Rainy days are far and few between in Italy, yet when the downpour starts it is only too easy to take it personally and shake your fist at the sky for spoiling your otherwise meticulously planned holiday.
People flock to Italy eager to enjoy its fabled sunny weather while taking in its history, art, and good food. After all, we have all seen those films set in Italy where the sun always shines. Not to mention the paintings of the Italian masters in which blue skies reign supreme perfectly adorned with fluffy white clouds.
What happens then when you arrive here and it looks more like Giorgione’s Tempest instead?!
Most of the time it is nice and sunny in Italy. After all, Rome has on average 218 sunny mornings and 232 clear evenings per year, while the figures for Venice are, respectively, 188 and 201. Yet, there are moments when the skies open and it feels like the rain will never end.
November is traditionally Italy’s wettest month. And then, April, May, September, and October can bring some torrential rains, too. While most of the time the horizon clears within a couple of hours, there are still occasions when the rainy weather can last a few days.
As it has been the case over the first ten days of May this year. We have had thunderstorms and lightning, rivers running high, huge raindrops splattering on windshields in a never-ending rain dance…
Plus, in the mountains less than 40 mins away from us it actually snowed. Yes, I know it’s May. But the weather has its own agenda which may not fully coincide with your holiday plans.
So, what happens when you arrive in Italy and it rains?!
You may be lucky and it may be a quick spring shower just to make everything feel nice and fresh. Or it may be a week-long deluge. In any case, it is always good to have a plan B at hand.
To help you out, I have written 21 useful ideas for things to get up to on a rainy day in Italy with or without kids. From seeking refuge in museums and galleries to shopping and using the services of a local guide to show you all of the best inside places, there is a whole host of suggestions which will help you outsmart the weather and keep you and your kids dry.
At the end of this blog post, I have also included some practical information about Italy’s weather and how to prepare for a rainy day in Italy.
21 Things To Do on a Rainy Day in Italy (With or Without Kids)
1. Make it a Museum Day
The easiest way to escape the rain in Italy is to head to the nearest museum or two. In a country with 3,837 museums, galleries, and collections (according to Italy’s National Institute of Statistics), there is a never-ending list of riveting places to visit here in order to learn about art, history, design, and food.
From the world’s most famous museums and galleries like Turin’s Egyptian Museum and Palazzo Madama and Florence’s Accademia and Uffizi Gallery to off the beaten track collections which are incredibly rich in artifacts (like the Atestino Archaeological Museum in the Veneto‘s medieval walled town of Este), there is always yet another museum in Italy you simply need to see.
So, do it while simultaneously escaping the rain!
With Kids: There are some amazing museums in Italy to explore with kids on a rainy day. From MUSE – The Science Museum of Trento to Esapolis – The Living Museum of Insects, Silkworms and Bees in Padua and the National History Museum in Venice, there are many options to keep curious kids entertained for hours when it rains outside. A personal favourite of mine is the Museo della Civilta Contadina Carlo Etenli. Huddled in the Berici Hills just outside Vicenza, it houses in a series of huge rooms an incredible collection illustrating village life during the last two centuries.
2. Head to a Historical Library or a Bookshop
If you love books, you will be in heaven in Italy. There are many historical libraries dotted all over the country which can be visited on a guided tour or individually. Often nestled in lavish buildings which are beautiful to look at and learn about, these libraries have rich collections of historical manuscripts and old books.
Specialised exhibitions, events, and even concerts are often organised there, too. For example, to mark the 500th anniversary from Leonardo da Vinci’s death, in 2019 the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan is the place to see four exhibitions dedicated to Leonardo’s genius.
Some of the most precious and interesting historical libraries to visit in Italy are:
- Biblioteca Angelica in Rome,
- Marciana National Library in Venice,
- National Library of Naples,
- Historic Rooms and Library of the Archiginnasio of Bologna,
- Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence, and
- Biblioteca Capitolare in Verona which is considered to be the most ancient in the world in the field of Latin culture.
Yet, there are dozens if not hundreds of historical libraries all over Italy. Every Italian city, town and even monastery has a rich collection of manuscripts, books, and periodicals offering a glimpse into history, philosophy, and art.
