Home » Traveling In Italy » Italy In January – Your 2022 Complete Guide

Italy In January – Your 2022 Complete Guide

It’s the heart of winter in Italy, and it’s cold, wet, and the skies and generally grey.  But, if you can handle the weather, Italy in January is a perfect time if you’re looking for lower prices and fewer crowds.  It’s also the best month (along with February) to head to Italy’s incredible ski resorts. 

While there are some advantages to traveling in Italy in January (more on that below), if you’re able to, visit Italy in December, a more festive month.

Note – While there are far fewer crowds than most other months of the year, know that the Christmas holiday ‘high season’ in Italy runs through January 6th.  The rest of the month is considered low season.

In this article, you’ll learn…

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

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

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:

Should You Visit Italy in January? 

Winter probably isn’t what comes to 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.   

While I recommend visiting Italy in the spring or autumn, I’ve had family, friends, and clients visit Italy in January and if you research and plan out your activities and dress appropriately, it can be a worthwhile 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 October

Italy in November
Italy in December

Let’s go into a little more detail: 

6 Reasons You Should Visit Italy in January 

Woman walking in Florence, Italy in the evening.  There is one other person in the piazza, near the Uffizi Gallery.
  1. The crowds are gone!  You can travel in cities like Rome and Florence and feel like a local!  The tourists that are around are usually from other parts of Italy or Europe. 
  2. It’s saldi (sale) time in Italy – the best shopping discounts of the year (along with July saldi).
  3. You can feel what it’s like to live like a local in popular destinations.
  4. It’s the perfect time to visit some of Europe’s best ski resorts.
  5. You can have flexible travel plans.
  6. Depending on where you travel, January can be the least expensive time to visit Italy.  It’s low season outside of the ski resorts, so you’ll find great deals on hotels and airfare. 

Note – 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:

  • The Last Supper (Milan)
  • The Vatican Museums (Rome)
  • The Colosseum (Rome)
  • The Uffizi Gallery (Florence)
  • The Accademia and Galleries (Florence)

6 Reasons You May Not Want To Visit Italy in January 

  1. Have I mentioned, it’s cold, dreary, and sometimes rainy?
  2. 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 January 1st.
  3. You won’t be able to swim, hike or participate in other warm-weather activities.   
  4. It’s very cold and often rainy. Sicily is warmer but not enough for the beach.  
  5. 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.  It’s also high holiday season in many cities until after the Epiphany on January 6th.
  6. There is less sunlight (9 hours per day, versus 15 hours per day in June). 

Weather in Italy in January 

January is the coldest month of the year in Italy, although the temperatures vary quite a bit, depending on where you are.

Infographic with black silhouette map of Italy and average weather in January in Italy.

Northern Italy is very cold and sees snow at higher elevations.  Temperatures hover around the 0 Celsius degree mark (32 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Central Italy also tends to have cold winters and can see snow.  Temperatures are usually around 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Southern Italy is the warmest part of the country in January, but it’s not sunbathing weather!  Temperatures tend to hover around 13 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit).  The south tends to see more sunshine than other parts of the country during January, and more rain than other times of the year.

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

Don’t rely on historical weather data. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave! 

Infographic showing black silhouette of map of Italy with weather info for six main cities in Italy in January.
CityHighLowPrecipitationNotes
Milan44°F / 7°C32°F / 0°C11.1mmcoldest month
Venice46°F / 8°C32°F / 0°C8.2mmcoldest month, along with December
Florence52°F / 11°C37°F / 3°C23.6mmcoldest month
Rome54°F / 12°C37°F / 3°C19.6mmcoldest month
Naples57°F / 14°C41°F / 5°C33.8mmcoldest month, along with February
Palermo59°F / 15°C49°F / 10°C48.5mm
Average temperatures and precipitation source: timeanddate.com

Holidays in Italy in January

Infographic with the 5 major holidays in Italy in January.

After a busy December full of holidays, January seems quiet!

Know that 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 January and will require more advance bookings for museums and reservations for restaurants.  For example, Rome can be busy until the Epiphany (January 6th) with international visitors in town for the Vatican City’s Christmas celebrations.  This means more restaurants will be open, but you’ll need to reserve.  Small towns will be empty and restaurants are more likely to take walk-ins (if they are open – always check!).

