March is considered a shoulder season in Italy. While there will undoubtedly be tourists around, you won’t find yourself stuck in massive crowds. Spring is just starting to rear its head, giving way to beautiful foliage and hopeful locals. If you’re planning on visiting Italy in March, you’re in for a treat. Between the events, festivals, and well-trodden tourist attractions, you’ll have your hands full of interesting activities. Ready to plan your Italy vacation for March? Here are the best things to see and do.
March Weather in Italy
The weather in March can be slightly unpredictable. The beginning of the month often still feels cold like February, and the rest of the month varies significantly depending on the part of Italy you’re visiting. Keep in mind that in general, the country tends to be rainy, chilly, and damp. You’ll want to pack plenty of rain gear and durable shoes, especially if you’re sightseeing outside. That being said, the weather isn’t always cold during March. Typical temperatures are as follows:
Northern Italy: 2-13°C
Central Italy: 7-16°C
Southern Italy: 10-16°C
The weather can actually get quite warm, especially in southern Italy. In fact, many people prefer these temperatures because they are the perfect compromise between hot summer temperatures and cold winter weather.
So, here’s what we recommend:
Take a Self-Guided Pizza Tour
When in Italy, you must eat pizza! We recommend taking a self-guided pizza tour to taste the best pies around the country. It’s an activity you can do in any weather, and one that will be enjoyable no matter where in the country you happen to be. Some of the best spots for pizza are Naples, Rome, Florence, and Tuscany. While we recommend that you find your favorite pizza spots on your own, here are a few suggestions to get you started. Try a slice at Pizzarium, Pizzaria La Notizia, Pizzeria Fratelli Salvo, and La Gatta Mangiona.
Take a Wine Bar Tour
Italy is famous for the wine it produces, and if you’re visiting, you’ll want a taste. Wine bars can be found all over the country, and hold some of Italy’s best bottles. You can drink wine in any weather, so a wine tour is a great way to spend a dreary, March afternoon. Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice are great cities to test out the local wines, and some of the top wine bars include Enoteca Ferrara, N’Ombra de Vin, and Coquinarius. If you happen to be there on a sunny day, many wine bars have outdoor seating so you can enjoy the beauty of the landscape too.
Aquarium of Genoa
Need a great indoor activity for the whole family? The Aquarium of Genoa is a top choice! It’s the largest aquarium in the country and is a great place to escape the rain. You’ll find it in Genoa’s former harbor area, holding 70 tanks that contain 6,000,000 liters of water. There are exhibits, historical artifacts, and plenty of sealife to view. Since there are 10,000 meters of exhibit space, you may want to give yourself plenty of time to explore.
National Museum of Cinema
If you happen to be visiting the northern city of Turin, this quirky museum is a must-see. It will be a bit colder up north, so a museum like this is the perfect way to stay warm and dry in the March weather. A historian, movie lover, and collector erected this museum which features old video equipment, movie posters, film paraphernalia, and motion picture-related collectables. This personal collection is seriously impressive, and is an inspiring place to visit for anyone who appreciates a good film. Check out the collection of paintings and movie posters before you leave.
Take a Cooking Class
Food is a way of life in Italy and a cooking class gets you up close and personal with the culinary scene. There are cooking classes in nearly every city, all over the country, so you should be able to join one no matter where you are. Not only will you get to cook and eat the food, but you’ll take back some valuable culinary skills as souvenirs. Learn all about Italian cooking spices, flavor profiles, and ingredients. Many classes will teach methods for hand making pasta, whipping up flavorful sauces, and crafting perfect desserts. Your friends will love it when you test out your Italian cooking skills back home.
Go on a Cafe Tour
If you love drinking coffee in cute cafes, Italy won’t disappoint. Italians love their cafes, so you’ll be able to join in on the caffeination and the culture. Wander cities like Venice, Rome, Milan, and Florence and pop into as many cafes as you can. They’re great places to get out of the rain, warm up, and people watch. Grab a book, an espresso, and spend the afternoon soaking up Italy the authentic way. You’ll find traditional spots for cappuccinos as well as trendy, hipster hotspots where the Italian youth gather.
Shop in Rome’s Covered Markets
Shopping in Rome’s markets are a must while visiting Italy. However, since the March weather isn’t always ideal, you may want to search for a covered market instead. Rome has quite a few of these where you’ll find all sorts of local eats, fresh produce and interesting souvenirs. Try visiting the Mercato Trionfale, Esquilino Market, and the Mercato Testaccio. These markets offer an authentic, Italian experience without having to worry about rain.