In addition to historical libraries, in Italy, you will also find many curious bookshops where you can spend an hour or two browsing through new and old editions of exciting books. From the tiny bookshops of Venice where knowledgeable booksellers will help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge about Venetian history to the modern bookshops of Milan and Rome, books are everywhere in Italy.
Even if you don’t speak Italian, don’t be discouraged to visit these exciting places. Often, you will find books and periodicals in English and other languages being sold, too.
With Kids: Use a rainy day in Italy to head to the nearest library and/or bookshop with your kids. Libraries often organise reading events for children and usually have a room with books for the little ones to choose from. Often, they have kids’ books in several languages, too. For example, try Biblioteca Ragazzi in Verona and the Biblioteca di Palazzo Constantini in Vicenza.
In the Italian bookshops, you will find a large selection of books for kids of any age. There are even some lovely guidebooks especially developed for kids in order to guide them through the history and sights of Italy. Try Pimpa’s city guides (Pimpa being a popular cartoon dog in Italy). They are also published in English.
Personally, I love the multilingual sticker books by Burian Publishing House which introduce kids to the wonders of Venice, Veneto, Tuscany, and Italy as a whole.
3. Relax at a Spa or Soak in Thermal Baths
If it’s going to rain while you are in Italy, take any opportunity to get wet. Just not in the cold rain outside but in a hot mineral water pool inside.
Famous for its spa culture since Etruscan and Roman times, Italy has many mineral water springs feeding excellent spas and thermal baths which don’t cost the earth to access.
You can easily get a three-hour or a daily pass for the spa of a luxury hotel for anything from 18-20 euros upwards. It could be even cheaper on work days, too. This way, you will get access to all sorts of facilities like sauna, Turkish bath, heated benches, emotional showers, and a Kneipp trail.
Thermal baths (called terme in Italian) are a big thing in Italy and usually, they combine spa experiences with hot mineral water swimming pools and all sorts of water-based treatments and activities (both covered and open-air). For example, check out Aquardens – the largest Italian thermal park – which is next door to Verona.
There are many spa towns throughout Italy, too. It’s a safe bet to say that if the name of an Italian town includes the word ‘Terme’ then this is a spa town fed by nearby mineral springs. Yet not all spa towns here have ‘Terme’ in their names, so check this list to give you an idea of the number and locations of Italy’s spa towns.
Some of the most famous ones are Abano and Montegrotto Terme in the Euganean Hills, Sirmione on Lake Garda, Bibione on the Adriatic Sea, Salsomaggiore Terme in Emilia-Romagna, and Montecatini Terme in Tuscany.
With Kids: Please, bear in mind that some spas may have age restrictions in place and children only over a certain age may be allowed in. Make sure to check if the spa you have chosen is kid-friendly or not, before getting there.
Thermal baths, on the other hand, are usually a great place for children to swim and have fun with their parents.
4. Follow the Sun to Where it Doesn’t Rain
It’s time for a day trip!
There is always a chance that it will be nice and dry in another city which is just a stone’s throw away from your base in Italy.
The first thing I do on a rainy day in Vicenza – a gorgeous Palladian city where I have been living for close to five years now – is to check the weather forecast for Venice and Verona. Both are about three-quarters of an hour and in opposite directions away from Vicenza. You wouldn’t believe it how often it may be raining in one, but not in the other.
Hence, I head in the direction of the sun.
Even a short travel time away from wherever you are in Italy, you are bound to find an exciting destination to spend the day exploring. Just check the weather forecast before you get on the train or in the car. Here are a few helpful lists with many ideas for day trips to get you started:
- Day Trips from Padua, Italy – Over 35 Unmissable Destinations in the Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna
- Day Trips from Verona – 16 Destinations to Fall in Love With (With Travel Times and Train Tips)
- Day Trips from Vicenza, Italy – Over 90 of the Best Destinations
- 11 of the Best Day Trips from Venice (With Lots of Photos, Travel Times and Italy Train Tips)
With Kids: Well, you take them with you and make it a little adventure getting to know more of Italy than you may have originally planned.
5. Enjoy an Expo or a Fair
Italians organise some of the best expos and fairs ever! They have these huge expo and fair facilities built on the outskirts of almost every major Italian city where they hold exciting exhibitions and events which will take you many hours to explore and have fun at. The best bit is that it is all held inside in a covered space, so you won’t get wet if it happens to be a rainy day in Italy.
