Italy in August – The Best Things to See & Do
If you can handle the heat, August is a great time to visit Italy. The beaches are alive with locals who are trying to beat the heat of the cities, making for less crowds. In fact, August is notorious for having less hustle and bustle and cheaper prices. So, if you’re looking to take your money further and have more space as you wander the museums and sites, this month is perfect. If you’re planning a trip to Italy in August, here are some of the best things to see and do.
ITALY WEATHER IN AUGUST
If you’re visiting Italy in August, expect high levels of heat and humidity. It’s the country’s hottest month, which is why many Italians leave home in the cities and head north or to the coastline. While it will be hot no matter where you go, the beaches and northern regions are slightly cooler. The averages temperatures are as follows:
- Northern Italy: 65-85°F (18-30°C)
- Central Italy: 70-90°F (21-32°C)
- Southern Italy: 80-90°F (26-32°C)
Keep the weather in mind when packing for your trip so you have clothes that will be comfortable.
FESTIVALS/EVENTS IN ITALY IN AUGUST
Located in the town of Felire in Italy’s Veneto region, this medieval festival takes place during the first weekend in August. Visitors can watch the parade, see participants in time-period costumes, and watch a traditional archery competition.
Festa dei Candelieri
This festival is all about celebrating candles! It takes place in Sassari, Sardinia between August 14th and 15th and has been going on since the 16th century. The main event features teams of men who race through the streets holding large and heavy candles. Visitors can also find plenty of food, music, and drink before, during, and after the main event.
Located in Ascoli Piceno, in Italy’s Le Marche region, this traditional jousting tournament happens each year. The festivities happen on the first Sunday of August, and the festival as a whole is considered one of the best medieval festivals in the entire area. Before the jousting begins, visitors will get to see a parade of locals dressed in 15th century costume for the kickoff parade.
MUSIC AND FILM FESTIVALS
Italy is sprinkled with music and art festivals going on all summer long. Make sure to check out the Estate Romana, which is an arts and music festival taking place in Rome throughout the summer. There’s the Verona Summer Opera series, offering performances in various places around the city during the summer. Check out the Venice International Film Festival which starts in late August, and Estate Firenze that dots Florence with musical performances all summer.
Palio del Golfo
Located off the promenade in La Spezia, this traditional rowing race takes place on the first Sunday in August. The 13 maritime villages around the Bay of La Spezia compete in this historic race. While it’s not the biggest of festivals, it’s certainly a chance to experience real, Italian culture at its finest.
Giostra di Simone
Located in the Tuscan town of Montisi, this festival takes place on the Sunday closest to August 5th. The event is made up of medieval games, including a tournament of knight battles. Visitors will be treated to a parade of locals dressed in traditional costumes, as well as music and food.
Palio of Siena
This is the second half of the famous horse race that takes place Sienna each year. The first half happens in July while the second half commences on August 16th. The race features 17 local districts of Siena who race on horseback around the central piazza. Each year, the winner of the race receives a silk banner. Make sure to book hotels early if you plan on attending as Siena gets quite crowded.
Festa della Madonna della Neve
This festival celebrates the strange and unusual summer snowfall that took place in Rome during the 4th century. The snowfall prompted the building of one of Rome’s most important churches, Santa Maria Maggiore Church, so it’s celebrated each year in the city.
Also called Assumption Day, this holiday takes place on August 15th and signifies the beginning of vacation for Italians. As people leave the big cities for the beaches, expect many shops and restaurants to close up, especially between the 15th and the 1st of September. If you happen to be in one of the big cities like Milan or Rome on this day, expect large celebrations with food, fireworks, and live music. The days leading up to the 15th, as well as the days after will typically feature festivities around the country as well.
La Fuga del Bove
Located in the Tuscany town of Montefalco, this festival can be attended over a period of three weeks. It heavily focuses on history and features locals dressed in traditional costumes. Visitors will find lots of drinking, eating, live music, and historic competitions.
WHAT TO SEE/DO IN ITALY IN AUGUST
From top to bottom there are a ton of things to do and see when visiting Italy. However, due to the August heat, you may want to choose more indoor activities as well as take some time up north where the weather is slightly cooler.
Spend an afternoon in the air conditioning as you wander around the museums of Vatican City. Over the years, the Pope have collected various works of art, which are now on display for visitors to see. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, Gallery of Maps, and the various sculpture museums.
A Cooking Class
Italy is notorious for its cuisine, which means you’ll have the opportunity to not only eat, but also learn how to cook. One of the top places to learn how to make classic Italian dishes is in Tuscany. Book a private, group, or couples class and learn how to make pasta, ravioli, sauce, and other Italian favorites. You may be cooking away over a hot stove but at least you’ll be indoors.
