artists’ works.   

Torino has a wonderful sidewalk café culture, and it continues (but in a smaller way) during the winter.  There’s also plenty of indoor seating at cafes – perfect for reading a book while sipping on bicerin (a Torinese hot drink of milk, espresso, and chocolate)! 

Or, trade your hot drink for wines produced in the region, like Barbera and Barolo.  

Torino is home to the original Eataly, and it’s housed in a former factory with plenty of room for its marketplace and restaurant.  During December, you’ll find a section with holiday gift baskets, an amazing selection of panettoni and pandori, and specialty foods and products that make perfect gifts.   

Florence In December

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is lit up with colorful lights as part of the F-light display that takes place in Florence, Italy in December.  The sky is grey and the lights are reflecting on the Arno River in the foreground.
The light displays on the Ponte Vecchio are beautiful!

December is chilly but you’ll feel like you have the city to yourself compared to other busier times of the year. 

Its high-end Via Tornabuoni is lit up in style and the light displays in Piazza della Repubblica are always worth a look.  Shops are putting more effort into window displays, with Rinascente taking the prize (not official – awarded by me) recently. 

Its world-famous museums (like the Uffizi and the Accademia) are uncrowded and pleasant to wander in and you can get a table at one of the city’s cafés for a delicious hot chocolate or other hot drink. 

Florence also has a light festival, which lights up monuments around the city based on an annual theme.  Our family’s favorite lit-up monument is the Ponte Vecchio – it’s gorgeous in the evening with the scenes projected onto the bridge and reflected in the Arno. 

See our posts
Best Things To Do In Florence + What To Skip
Where to Stay in Florence
Florence in December
Florence Winter Packing List

The nearby towns of Arezzo and Montepulciano have some of our favorite Christmas markets and Christmas villages. Read our Tips for Visiting the Montepulciano Christmas Market.

If you’d like to escape the city, head into the Tuscan countryside – some wineries open their doors to visitors during December. 

Tuscan countryside in December in Italy.  You can see part of a vineyard on the left (but there isn't anything growing) and a couple of cypress trees.  There are woods and the trees are yellow, green, and orange.  The sky is cloudy and grey.
A photo my son took of the Tuscan countryside

Honorable Mentions – Naples, Milan, Salerno, and Locorotondo

Naples In December – Naples is always full of life, and December is no exception. A must-do in Naples in December is a leisurely stroll down Via San Gregorio Armeno to check out the presepe (nativity scenes) by local artists.   Of course, you can’t visit Naples and not eat pizza. December is also a perfect time for a day trip to Pompeii or Herculaneum – without the heat and the crowds!

Milan In December – Milan has some of Italy’s best shopping. Check out Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Corso Buenos Aires, Via Della Spiga, and Via Monte Napoleone. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can stop and check out the holiday window displays. Take advantage of the low season to score tickets (often at great prices) to Milan’s many attractions and events – see an opera at La Scala or climb the Duomo. Milan is a quick train ride from Lake Como, which has a quiet festive atmosphere in December.

Salerno In December – Salerno is known all over Italy for having the country’s best holiday light displays.  The displays are part of the Luci d’Artista (Lights of the Artist), which also takes place in Torino and Pescara.  Salerno’s lights are Christmas-focused and draw visitors from around Italy and Europe.  Each year, the lights have a theme and artists create the installations at points throughout the city center.  Some installations are repeats, others come from Torino’s displays, and others are new.  Grab a slice of wood-fired pizza and join others as they wander from installation to installation in this southern Italian city. 

Locorotondo (& Puglia)Locorotondo and the whitewashed villages of Puglia are the perfect backdrops for holiday lights and presepe vivente (living nativity scenes).  Look for the region’s famous conical-roofed stone houses – trulli. Dine on some of Italy’s best seafood and try the olio nuovo (new oil, freshly-pressed in November), or get your sweet fix with purciduzzi, little fried dough balls coated in honey, and often decorated with sprinkles. Trani, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, and Alberobello are also worth visiting in December.