Learn more about
Where to Spend Christmas in Italy
12 Italian Christmas Traditions We Still Celebrate

January 1st – Capodanno

Two children and a woman pushing a stroller walk away from the camera on a gravel road in Tuscany, Italy in January.  There are vineyards on both sides of the road, the sky is blue with whispy clouds, and you can see vineyards and forest ahead in the distance.  The colors of the forest and vineyards are gold, orange, and green.

January 6th L’Epifania

January 7th  La Festa del Tricolore

January 17th – La Festa di Sant’Antonio Abate

January 27th Il Giorno della Memoria

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.

The Italian school holiday break usually ends 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 after the Ephiphany.

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 6 Best Places in Italy to Visit in January  

Infographic with black silhouette map of Italy and the 6 best places to visit in Italy in January - Milan, the Dolomites, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Sicily.
LocationWhat To Do
Dolomites (ski areas)ski Italy’s best slopes 
Romevisit the city’s famous monuments without the crowds
Florencehave hot chocolate or aperitivo at a café, wander the streets
Venicelive like a local in this quiet time of year
Sicilyvisit the island’s archaeological sites without breaking a sweat
Milanshop ’til you drop during the January saldi (sales), explore the Brera district
Honorable Mention – Torinocatch the tail end of the Luci d’Artista light displays
Honorable Mention – Bolzano (city in the Dolomites)shop the saldi, see the Ice Man
Honorable Mention – Tuscany countryside soak in thermal baths
Honorable Mention – Naplesexplore the city’s famous street of presepe (Nativity scene) artisans 

Dolomites (ski areas) In January

Alpe di Siusi covered in snow in the Dolomites in Italy in January.  It's a sunny day and you can see Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto peaks in the background.  There are pine trees and a few buildings in the distance.

Get the Dolomites Superski pass and have a blast on its 1200 kilometers of ski slopes and 450 lifts.

There are excellent alternative activities for non-skiers:

  • visit a spa
  • go snow-shoeing
  • enjoy people-watching and shopping in Cortina
  • take advantage of the region’s excellent dining options
  • ride a gondolas up to eat in a mountain huts
  • have hot chocolate in a cozy hotel while you read and relax
  • check out the Messner Mountain Museum

Rome In January

January in Rome is chilly but if you dress appropriately, it can be a pleasant time to visit.  After the first week of January, the Christmas crowds will be gone, and you’ll be able to visit the city’s famous monuments without having to elbow your way past everyone. 

You won’t be able to sit in outdoor cafes (too cold) – you’ll want to dine and have coffee indoors. 

Rome is an excellent destination for shopping and January is one of the best months for sales (the other being July).

Florence In January

Florence, Italy

It’s not my favorite month to visit Florence, because the combination of cold temperatures and humidity can be too much for me. 

But, if you can handle the weather (heavy coat, hat, and warm shoes or boots), you’ll have the city’s world-class museums and shops at your fingertips. 

If you’re interested in shopping, head away from the busy streets in the center which are slowly being taken over by global brands.  Local shops have great deals during the saldi (sales). 

Historic cafés (like Caffé Gilli in Piazza della Repubblica) set up warm outdoor areas which are perfect for a quick coffee and break or for passing an entire afternoon with a good book. 

If you need to warm up a bit, get your heart pumping on the climb up the hill that leads to Piazzale Michelangelo and its view of the city.

See our posts on the Best Things To Do In Florence + What To Skip and Where to Stay in Florence!

Venice in January

Woman and child standing in front of Venice Santa Lucia train station in January in Italy.  It's a sunny day, there are a few people walking around with suitcases and some people in the background are waiting in line for the vaporetto.

If you don’t mind the cold (and it’s the kind of cold that gets into your bones!), January can be a great time to visit. 

Hotels are less expensive and it’s easy to wander into a restaurant without advance booking.

Stay for a few days and really soak up what life in Venice is all about – go for walks along the canal, take evening rides on the vaporetti, and sample the city’s cicchetti (tapas-like dishes).

Venice has excellent shops – not just glass products and Carnevale masks.  You’ll find beautiful leather goods, housewares, and clothing.  And January saldi (sales) will be running!

You don’t need to worry about acqua alta (high water) like you would have in the past.  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 a high tide is forecast – and if the forecast is wrong, they may not be raised in time.  At this point, there’s nothing to worry about – if an acqua alta is forecast, MOSE will be activated.  If acqua alta arrives, it means the high tide wasn’t forecasted, so you wouldn’t have been able to plan anyway!