No matter what you are interested in – books, tattoos, horses, travel, or bikes – you will find an expo or a fair in Italy dedicated to it.
Some of the best expos to put on your Italian calendar now are:
- Verona Motor Bike Expo;
- FieraCavalli – one of the world’s largest exhibitions dedicated to horses and riding. It’s held in Verona but there are also similar horse-centred fairs held in Rome, and Cremona;
- Abilmente – a huge fair dedicated to all things hobby and craft which is held both in Rome and Vicenza twice a year;
- CosmoFood Fair – a large event dedicated to Italian food;
- Vinitaly, Verona – the world’s largest wine exhibition;
- Milano Design Week – the world’s most important design event;
- Turin International Book Fair – Italy’s largest trade fair for books.
In the last four and a half years, I have been to such wacky and wonderful events in Italy like an exotic animals expo and even a cats fair. Not to mention the many travel fairs I have attended in Padua and Milan.
Keep an eye on the websites of the organisers of large fairs in Italy (like the Italian Exhibition Group) and you will know in advance what events take place when. This way, if it rains, you will always have somewhere really fun to go to.
With Kids: There are many kids-oriented and/or kids-friendly expos and fairs taking place in Italy.
One of them is the Children and Family Fair – a two-day extravaganza in Vicenza. It is like the best day out a child can have. Another large expo completely designed for kids and their parents is Serido which is held near Lake Garda. In Bologna, don’t miss the large annual fair dedicated to children’s books.
6. Visit an Aquarium
There are some lovely aquariums all over Italy which are a great escape plan on a rainy day. There is something quite nice and comforting looking at water and being close to water without actually getting wet.
In Genoa, on the Ligurian coast, you will find Italy’s largest aquarium. 12,000 specimens from the Mediterranean, the Tropics, the World’s Oceans and the North and the South Poles live there. They belong to 600 animal species and 200 plant species. It’s enough sightseeing to keep you happily occupied for hours on a rainy day in Italy.
Here are a few more Italian aquariums to keep in mind if it rains:
- Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium (Veneto),
- Sea Life Aquarium in Jesolo (Veneto),
- Aquarium of Livorno (Tuscany),
- Marine Aquarium in Triest (Friuli-Venezia Giulia),
- Aquarium of Cattolica (Emilia-Romagna) – the largest aquarium on the Adriatic Sea, and
- Aquarium of Alghero (Sardinia).
Don’t miss Italy’s oldest aquarium – the Zoological Station Anton Dohrn in Naples (Campania). It was created in 1872.
With Kids: Going to an aquarium on a rainy day in Italy is an activity which children will love.
7. Play in an Indoor Playcentre (Or Rather Relax While the Kids Do It)
Make it all about the kids on a rainy day in Italy!
After all, the rest of the time, most probably you dragged them to museums, palaces and other historic and art sights. So, take a deep breath and relax over a nice cup of coffee, while they burn some energy and play alongside Italian kids.
There are many indoor playcentres in every large and small Italian city and town. For recommendations, ask at your hotel or at the local tourist information office.
For example, my four favourite indoor playcentres in and around Vicenza are:
- Kids Village – a small and compact place in Vicenza with everything to keep children happy for a couple of hours;
- LaLudo – a nice playcentre with animators and lots of toys and games for babies, toddlers, and kids;
- Magilandia – a very nice playcentre-cum-restaurant in Galliera Veneta (about 30 mins away from Vicenza) where you can spend the whole day watching your child having the time of their life. There is free Wi-Fi there, too.
- Piramiland – a small playcentre in the Piramidi Shopping Centre (which is 6 km away from Vicenza centre), where for a small fee children can play for up to two hours while their parents shop.
There are many indoor playcentres dotted all over Italy, so don’t hesitate to treat your child on a rainy day.
With Kids: Well, this option is all about the kids. So, remind them how nice of you it was to take them to an indoor playcentre in Italy next time they complain that you have yet another museum visit in mind.
8. Shop Til You Drop
Yey! It’s Italy after all. Land of fashion, craftsmen, and exquisitely handmade goods.
You will be spoiled for choice in terms of fashion stores, artisan boutiques and even cute deli shops.