Destinations To Skip On A December Trip To Italy

Woman and child dressed warmly, playing on the beach in Italy in December.
My son having fun at the beach near Genoa on a cold winter day.
  • Amalfi Coast – mostly closed up; too cold for the beach
  • Cinque Terre – mostly closed up; too cold for the beach; poor weather for hiking
  • Beach Towns – mostly closed up; too cold for the beach
  • Small countryside villages (like Pienza, Montepulciano) – mostly closed up; accommodation can be cold and humid
  • Sardegna and coastal islands – small towns mostly closed up; ferries can be canceled due to poor conditions; too cold for the beach

Activities And Events In Italy In December

You won’t be able to sunbathe, but there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy on your trip to Italy in December:

  • Participate in winter sports – downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding.  The most well-known winter sports areas are Alta Badia, Arabba, Bardonecchia, Bormio, Cervinia, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Courmayeur, Livigno, Madonna di Campiglio, Monterosa, Passo Tonale, Plan de Corones, Sestriere, and Val Gardena.
  • You’ll find ice skating rinks in many major cities, like Florence. 
  • You can visit thermal baths and soak in the warm waters while the snow falls overhead.  Our favorites are Bagno Vignoni and Saturnia in Southern Tuscany and Merano in the Dolomites. 
  • Check out the holiday lights and light displays throughout Italy.  Some of the best are in Salerno, Torino, and Florence.
Light display in a piazza in Italy in December.  There are scenes projected onto the sides of the buildings and there is a shooting star made out of lights in the middle of the piazza.  There are a few people wandering around the piazza.
  • Participate in the Italian tradition of visiting a presepe (nativity scene), including presepe viventi, nativity scenes with real people! 

    Read more about Presepi – Italian Nativity Scenes!
  • Attend the Vatican City’s Christmas celebration.  See the Christmas tree and Nativity Scene in St. Peter’s Square.  Attend Christmas Eve midnight mass or the papal address and blessing.
A rainy night in St. Peter's Square in Rome, Italy in December.  The Christmas tree is tall and full of lights and you can see the nativity scene on the left.
  • Shop and snack at Italy’s Christmas Markets.  Our favorites are in Trentino-Alto Adige (Bolzano, Merano), but you’ll find them throughout the country.
Close up of ornaments for sale at a Christmas market in Italy in December.
  • Marvel at amazing art in Italy’s world-class museums.  You’ll find museums are much less crowded in December.  It’s a great time to see the Last Supper (Milan), the Vatican Museums (Rome), the Colosseum and Roman Forum (Rome), the Uffizi (Florence), the Accademia (Florence), or Pompeii. 
The Doni Tondo by Michelangelo, a painting depicting the holy family.  There is a large gilded frame around the painting of the holy family. It's in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery – it’s waiting for your visit!

What To Eat In Italy in December 

A scene of a village street in Italy in December.   There is a fruit stand on the right, twinkling lights hanging above the streets, and a few pedestrians walking at the far end of the street.  You can see a clear blue sky.

Seasonal Produce In Italy In December 

  • clementines
  • oranges
  • blood oranges
  • cabbage
  • radicchio 

Food Not To Miss In Italy In December 

panettoneMilantall cake with raisins and candied fruit pieces 
pandoroVeronatall, golden cake
ribollitaTuscanythick soup made with leftover bread and vegetables
pizzoccheriLombardybuckwheat pasta with cabbage, potatoes and cheese
cassoeulaLombardystew made with cabbage and pork 
polentaNorthern Italyboiled cornmeal, also good fried or grilled; delicious with mushrooms and taleggio cheese 
struffoliNapleslittle fried dough balls dipped in a honey sauce 
bicerinTorino drink made of milk, espresso and chocolate
gelatoItaly-widegelato – yes, it’s even good in the winter!

Read about Christmas Foods in Italy!

The Best Places To Visit in Italy In December With Kids 

You may want to read
Italy With Teens
Italy With a Baby or Toddler
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Things to Do in Italy with Kids


No matter the season, the Dolomites are a great family destination.  There are plenty of family-friendly hotels and kid-focused activities.  Take the cable car up to Alpe di Siusi for tobogganing, skiing or snowboarding (60km of slopes), snowshoeing, or ice skating.  

When you need a break from the snow, visit one of the picturesque towns and explore the holiday markets and light displays.

Val di Luce 

Two small children sledding down the side of a wide ski run in Italy in December.  The sun is sparkling in the sky and the ski run is bordered by tall pines.  You can see more snowy mountains in the background.
My boys sledding on the Val di Luce slopes

This ski resort is a family favorite of ours because it’s small and it makes a perfect day trip from Florence

If you do want to spend the night, the Val di Luce SPA Resort is just across the street from the slopes. It’s perfect if you have a baby or child who needs to nap.

Ski, snowboard, go sledding, or have a snowball fight! 

Good To Know: The last few years, there hasn’t been much snow in the area. If possible, save a visit for a day trip rather than planning multiple days (and risk showing up to no snow!). Or, make sure your hotel reservations have a good cancellation policy.