Sicily In January

If you can give up the idea of a Sicilian beach vacation, January can be one of the best times to visit. 

I’ve spent many January days in Sicily in winter coats, but find that the weather is usually mild in Sicily in January.

You can visit monuments and villages without crowds.  Palermo, Siracusa, and Taormina are my top picks for a Sicilian trip in January.

Note – It’s not a good time to visit the Aeolian Islands, off the north coast of Sicily.  Most shops, restaurants and hotels are closed for the winter, and the ferries are prone to delays and cancelations due to inclement weather.

Milan In January

If you’re looking for excellent shopping, spend time in January in Milan during the saldi (sales). Milan has a range of stores, from luxury Italian labels to trendy local designers.

You can also visit museums with fewer crowds and check out Milan’s cultural scene. Head to La Scala theater for opera, ballet, theater, and the symphony.

Honorable Mentions – Torino, Bolzano, Tuscany Countryside, & Naples In January

Scene of olive grove in January.  Green grass on the ground, clouds in the sky.  You can see buildings in the distant background.

Destinations To Skip On A January Trip To Italy

Small village in Italy in January.  There is a 'chiuso,' closed sign hanging from an archway in the center of the photo.  A road with large cobblestones leads slightly uphill and through the archway.  There are brick buildings on both sides of the road.  There is a small store on the right.
  • Small countryside villages – mostly closed up (Pienza, Montepulciano, etc)
  • Sardegna and coastal islands – small towns mostly closed up; ferries can be canceled due to poor conditions; too cold for the beach
  • Amalfi Coast – mostly closed up, no chance for beach time, rainy weather creates slippery trails and mudslides
  • Cinque Terre – mostly closed up, no chance for beach time, rainy weather creates slippery trails and mudslides
  • Small beach towns – mostly closed up, too cold for the beach
  • Lake Como and other Italian Lakes – boat rides are very cold, towns are mostly closed up, hiking trails can be slippery from rain

Activities And Events In Italy In January

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

Go skiing. There are places to ski from the north to south of country – you can even ski on Mt. Etna in Sicily.  Or, try other winter sports like snowboarding, snowshoeing, and 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.

Soak in thermal baths – Bormio, Merano, Bagno Vignoni, and Saturnia are a few to check out.

Saturnia hot springs in Italy in January.  The sky is blue, the terraced thermal baths are steaming.  There is a building on the left.  Text in the upper right contains a quote by Sylvia Plath: There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.

Go shopping – saldi run from January to early or mid-February. The prices get better as time goes on, but the selection gets smaller and smaller.  If you see something you love, buy it then.

Marvel at amazing art in Italy’s world-class museums.  You’ll find fewer crowds in January.  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.

Michelangelo's David statue in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Attend a performance at La Scala in Milan.

Sample Italian wines at a wine bar or visit a winery. While most wineries aren’t open for drop-ins, some open for winter visitsCheers!

Go on a food tour or visit a factory to see the production of parmigiano or balsamic vinegar.

Close up of wheels of parmesan cheese in a factory.  In upper left, a small photo of a slice of parmesan and a towel is inset and the text 'parmigiano reggiano' is in the upper left.

Visit the Museum of the Carnival of Viareggio to learn about the upcoming February Carnival and possibly get a glance at some of the floats being made.

Attend a concert or sporting event.

Otherwise, settle in at a wine bar and sample the regional wines!

Street signs in Greve in Chianti, Italy.  One is white with an arrow pointing toward Wine Lovers Academy.  The other is black and points toward Enoteca Falorni and has a photo of a wine glass and a cask.

What To Eat In Italy in January 

Not-To-Miss Produce In Italy In January 

Crate of persimmons leaning against a stone wall with a cardboard sign behind them.  The sign reads, 'si regalano pomi, senza cassetta,' which means, free persimmons, without the crate.
Free persimmons!
  • persimmons – cachi
  • apples – mele
  • oranges – arance
  • blood oranges – arance rosse
  • clementines – clementine
  • artichokes – carciofi
  • Tardivo chicory – radicchio tardivo
  • pomagranates – melograni

Food Not To Miss In Italy In January 

Dish/ItemAreaDescription
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 
bicerinTorino drink made of milk, espresso and chocolate
castagneItaly-widechestnuts, especially roasted
gelatoItaly-widegelato – yes, it’s even good in the winter!