Shopping in Italy is akin to a cultural experience thanks to the local art and craft traditions. Plus, the country is the birthplace of some of the most refined and/or well-known companies in the world.
Make good use of a rainy day in Italy by visiting exquisite artisan studios and shops where everything – from glass beads and jewellery to paper and lithographs – is handmade following centuries-old techniques.
Escape the rain in one of Italy’s huge shopping centres, where you can find all sorts of brands – from the cheap and cheerful to the high fashion ones. Not to mention the outlet villages outside of the larger cities like Florence, Venice, and Milan.
Italy has much to offer in terms of unique souvenirs and wonderful products, so take your time to explore. Before you know it, you may end up purchasing several litres of extra virgin olive oil from a small farm, handmade lemon-scented soaps from Lake Garda to last you a year at least and more Venetian beads than you can wear in your lifetime.
The best bit is that many of the Italian craftsmen and artisan workshops can pack and post your purchases abroad, so you don’t have to lug it all on the plane with you.
With Kids: Some shopping centres, like Vicenza’s Piramidi in point 7 above have a paid-for indoor playcentre. In other words, this is a safe place with lots of toys and play equipment where you can drop your child off while you shop. Check in advance if this is the case for the shopping centre/outlet village you plan to visit.
Another option here is to visit an artisan’s workshop with your kids so that they can watch the artistic process and see how things are made by hand. Just explain in advance that touching the tools, the machinery, and the finished products is not permitted.
9. Stock on Food from a Covered Market
Many Italian cities and towns have specially built covered markets where trade has been going on strong for centuries.
For example, if you find yourself in Venice, Bologna, Florence or Genoa, make sure that you visit, respectively, Rialto Fish Market (Venice), Mercato delle Erbe and Mercato di Mezzo (both in Bologna), Mercato Centrale (Florence), and Mercato Orientale (Genoa).
No matter what’s the weather outside, there you will be able to buy fresh food and produce to cook at your accommodation in Italy.
Another thing you can do in a covered market on a rainy day in Italy is to have lunch or dinner there. Expect authentic local food prepared and served by the traditional delis and eateries huddled inside.
When in Padua, don’t miss Sotto Il Salone – allegedly, the oldest food shopping centre in Italy. This is the arcaded area on the ground floor of the splendid medieval town hall Palazzo della Ragione which has been housing Padua’s finest delis, cafes and food shops for the past 800 years.
Click on the following links for more first-hand information about Italy’s covered markets:
- Italian Markets – 11 Types of Markets You Can Find in Italy
- Padua’s 800 Years Old Market
- Exploring Venice – Rialto Fish Market
- Point 4, Mercato di Mezzo – Bologna, Italy – 10 Stories to Introduce You to the Fat Lady of the Italian Cities
With Kids: Food shopping in a covered market on a rainy day in Italy can be a lot of fun for kids. Give them a task. For example, to spot an unusual fish or a new for them vegetable. Allow them to help you choose and bag fresh fruit. Buy small portions of many different foods and have a sampling session thus opening your kids’ food horizons and allowing them to learn more about Italy.
10. Attend a Cooking Class
Spending a few hours learning how to cook authentic Italian food is always time well invested. Especially, when it rains or snows outside.
You cannot fully enjoy and understand Italy without enjoying and understanding its food, so seek to improve your knowledge of it with the help of an experienced local foodie.
There are many cooking classes and courses you can do all over Italy. Ask for recommendations at your hotel, the local tourist information office or a trusted Facebook travel group. A very active group with lots of good, first-hand tried and tested suggestions is Traveling to Italy.
If you are in Venice, check Cook in Venice. They organise different cooking classes. One of them gives you a chance to learn to cook traditional Venetian meals while dressed in period garb and in the lavish setting of a 15th-century Venetian palace.
With Kids: Check out the cooking classes for kids held by Il Mondo di Bu in Vicenza. They are very popular plus the lady who runs them also holds regular cooking demonstrations and events in shopping malls and supermarkets all over the Northern Italian region of the Veneto.
11. Hire a Guide for a Private Tour of All the Best Inside Places
The best way to utilise your time in Italy (especially when the weather is not at its usual Italian best) is to hire a private guide and ask them to show you all of the inside (figuratively and, well, literally speaking) places.