If you’re not interested in winter sports, Rome is an excellent option for families visiting Italy in December.  Ride the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus, take a family tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum, eat pizza and gelato, throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain, attend Gladiator School, explore Rome’s children’s museum, explore Villa Borghese, and be entertained in Piazza Navona.

Read more about
Things to Do in Rome with Kids
Villa Borghese with Kids


Take the chance to see Pompeii (or nearby Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius) without the huge crowds and blazing temperatures.

Learn more about a visit to Pompeii with Kids

What To Wear In Italy In December 

December in Italy won’t be fun if you don’t dress appropriately! 

The best advice I can give is to: 

  1. Dress like an onion – wear layers. 
  2. Wear breathable clothing. 
  3. Wear warm shoes with tread. 
  4. Dress appropriately for the activity.  If you’re skiing, bring your ski gear.  You can buy anything you need here, but you should bring broken in shoes or boots if you can.  No one wants a blister while on vacation! 

Suggested Modes Of Transport For Italy in December 


Traveling by car gives you the most freedom, but can be pricey by the time you add up the rental cost, gas, tolls, and parking.  Luckily, rental car demand in December is low, so you’ll be able to find the vehicle you want at a competitive price.

Make sure you have chains in your car or special winter tires suitable for driving on snow or ice.  They are required by law on many Italian roads from November 15th through April 15th.  On parts of the A1 Autostrada, you’ll need them from November 1st.   

If you’re driving in Northern Italy, be prepared for snow on roads and possible closures.

Traffic delays are possible at the beginning and end of the school break (around the 23rd of December to just after the Befana on January 6th).   

Read all about Driving in Italy


If you don’t want to risk driving in icy or snowy conditions or you’re traveling long distances, investigate flying.  Route schedules are more limited in December and winter months, but travel between larger cities is possible and simple.


It may not always be the fastest way and it may not get you from door-to-door, but taking a train is a beautiful way to travel around Italy in the winter.   

If you decide to travel by train right around the Christmas holiday, be sure to book your train tickets in advance.

Read more about Train Travel in Italy.

Italy In December Vocabulary

ItalianPronunciationEnglish translation
panettone panettone
pandoro pandoro
cioccolata calda hot chocolate
la vigilia di Natale Christmas Eve
albero di Natale Christmas tree
presepe nativity scene
luci di Natale Christmas lights
neve snow
sciare to ski
mercato market
Babbo Natale Father Christmas/Santa Claus
Buon Natale Merry Christmas
Buon Capodanno Happy New Year

What Do Italians Do In December? 

Head to the Mountains 

Italians love winter sports!  Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are all popular throughout Italy.   

There are ski resorts all over the country, and Italians flock to them in December.  The Dolomites and Val d’Aosta host the most well-known, but you can also participate in winter sports in most northern and central Italian regions. 

Enjoy the Winter Atmosphere In The Big Cities 

Scene of Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy in December.  Tall Christmas tree with lights on the left, the carousel with lights in the center, and to the right, the Rinascente building, covered in rainbow lights.  There are people in the piazza.  It's night and the sky is black.

Italians living in the countryside or outside the city often head to the city center during December, especially on the weekends. 

The cooler temperatures, decorated storefronts, sparkling lights, and street food vendors make for a wonderful atmosphere.   

Visit Family or Friends for Christmas 

The Italians have a famous saying, “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi.” It means that you should spend Christmas with your family, and Easter with whoever you want. 

There’s usually an exodus of folks who work in the north traveling back to their families in the south.   

Take An International Trip 

Italians love to travel and explore the world, and you’ll find them traveling during December to warmer destinations (like the Maldives or Canary Islands) or other European cities (like London, Paris, or Stockholm). 

December in Italy FAQ 

Does it snow in Florence in December?

Occasionally, Florence will see snow in December, but it’s not common. 

What does your family do during the December holidays?

Here’s what our family usually* does:
December 8 (Festa della Concezione Immacolata) – We’re usually at home.  We don’t decorate our Christmas tree today because we put ours up at the end of November.
December 24 (La Vigilia di Natale) – We spend the evening with our Swedish family in Florence.
December 25 (Natale) – We celebrate at home.  We open presents after breakfast, gather with extended family (usually outside) in the afternoon, and have lasagne for dinner.
December 26 (Santo Stefano) – We spend a relaxing day at home.
December 31 (La Vigilia di Capodanno) – Pre-kids, we would celebrate New Year’s eve with friends at a restaurant in Florence.  With three children, my husband and I stay home, and try to stay up to watch the midnight fireworks from our terrace.
*Last year I spent the last part of December and beginning of January in Sicily with my boys and my dad.

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