Let’s continue our Italy through the year series. Next up, Italy in August – weather info, where to go, plus festival info!
Ok, let’s be honest. August is probably the worst month of the year to visit Italy. This is the month when Italians traditionally take their holiday, so you’ll find two types of scenario all over the country – empty cities, and super busy holiday destinations.
Beaches are packed, to the extent that in some cases you may have to wake up at the crack of dawn to find a place to lay your towel. Parking is a nightmare everywhere, and mountain trails are also full of people.
If you are looking for peace and quiet, don’t visit Italy in August!
Naturally, this also means that prices are at their highest – for accommodation, trains, flights, car rentals, tours, pretty much anything. This is especially true during the two central weeks of August, the most popular time for holidays, and prices are usually a little cheaper the first and last week of the month.
Big cities like Milan, Rome and Florence will be quiet – most locals leave, so you’ll mostly be surrounded by other tourists. On top of that, many shops, restaurants, and attractions will be closed. So no, it’s not a good time to visit if you ask me!
However, if visiting Italy in August is your only option, read on. We’ve included 7 places to see, weather and festival info. Some of these places are (relatively) offbeat, others will be busy – but really, it’s very hard to escape the crowds in August!
Weather in August in Italy
August is prime summertime in Italy, so the weather will be (mostly) nice from north to south. During the second half of the month, rain showers and cold spells may become a little more frequent as autumn starts knocking on the door – but in terms of weather, it’s a very good time to visit.
What we said about July is also true in August – cities tend to be warmer. The best places to escape the heat are the countryside and the mountains, especially over 1000 meters above sea level. On the coast, the heat is usually more bearable.
To give you an idea, daytime highs are usually between 25 (if you are lucky) and 30°C, dropping to 18/20°C at night at lower altitudes, and around 10/15°C or lower up high.
There may be heatwaves just like in June and July, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before planning your daily activities – and spend the hottest part of the day napping or relaxing, just like the Italians do!
Where to Go in August in Italy
1) Inland Liguria
Liguria is a very, very popular coastal region, extending from the French border to Tuscany. In terms of coastline, it’s a very busy place – after all, that’s where popular locations like Cinque Terre, Rapallo, and Sanremo are located.
What most people don’t know is that the entroterra, the ‘inland’ part of Liguria, is also an amazing place to visit – and it remains relatively offbeat even in August, when most people are relaxing on the coast.
Valle Argentina is home to Triora, a quirky mountain village that was once home to ‘witches’, in Val d’Aveto you can still see some of the last wild horses in Italy, and Val di Vara is one of the best-kept secrets in Italy according to my friend Ale – and that should be reason enough to visit!
Let’s talk mountains! I’ve already said that mountains are a popular holiday choice for Italians in August – with most people heading to either Trentino, Alto Adige/South Tyrol, or Valle d’Aosta.
Piedmont is also home to some beautiful, offbeat mountain valleys. An example is Val Grande, one of the last ‘wild’ places in Italy.
In the entire valley there’s little or no phone reception, no major roads, and only one village home to about 20 souls. A Val Grande hike is the perfect way to disconnect – but if you are not an experienced hiker, we recommend going with a guide!
Two other great places are Alpe Devero and Val Formazza. These are wonderful year-round, and shouldn’t be too busy in August!
Another one for mountain lovers! Valtellina is an Alpine valley located in the northern part of Lombardia, running east/west following the course of the river Adda – instead of north/south like most valleys.
Since Milan and its surroundings do get very hot, Valtellina is a good place to escape for a few days. My top choice is Bormio, a popular spa destination ever since the times of the Romans – now you can stay in two wonderful spa hotels, Bagni Vecchi and Bagni Nuovi, in between hikes.
There’s a 115 km cycle path running the length of Valtellina, from Colico on the top of Lake Como to Bormio, where you can tackle the legendary Stelvio Pass if you fancy more cycling. We’ll be cycling Sentiero Valtellina next August, so I’ll let you know how it goes!
4) Po Delta
The Po Delta is another wild, offbeat part of Italy shared between the regions of Veneto and Emilia-Romagna.