Private tour guides are people with an intimate knowledge of the local history, art and sights. They have spent years accumulating precious information. Plus, they have undergone stringent training and are officially registered. You can book them and tell them exactly what you want to see or what your limitations are (‘Not getting wet in the rain!’, sounds like a reasonable requirement).
For the rest of Italy, have a look at the list with guides on this website GTI – Guide Turistiche Italiane.
Alternatively, many museums, villas, palaces and other places of interest dotted all over Italy organise regular guided visits to their historical collections and premises. Check the website of the place you are interested in for up-to-date information about the tours’ starting times and cost.
With Kids: Private tour guides can tailor your itinerary to suit kids of any age and interest. Just mention your specific requirements to them in advance.
Many Italian museums and galleries also organise workshops and happenings specifically for children. A very popular one is the Kids Day event at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. It takes place every Sunday and it is aimed at kids from 4 to 10 years of age.
Otherwise, check the websites and the Facebook pages of the different museums and places of interest in Italy for their most up to date schedules of events.
12. Walk Under the Porticoes
And see how far you can go before you have to step out in the rain.
Italian cities have the fabulous advantage of porticoes. In other words, these are pavements with a ceiling! Porticoes allow you to hide from sudden downpours while you keep walking to your destination.
You will find short and long porticoes in every Italian city and town.
Bologna in Emilia-Romagna, Turin in Piedmont, and Padua in the Veneto are the three Italian cities with the longest total length of porticoes. Bologna has 38 km, Turin – 18 km, and Padua – 12 km of porticoes. At the same time, Padua is second after Bologna in terms of the correlation between the length of its porticoes and that of its streets.
The tradition of building porticoes in Italy is ancient. Nowadays all over the country, you can find porticoes of many different eras and styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Neoclassical, and even several modern ones.
Porticoes are really useful both when the weather is bad and when the sun is burning you to a crisp. Being able to hide from a torrential rain or a scorching sun while still walking to your destination is pure Italian luxury.
With Kids: Challenge your kids to try to walk the longest distance without having to leave the shelter of the porticoes. Reward them with a hot chocolate with whipped cream or a large gelato (yes, gelato is eaten in Italy no matter the season or the weather!).
13. Visit Italy’s Historical Coffee Houses
A rainy day in Italy is a perfect excuse to spend some time exploring the country’s historical coffee houses.
While the rest of the world has to rely on large multinationals serving the same huge diluted with milk coffee-based drinks, Italy has a number of exquisite cafes which date back to the first arrival of coffee in Europe.
For your convenience, here is a very short list of some of the most well-known historical coffee houses in Italy:
- Caffe Florian, Venice – founded in 1720. This is the oldest cafe in Italy and the second oldest in the world in continuous operation.
- Caffe Fiorio, Turin – founded in 1780. A historic coffee house which has conserved Turin’s atmosphere and traditions. This is also where you can taste the traditional for Turin bicerin – a hot drink made of espresso, drinking chocolate, and whole milk.
- Caffe Bontadi, Rovereto – founded in 1790 as a coffee-roasting business, nowadays it still roasts coffee as well as having its own historical coffee house, a coffee museum and a barista academy.
- Caffe Pedrocchi, Padua – founded in 1831. Used to be known as the ‘cafe without doors’ as it was open non-stop day and night.
- Gran Caffe Gambrinus, Naples – founded in 1860. A stunning belle-epoque coffee house which has also served as a creative hub for renowned intellectuals, artists and journalists.
Come rain or shine, from Naples, Florence and Rome to Turin and Venice, make sure that you visit at least one of Italy’s historic coffee houses during your stay here in order to get in touch with the country’s centuries-old traditions of good coffee.
With Kids: A historic coffee house in Italy is a great place for kids, too. This is where you can get them a nice cup of thick and gooey hot chocolate, a scoop or three of handmade gelato or a piece of cake or another dessert which they will keep talking about for years.
Make a visit to an Italian historic coffee house a family event and treat your significant other and your kids to something really special – the opportunity to have lovely food and drinks in gorgeous historical surroundings.
14. Eat Local at a Sagra
On a rainy day in Italy, one of the best things you can do is to get to eat some authentic local food surrounded exclusively by Italians.
