December is a fantastic month to visit Italy, with something sure to get you in the holiday spirit on offer at popular destinations across the country, whether you’re in search of art & culture, winter sports, or festive food.
Although December is winter in Italy, unless you’re heading up into the mountains, the climate is relatively mild. You will need a warm coat, scarf, and gloves, and should prepare for the odd rainy day, but will probably also experience the occasional afternoon of warm sunshine. Temperatures vary from north to south, with daytime highs of 50F and nighttime lows of 35F in northerly Milan, and daytime highs of 60F and nighttime lows of 50F in Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

Italy’s festive season starts with a national holiday on December 8th and runs until after the Epiphany on January 6th. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, December 26th (St Stephen’s Day), New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will all see certain museums and attractions closed, as well as some bars and restaurants. We recommend planning ahead and booking in advance where necessary over that period.
Here are our top five destinations in Italy in December.


Florence, or Firenze as the locals call it, gets very busy in summer. Although the temperatures will be cooler (around 50F during the day), take advantage of this quiet time to visit the supreme art city’s big museums, such as the Uffizi and the Accademia. Florence boasts a vibrant arts scene and a number of theaters, such as the Teatro Niccolini, the city’s oldest, and the brand-new, huge, modern Opera di Firenze, open since 2012. Florence’s biggest Christmas market comes to Piazza Santa Croce every December, with gifts and delicious delicacies sold by stallholders from across Europe. Florence’s traditional hearty cuisine of thick soups and large cuts of meat also lends itself well to December dining.


Home to the Vatican, the center of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eternal City is the perfect spot to soak up the traditions and celebrations of this very special time of year. With a little advanced planning, you may be able to attend Pope Francis’s Midnight Mass celebration outside St Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve or his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” address on Christmas Day.

Away from the religious celebrations, Rome’s Piazza Navona plays host to one of the country’s largest Christmas markets, attended by vendors from all over the country selling ornaments, toys, games, and other gifts.


Often uncomfortably crowded with tourists in the summer months, Venice is often at its best in winter. It will be misty and foggy, especially first thing in the morning, but this only adds to the floating city’s magical atmosphere and makes the perfect excuse to retreat to a cozy bacaro or wine bar.

As things wind down for the Christmas holidays, this romantic city twinkles with Christmas lights that beckon visitors out to stroll along its quiet streets or indulge in some designer window-shopping.


If you’re keen to combine a ski trip with some festive flavor this December then Italy’s stunning UNESCO listed Dolomites Mountains are hard to beat. The area’s Dolomiti Superski ski field boasts an incredible 750 miles of prepared pistes and offers resorts from the biggest and best-equipped to more traditional authentic spots with that authentic alpine village feel.

The region’s strong Germanic influence also means that many of the local towns host Christmas markets, with some of the best on offer in Bolzano and Merano.


Plenty of the best things about the Piedmont region come into their own in the winter. The city of Turin is known for its cafés, many of which offer the indulgent drink known as bicerin—a combination of coffee, hot chocolate, and cream that is perfect when the temperature drops. Turin also stages a number of impressive Christmas markets, including the largest in Piazza Borgo Dora. Streets across Torino are lit up every fall and winter by the Luci d’Artista festival that invites artists to design installations to illuminate the streets. Piedmont is also known for its truffle and wine areas—according to the experts, truffles taste even better in colder temperatures! Wine and artisan food producers tend to be quieter in December so should have more time during your visit. Restaurant reservations are also easier to come by.