Those who plan an Italian holiday in March are a little bit ahead of the curve. This is the sweet spot on the calendar when the gloomy weather is just beginning to turn for the better yet the tourist hordes are still far away as they plan their summer invasion. What better time, then, to venture to the old boot and journey down to its sunnier Mediterranean locales. Sicily, we're looking at you.

Weather

In March the worst of the winter is behind you and, aside from the chillier climates in the north, you'll mostly enjoy decent weather. If you're arriving in Rome, count on an average temperature of 54°F/12°C. If this is is still too cold for your liking, you can spend the majority of your time in different regions of Italy.

In the north, temps range from 35-55°F/2-13°C (great for planning a ski holiday), 45-59°F/7-15°C in Central Italy, and 52-61°F/11-16°C in the south. Needless to say, if you want the best shot at ideal outdoor weather, head to the south during this month.

Crowds & Costs

March is one of those supposed off months before and after summer yet before and after winter. Naturally, you can expect cheaper fares on flights and hotels (typically about 50% cheaper than in the high season, but sometimes even 100% cheaper), with the exception being the northern ski resorts.

That said, in March the high season for Italy's ski season is drawing to a close, so you should at a minimum find greater availability for lodging options in the Alps and Dolomites Mountains. If you plan to travel around the country to indulge in different activities, be sure to take the train. It's more efficient than the other forms of public transport, which are unreliable.

Where to Go

If skiing/snowboarding is your thing, then visit the Italian Alps in the northwest of the country or the Dolomites in the northeast. One of the best resorts in which to plan a ski holiday for March is Val Gardena, located in the Dolomites. This network of 12 ski areas with well-maintained slopes is perfect for both families and pros. Moreover, the longer days during the month of March allow for more time on the slopes, and conditions are often sunny and pleasant during this time as well.

However, for a bit of "spring before spring," make a beeline to the far south of the country and the island of Sicily. This is one of the great diverse regions of the country with its world-class beaches and baroque towns. It also features a rich history in the form of Roman and Greek ruins.

The best way to see all the highlights here is on an extended road trip—between seven days and two weeks is the ideal time to spend in Sicily. You can connect all the dots, visiting temperamental Mt. Etna, the UNESCO World Heritage Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the fortress in Cefalú, and the cities of Catania and Palermo. Of course one of the best sights is Matera, another UNESCO gem known for its network of cave dwellings, rock churches, and grottoes. 

On a final note, there's no need to be worried about langauge barriers in Italy. Throughout the country, even in smaller towns, there is typically some level of English spoken. So visit as many places as you can!

What to Do

If you eschew the Sicilian road trip or a skiing/snowboarding holiday, you can still enjoy many of the major highlights of Italy without the sizeable crowds. This includes shorter lines for admission into the world-famous Colosseum, in Rome, the Vatican Museum, and the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

If you do want a big party, and Carnivale (Italy's version of the famous Catholic celebration of Lent) happens to occur in March, head to any major city and enjoy the party. You can find great parades in such locales as Venice, Rome, and Viareggio, in Tuscany. The celebrations won't affect museum accessibility either, as Italy's museums are open 363 days per year.

Events in March

Carnavale. Italy's version of the Carnival celebration of Lent changes months depending on the liturgical calendar but occasionally occurs in March. It is the biggest event in the country, with parades and parties in cities and towns throughout the country, some of which last for weeks. 

Festa Donna Nella (International Women's Day). Italy celebrates women's day on March 8th, as men across the country gift mimosa flowers to the nation's women. 

The Rome Marathon. This often falls on the third or fourth Sunday of the month, but sometimes it occurs in April. The 42k route follows a scenic path throughout the city starting near the Roman Forum, passing the Vatican, and ending at the Colosseum.

Saint Joseph's Feast Day. Italy's answer to Father's Day falls on the 19th of March and children give gifts to their dads to celebrate the occasion. 

Traveling to Italy in March? Check out these great itineraries. 

Spectacular Self-Drive Tour Around Sicily - 14 Days. Experience Sicily in all its glory by driving around the island in two weeks. Highlights of this tour include Palermo and the village of Taormina with its Greek theater and postcard views of Mount Etna.

Adventures in Southern Italy - 7 Days. Visit the island of Capri, the remains of Pompeii, and charming Naples on this active and culinary trip.

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