A great place to do this is a sagra (pl. sagre). A sagra is a food festival designed to promote a typical local product like a rare locally-grown vegetable, a particularly splendid type of meat/fish or even local truffles.
I have described in some detail what a sagra is in this blog post, so click on the link and have a look for yourself. At a sagra, you eat, drink, take part in a tombola and then listen to live music and even dance. It’s all very quaint, very relaxed. Food costs little, it’s served in single-use plates, yet it tastes superb. Kids play and run around. Old couples waltz together. It’s a great insight into the Italian way of life.
So, instead of shutting yourself in your hotel room at night just because it is raining outside, be brave and head to a local sagra to sample some of the best food in your life and to enjoy an evening surrounded by Italians.
With Kids: An Italian sagra is a great place to introduce kids to new foods. As the dishes served are usually quite cheap, get a few so as to give your children a chance to taste different authentic flavours and textures.
15. Stuff Yourself at an Italian Patisserie
Count me biased on this one but Italian patisseries have the best sweets and cakes in the world. It’s like you’ve died and gone to patisserie heaven!
The best bit is that the ever so conscious about their weight Italians make their dolci quite small in size. Tiny even! So, you can have quite a few and still be far, far off the calorie intake that a big slab of English cake provides.
You don’t need any excuses to eat more than one. Try five, six, ten, if you like. Call it ‘cultural experimentation’. Call it anything. Italian desserts and cakes need to be experienced.
Hence, if you get caught by the rain in Italy, head over to the nearest cafe/patisserie and sample their desserts to your heart’s and belly’s content. Take your time! Enjoy!
Click here to see what a traditional Italian patisserie looks like. This one is Vicenza’s oldest pasticceria and in my interview with its owner, he revealed some of the traditions and secrets of Italian and Venetian desserts.
With Kids: What can I say?! Kids will totally love you if you take them to an Italian patisserie and let them eat their way through the colourful desserts on display. Rain or not!
16. Go Underground
Rain comes from above, so to escape it, head underground.
As luck would have it, some of the most interesting sights in Italy are, indeed, under the ground. From beautiful natural caves to Etruscan tombs and Roman villas, you will find that Italy’s underground world is almost as rich as the one above.
Some of the things you can see underground in Italy are Roman remains, tunnels and trenches left from the two World Wars, as well as whole underground cities. Add to this the many natural caves dotted all over Italy.
Take, for example, the mighty Frasassi Caves in the Central Italian region of the Marche. Discovered in 1971, this karst cave system has a series of breathtaking rooms. One of them – the so-called Ancona Abyss – is so cavernous that Milan’s Duomo can fit inside it without any problems.
The land of the Marche, Italy also hides several man-made underground facilities. The towns of Fermo, Camerano, and Fano, to mention but a few, give you a chance to explore some of the most intriguing underground structures in Europe.
In the town of Fermo, you will find the largest ever Roman cisterns (in terms of their surface area). They were built in the 1st century AD. The cisterns can still be visited. They comprise 30 rooms divided into three lines and have an area of 2200 sq. m.
Camerano is a small town next to Mount Cornero and the Adriatic Sea. There you can visit a mysterious underground town which was built in ancient times by the Picentes tribe. The galleries, tunnels, and niches there are decorated with bas-reliefs, friezes, and religious symbols.
The town of Fano in the Marche, Italy is the modern-day embodiment of what originally was the Roman settlement of Fanum Fortunae. There are many Roman relics there, many of which are beneath the surface of the town’s infrastructure. You can go on a guided tour of the underground archaeological area and see such exciting things like the Roman amphitheatre and the Roman marketplace.
In Vicenza don’t miss the Criptoportico Romano – the preserved gallery of a Roman villa which is now several metres underground. Another great place below Vicenza’s surface is just underneath the city’s Duomo. The Diocesan Museum organises guided visits there which are very interesting.
If you want to get close to more recent events, try visiting Monte Grappa – an iconic place in the Italian war history. There, rain or not, you can explore an incredibly long tunnel which had been excavated in the hills during the First World War.
With Kids: In general, most kids love exploring what’s underground. If this will be your kids’ first visit to an underground place though, try preparing them for the experience.