Grotta delle Ninfe Hot Springs
Italy in March can be rainy and chilly, making it the perfect month for hot springs. Italy is scattered with these natural, heated pools, and many of them are off the standard tourist trail. If you want a unique hot springs experience, check out Grotta delle Ninfe, located in Cerchiara. The water is usually around 30°C all year, and the entrance fee is quite cheap. Locals usually make up the small crowds here, as they gather to soak up the healing benefits of the water. It’s said that sulfur-carbon content helps to cure ailments like rheumatoid arthritis and a variety of skin diseases.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Stay warm and dry inside one of Rome’s most interesting art museums. Inside this gallery is Rome’s largest collection of art owned by a private collector. This impressive collection was the joint effort of four families who wanted to compile a body of artwork that would show off their incredible taste. While it’s not the most popular art museum in Rome, it does have a significant collection of 16th and 17th century artwork that rivals other museums in the city. Expect to see a collection of lavish frescoes, oil paintings, sculptures, and a display of wealth that inspires.
This is Italy’s largest cathedral so it definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary. It took six centuries to complete, and was dedicated to St. Mary of Nativity. It’s the seat of Milan’s Archbishop, and stands as an extremely impressive work of architecture. Give yourself plenty of time to explore as the cathedral is full of historical artifacts and artwork.
The Uffizi can be found in Florence, and is one of the top museums to visit in Italy. It’s one of the most important and most-visited art museums in all of Italy. In fact, it’s one of the most significant art museums in the world, and features important works centered around the Italian Renaissance. Considered one of the first modern museums, this gallery has been open for public viewing since the 16th century. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this massive museum, because there is a lot to see. Some of the more famous works include: The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, The Holy Family by Michelangelo, The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Leo X by Raphael, and Self-Portrait as a Young Man by Rembrandt.
If you want to spend multiple days inside extravagant museums, the Vatican is the place. This city features a collection of significant galleries, sculpture gardens, and beautiful works of architecture. The museums hold more than 20,000 works of art that has been collected and passed down from Pope to Pope. The Gallery of Maps and the Sistine Chapel are two highlights that you should make sure to see on your visit.
National Archeological Museum in Naples
When visiting Naples, this archeological museum is one of the highlights. It’s filled with artifacts from ancient Rome, and also includes pieces from Roman, Greek and the Renaissance time periods. Make sure to see the Farnese Collection, which is made up of engraved gems, the Farnese Cup, and the Farnese Marbles. You’ll also find artifacts from Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. The museum is also well-known for its collection of marble sculptures, mosaics, Egyptian artifacts, and its secret room.
Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Located in Venice, this modern art museum can be found on the Grand Canal. It’s one of the top attractions in Venice, and is a great way to spend a March afternoon. The art collection can be found in the 18th century palace, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, and displays a private collection of modernist art. Inside, you’ll find collections including works of Surrealism, Cubism, sculptures, and Abstract Expressionism. Some of the museum highlights include: The Poet by Picasso, Nude by Marcel Duchamp, and Woman With Animals by Albert Gleizes.
March Festival and Events in Italy
Carnevale doesn’t always fall in March, but it happens quite a lot depending on when the Easter holiday is. This is one of the country’s largest festivals, and the epicenter of celebration is in Venice. Expect live performances, music, parades, and locals wearing lavish costumes. Many of the swanky hotels will throw outlandish masquerade parties that you should try and attend. They are truly a once in a lifetime experience. Check with your hotel to see if they offer costume rental. This way, you can join in on the fun without busting your budget on an expensive costume.
Festa della Donna
Also known as International Women’s Day, this celebration happens on March 8th each year. It’s a country-wide event during which men bring the women in their lives flowers, and take them out to dinner. Most restaurants will have special menus, and cities will throw events and concerts to celebrate. Women typically get together with their female friends to go to dinner, the movies, or a show. And, many museums offer discounted tickets for women.
Feast Day of San Giuseppe
Also known as Father’s Day, this holiday takes place on March 19th of each year. It’s celebrated all over Italy and is usually accompanied by bonfires, pageants, and special deals. On Father’s Day, it’s tradition for kids to shower their dads with gifts.
Festa della Primavera
This festival is all about the celebration of spring. It typically takes place on March 21st, and is characterized by festivals, regional food, and live music. Spring is celebrated all around the country, so you’ll most likely run into some kind of festivities if you’re traveling in Italy during this time.
Reenactment of Caesar’s Death
This reenactment takes place in Rome on March 16th. There will be various cultural events by the Roman Forum, including a complete display of Caesar’s death. If you’re into history, this festival is an added bonus to a day of sightseeing around Rome.
If you’re into long-distance running, you may want to sign up for the Rome Marathon before your trip. It takes place on the third Sunday in March and stretches for 42km around the city. The race starts off at the Roman Forum and takes runners through some of Rome’s most famous sites. Expect to run past the Colosseum and the Vatican while competing with athletes from around the globe. This is one of the most interesting and healthiest ways to see the famous sites of the city.
If you’re visiting Italy in March, you’ll be met with cooler temperatures, celebrations of spring, and plenty of activities to keep you busy. The weather isn’t always predictable but March is shoulder season, which means there won’t be many tourist crowds to compete with when visiting the sites.
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 June
- The best things to see and do in Italy in July
- The best things to see and do in Italy in August
- 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