August in Italy is often oppressively hot. While the average temperature in Rome of 75°F/24°C may seem like a nice middle-ground, expect heat waves. Also, the temperatures fluctuate throughout the country. In the north, for example, you can expect averages of 65-85°F/18-30°C, 70-90°F/21-32°C in Central Italy, and a more sweltering 80-90°F/26-32°C in the south. Obviously, this makes for great beach weather, especially in more southerly locales like Sicily, but planning a beach holiday during this month comes with its own set of issues (more on this below).
Crowds & Costs
August is an interesting month in which to travel throughout Italy. Yes, it coincides with the summer high season, but this is the main vacation month for Italians as well. That means, like the tourists, locals typically leave the cities and head for the beach. So while you can still expect places like Venice, Rome, and Florence to be packed, smaller cities and towns in the interior will be much less crowded, and therefore you can find better deals on hotels.
While August is prime beach-going weather, with temps perfect for swimming, know that most stretches of sand on the coast are going to be engorged with holidaymakers, both local and foreign, during this time. Hotels in these areas will be full and you can expect to pay high-season prices on everything from restaurants to lodging. In fact, hotels here are typically 100% more expensive than they are during low-seasons months.
Where to Go
Consider making a trip to Italy's north. There are plenty of nice regions to choose from in this section of the country, but to escape the crowds and enjoy the freshest temperatures without the overpowering heat, head to the Dolomites Mountains in Northeast Italy near the border with Switzerland. There's a mountainous province here called South Tyrol that looks like something out of a postcard. The region encompasses a total of eight protected areas: seven nature parks and one national park. In this province, you'll find snowcapped peaks, aquamarine lakes, rolling green hills dotted with medieval castles, and endless acres of grapevines.
One of the most picture-perfect bodies of water in South Tyrol is Lake Prags, with its glassy surface of blue-green water and its mountain backdrop. The castles of the region are can't-miss attractions as well, with the gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, in the alpine town of Meran, the crown jewel. The gardens of the castle were designed in 1850 by Count Trauttmansdorff as a gift for the Empress of Austria, and they truly are fit for royalty. There are 80 gardens in total, featuring landscaped terraces, sun gardens, and oleander steps.
What to Do
If you do visit South Tyrol, you'll definitely want to embark on an outdoor nature excursion. One breathtaking option is a hike around the famous Three Peaks, a section of three mountains of the Dolomites that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many options for day treks featuring multiple trails of between three and 15 miles each with grades ascending from around 1,500 to 5,000 feet. For less strenuous fun, consider zipping along the country highways on a Vespa and passing through those mountain villages of the Puster Valley. Horseback riding is another outdoor adventure great for taking in South Tyrol's stunning scenery.
If you're bound and determined to get in some Italian beach time in on this August holiday, and you want to avoid the biggest crowds, head down to Campania. On the southern end of this region, past the province of Salerno, you'll find the coastline of Cilento National Park, another UNESCO Heritage Site. There are plenty of sandy beaches here that should be less packed than those on the Amalfi Coast. One gem is Baia della Calanca, in Marina di Camerota, which is renowned for its crystalline waters. Other must-visit beaches in this area include Cala Bianca and Baia del Buon Dormire, both of which are as beautiful as any beach in Southeast Asia.
Even though you'll be traveling in the far north of the country, know that these days at least some English is spoken throughout Italy, so you don't have to worry about getting lost in translation.
Events in August
Ferragosto (Assumption Day). On August 15th each year Italians celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, which features many religious processions from churches throughout the country. It's also a national holiday and many businesses and institutions are closed.
Palio di Siena. August 16th is when the second of two annual horse races kicks off in Siena, Tuscany (the first is July 2nd). The event draws masses of fans to the city's central plaza, the Piazza del Campo, for four days of horse racing, events, and merrymaking. This festival coincides with Assumption Day.
Verona Operate Festival. This large festival continues through August and is held at the largest opera venue in the world, Verona's 10,000-seat Roman amphitheater, The Arena.
Traveling to Italy in August? Check out these great itineraries.
Dolomites High Traverse - 7 Days. On this weeklong trek, you'll encounter some of the world's most beautiful alpine scenery, including three of the most famous peaks in the Dolomites: the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Naples & Amalfi Coast - 5 Days. Explore the glass-roofed Galleria Umberto shopping center, enjoy coffee on the medieval Piazza del Plebiscito, and try the seafood cuoppo in Naples. Visit the Pompeii ruins, hike around Mt. Vesuvius, and visit colorful bohemian Positano on the Amalfi Coast.