This is where Italy’s largest river meets the Adriatic Sea, and splits into lots of small rivers and canals, creating islets and swampland. It’s a great area to explore if you like wildlife – you can see wild horses, different bird species including flamingoes, deer, turtles, and more.
It’s a great area to visit for a day trip or longer – have a look at our Po Delta post to know more. It’s also a nice place to cycle around, since it’s very quiet and almost entirely flat. Comacchio is a good base, one of the prettiest small towns in Emilia Romagna!
The little region of Molise is located in between Abruzzo and Puglia, and it’s so offbeat and undiscovered – even by Italians – that it’s been nicknamed ‘Molisn’t’.
The truth is that Molise is one of the last surviving pockets of authenticity in Italy. There are 35 km of coast – Termoli is the best-known beach resort, surrounded by a stretch of coast known for its trabocchi, fixed fishing machines still regularly used.
From Termoli, you can also take a day trip to the Tremiti Islands, which technically are located in Puglia.
There is also a lot to discover in the interior of Molise – timeless villages still connected by tratturi, ancient shepherding paths, and the Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo Nature Reserve, UNESCO-listed and one of Italy’s eight biosphere reserves.
6) Sicilian Islands
I can’t write an Italy in August post without mentioning beach destinations. Now, I’ve already told you about Sicily, and about Lampedusa – but did you know that there are about 15 other small islands off the coast of Sicily?
The 7 Aeolian Islands are located off the northern coast – the best known are probably Stromboli and Vulcano, where you can hike on active volcanoes, but all the islands are different and unique in their own way.
Off the western coast you’ll find the 3 Egadi islands – Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo, ideal to visit if you are looking for crystalline seas and beautiful beaches. Favignana is the easiest to reach, so it more than likely will be busy, but the other two should be pleasant to visit in August.
There are two more remote islands worth mentioning – Pantelleria, volcanic in origin and full of beautiful coves and hiking opportunities, and Ustica, the least-visited Sicilian island, a place I hope to visit very soon!
Well, I can’t end a post about Italy in August without mentioning Sardinia, because it’s my favourite place to be in Italy in summer. Be warned, however, that Sardinia is very popular, so avoid the busy northern coast!
I especially love Carloforte and the rest of Isola di San Pietro, a little island off the southwestern coast, and the entire southern coast – Costa Rei, Chia and Teulada are all close to spectacular beaches.
Another option is Asinara Island, once home to a maximum-security prison, and now a protected nature reserve. Spend the night to make the most of it!
August Events and Festivals in Italy
This is the reason why August is prime holiday time in Italy! Most businesses close in occasion of Ferragosto, a festivity dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, falling on August 15th.
This is the day when literally EVERYTHING closes in cities, while in holiday destination there are usually special events – outdoor concerts, street parties, parades, fireworks, you name it.
It’s also popular to have barbecues or picnics on the beach, but before planning something similar make sure it’s allowed to do so where you are!
Palio di Siena
So, you missed the Palio happening in July, but you are in luck – the famous Siena horse race also takes place on August 16th!
The race is on a course around Piazza del Campo, the famous shell-shaped square in the heart of the city. 10 horses challenge each other, representing the city’s contrade (neighbourhoods).
The Palio tradition and sense of belongingness to a contrada is very strong, so it’s a special time to be in town. Don’t miss it!
Notte della Taranta
Are you going to visit Puglia in August? Check the calendar of Notte della Taranta, a festival focusing on pizzica, traditional music from southern Puglia.
There are smaller concerts and events all month long, plus a final festival night in Melpignano at the end of August, which usually attracts huge crowds.
Giostra della Quintana
You’ll find several Medieval-inspired festivals all over Central Italy in August, and one of the most unique ones is definitely the Giostra della Quintana, a jousting tournament taking place in Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region.
The roots of the event are said to date back to the 9th century, when Moors invaded the area. This is why the target of the jousting competition is a Moor bust – knights on horseback are supposed to hit the bust as quickly and precisely as possible, while galloping on a figure-8 track at full speed.
Besides the main jousting event, there is also a historic parade with people in medieval costume and other medieval-inspired events – a great August festival for history lovers!
Looking for more month-by-month Italy guides? There you are!