Visit The Florence Museums
While many things in the cities are closed during August, you can expect the Florence museums to be open. Forget all about the hot, summer sun and enjoy the art and culture of Florence from inside. Start off at the Accademia Gallery where you can see the world famous statue of David by Michelangelo. Wander around the Uffizi Gallery to see works by renowned artists, many of which were done by Michelangelo. There’s the Palatine Gallery, Bargello, Museo Galileo, Palazzo Pitti, and Palazzo Publico, all featuring wonderful works of art as well.
See The Sunflowers in Tuscany
Tuscany is a region of Italy known for its intense natural beauty. This is amplified from June to August when fields of sunflowers come into bloom. The area is alight with color, making it perfect for an impromptu photo shoot on the side of the road. Rent a car and take a summer road trip to see these beauties for yourself. Many can be seen from the main highway but it’s the backroads that offer the best views.
Sure, Venice is hot in August, but it’s a city that you just can’t miss. The best thing to do in Venice is wander on foot and get lost amongst the alleyways and tiny canals. You’ll probably find some intriguing art installations, hidden cafes, cute gelato shops, and a friendly stray cat here and there. Try out a gondola ride, have a drink at a canal-side cafe, or visit some of the art museums and churches.
Located in the west of northern Italy, Turin is a city that is usually used as a base for winter sports. While August isn’t the best time for skiing or snowboarding, you can still enjoy slightly cooler temperatures than in the south of Italy. There’s a popular foodie scene here so you can spend your time dining, sipping cooling cocktails and looking out at the stunning mountain views.
As the largest lake in Italy, Garda is quite popular with locals and tourists. It looks like the scene from a postcard, with terracotta roofs poking out from lush forests. This is a great spot for a boat ride or a dip in the water to cool off when the Italian summer gets to be much too much.
If you enjoy the finer things in life, a visit to Lake Como is a must. You can stroll along the waterfront and try to cool off with the lake breeze. Explore the area by boat, sunbathe by the coastline, or sit at a restaurant with a view and enjoy a refreshing drink. Lake Como is definitely one of the more luxurious regions of Italy, so spend some time indulging. Book a nice hotel, pop into the boutiques, and make sure to try as many restaurants as you can.
Rome will be extremely warm in August, but for those who can take the heat, it may be an ideal time to visit. Many of the locals head to the beaches for two weeks this month, leaving Rome slightly emptier than usual. You may experience less crowds, shorter lines, and cheaper prices all around the city. So, if you don’t mind the humidity, and you’re trying to stretch your cash, this is a great option. Keep in mind that the museums tend to be more crowded, so try to stick to the outdoor activities if possible.
OTHER TIPS FOR VISITING ITALY IN AUGUST
- Travel around with a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated. Between the temperatures and the humidity, you’ll want to drink up as often as possible.
- Coastal towns and beaches will be extremely crowded during this time of year. If you plan on visiting them, make sure to book hotels and excursions well in advance. It’s also suggested to get to the beach early if you want a good spot.
- Indoor activities are much more pleasant during this time of year. Try to spend more time inside by visiting museums or shopping malls instead of roaming around outdoors.
- Many Italians are on vacation from August 15th until September 1st. You may find that certain restaurants, shops, and accommodations are closed during this time. While the major tourist attractions will still be open, make sure to inquire about smaller attractions that you may be wanting to visit.
- Since so many tourists are trying to stay cool in August, the museums and indoor activities will often be quite crowded. Make sure to arrive early or book tickets online ahead of time to beat the crowds and the lines.
- When packing for your trip, make sure to bring clothes that are light, breathable, and comfortable. It’s going to be hot and sticky so don’t bring anything that you wouldn’t want to wear in the heat.
Why not take a look at our other monthly guides for Italy created to help you get the most from your next vacation:
- The best things to see and do in Italy in January
- The best things to see and do in Italy in February
- The best things to see and do in Italy in March
- The best things to see and do in Italy in April
- The best things to see and do in Italy in May
- The best things to see and do in Italy in June
- The best things to see and do in Italy in July
- The best things to see and do in Italy in September
- The best things to see and do in Italy in October
- The best things to see and do in Italy in November
- The best things to see and do in Italy in December
Visiting Italy in August will give you plenty of opportunity to check out the museums and cultural attractions. You can mingle with the locals on the beaches, and enjoy slightly cheaper prices and less crowds in the cities. No matter what month you come to Italy, you’ll be sure to find something you love.