The Best Places To Visit in Italy In January With Kids 

You may want to read our posts on traveling to Italy With Teens and Italy With a Baby or Toddler!

To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend a visit in January with kids. But, with school breaks, it may be your only option.  If so, choose one of the below destinations for your family’s visit to Italy in January.  And, no matter where you end up, teach your kids all about La Befana.

The Dolomites With Kids In January

The Dolomites is the best place to visit in January with kids, even if they don’t ski or snowboard.  You can still sled, play in the snow, and visit the kid-friendly snow parks.  The Dolomites have an incredible selection of family-friendly hotels, and some of them are dedicated to children (like Cavallino Bianco in Ortisei). 

All ages will enjoy taking 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. We frequently Bolzano and its Museum of Archaeology, home to Ötzi the Iceman.

Check out our posts
Bolzano with Kids
Alpe di Siusi with Kids

Ortisei with Kids

Rome With Kids In January

If you’re not interested in winter sports, Rome is your best option for visiting Italy in January with kids.  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, and be entertained in Piazza Navona.

Venice With Kids In January

Small child in red coat reaching to touch flag on boat on Grand Canal in Venice, Italy in January.  You can see the water, buildings on the right, and another boat ahead.

Venice makes a nice one or two-night stop on a trip to Italy in January as a family. It’s really cold, but kids will love traveling the canals on the little vaporetti (water buses), seeing a glass-blowing demo on Murano island, dining on tapas-style cicchetti, and getting lost on the small side streets.

Florence With Kids In January

Family walking on Via Tornabuoni in Florence, Italy in January.  There are holiday lights sparkling in the background, hanging from between the tall buildings.  It's evening, the shops are open, and there are people wandering on the pedestrian street.

Like Venice, Florence is best for a quick visit with kids during the cold month of January. Stay warm inside the museums – get a guide to make them kid-friendly (and read about visiting the Accademia with kids!).  Visit La Specola, Florence’s quirky Natural History museum (temporarily closed), climb a tower, and see what’s on at Palazzo Strozzi – the exhibits are often kid-friendly.

Milan With Kids In January

While the cold and rainy weather will keep your kids away from the playgrounds, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to keep them (and you!) happy. Some favorites include exploring the science museum, visiting the planetarium, and touring the soccer stadium.  Warm up your body with a climb to the top of the Duomo.

Read more about Visiting Milan with Kids!

What To Wear In Italy In January 

January in Italy won’t be enjoyable if you don’t dress appropriately! 

It’s important to: 

  1. Dress like an onion – wear layers. 
  2. Wear breathable clothing. 
  3. Wear a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  4. Wear warm shoes with tread – cobblestones can be slick! 
  5. 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! 

Good To Know – You’ll see Italians in scarves everywhere you look (and not just in the winter). They’re trying to prevent a colpa d’aria (a ‘hit of air’), which could make them sick.

Suggested Modes Of Transport For Italy in January 

Car

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 January is low, so you’ll be able to find the vehicle you want at a competitive price.

Need to rent a car? I recommend checking out consolidators like DiscoverCars.com and AutoEurope.com for a round-up of the best deals from Italy’s principal rental car companies.

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 end of the school holiday break (just after the Befana on January 6th).   

Plane 

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 January and winter months, but travel between larger cities is possible and simple.

Train 

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 during the first week of January, be sure to book your train tickets in advance.

Italy In January Vocabulary

ItalianPronunciationEnglish translation
Buon Anno! Happy New Year!
La Befana old witch (from legend)
cioccolata calda hot chocolate
freddo cold
neve snow
sciare to ski
presepe nativity scene
vacanza vacation
saldi sales (shopping)
quanto costa? how much does it cost?

What Do Italians Do In January? 

After a December full of festivities, family, food, and fun, Italians head back to work on January 2nd and children go back to school after the Epiphany (January 6th).

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 on weekends in January.  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 

Building lit up with red and white lights in Italy in January.  People walking in the piazza.  There is a cafe on the right.  It's nighttime.

Even though Christmas is over, Italy doesn’t officially wrap up the festivities until the 6th of January (the Epiphany).

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

FAQ