For example, you can gently explain to them that it will be dark, that it may be wet or slippery and that you will be part of a group and need to walk together with the group. It’s a good idea to emphasise that touching is not allowed. Especially if you are visiting a cave where thousands of years were needed to build the beautiful but fragile stalactites and stalagmites.
You know your child best so you can decide for yourself if they will enjoy a visit to an underground place or not. Personally, I wouldn’t take my child into catacombs but caves that are open for tourists are fine with me.
17. Practice Riposo
Riposo is the long extended lunch break which is the norm here in Italy. Riposo is an integral part of local culture and if you find yourself outside of the most touristy Italian places you will soon come to experience it for yourself.
Shops shut for, on average, three hours each afternoon. Often, smaller museums and lesser-known sights also follow suit.
It really is a special type of disappointment to travel all the way in the rain to see something you have set your heart on, only to find that it’s in the middle of its traditional riposo.
The best way to beat riposo in Italy is to join it. Especially when it rains. There is nothing like taking a short nap in your snug hotel room when the skies are throwing buckets of water outside. After an hour or two, you will be all refreshed and ready to explore. Plus, everything will be open again just when you are there to see it.
If you want to learn more about Italian riposo, how it works and what are its roots, please, have a look here:
With Kids: Riposo is a great thing when you travel with a baby or a toddler. They can have a nice little snooze with you while the rain continues outside.
Slightly older kids may hate the idea of having to sleep or relax in the afternoon. They may much prefer it though to being dragged from shop to shop or from museum to museum on a rainy day in Italy.
18. See the Latest Blockbusters
Italians love to dub films assigning the same voiceover actor to the same Hollywood heartthrob for all of their respective careers. This is why, when you put the TV on in Italy, you end up listening to famous actors speaking perfect Italian.
As luck would have it though, in some Italian cinemas you can watch a film in its original language. If you see a VO or Versione Originale beside the film listing, this means that the film is going to be subbed (instead of dubbed), hence you can listen to its original soundtrack.
Film listings are published in the Italian daily newspapers. Plus, you can check a website like Trovacinema (in Italian but easy to navigate and understand) to see what’s being shown near you.
With Kids: Unfortunately, kids’ films are usually completely dubbed in Italian. It is not impossible to find a kids’ film being screened in its original language but it will require more research and even travelling further away to reach the respective cinema.
19. Attend a Musical Performance
Italy is the land of music so treat any rain (or snow for that matter) as the perfect excuse to take a musical performance in the splendid surroundings of a historic opera house.
You don’t have to pay hefty prices for tickets though in order to get to listen to some superb performances. Many churches in Italy offer free or very reasonably priced concerts, too. For example, check the organ performances at the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. Taking place almost daily, they are free to attend.
In addition, many music festivals are held each year all over Italy. For some suggestions, check point 4 in this list.
With Kids: Introducing kids to music as early as possible is a gift that they will cherish their whole lives. Even if you wouldn’t consider taking your unruly brood to a three-hour long opera performance in Italy, there are other easy ways to help them get interested in music during your visit to the bel paese.
Museums dedicated to music and famous composers abound in Italy. A visit to one or a few of them is a great activity when it’s cold and wet outside. For example, don’t miss the Museum of Music in Venice or the Museo del Violino in Cremona.
In addition, large opera houses, like La Fenice in Venice and La Scala in Milan can also be visited during the day to admire their lavish interiors and learn about their musical history. La Scala also has a very interesting historical collection dedicated to the art of opera and to many famous opera singers and composers.
20. Buy an Umbrella
Well! If you can’t beat them, join them.
The thing is that it doesn’t rain that often in Italy at all, but when it does, it pours and you can’t waste half a day of your life being stuck in your room and waiting for the clouds to move over.
There are many things to do on a rainy day in Italy. One of them is simply to go out and enjoy the beauty of the Italian cities and countryside when they are at their wettest.
Follow the example of the locals and invest in a big umbrella. The most popular umbrellas here are golf-sized and are like a little hut over your head keeping you totally dry.
Take your new Italian umbrella for a walk and marvel at the deserted streets and the lack of crowds. It is the perfect time, really, to sightsee without getting squashed by other eager tourists.
With Kids: You may want to add a pair of wellies to your kids’ attire as the appeal of jumping in the puddles on a centuries-old square never gets old.
21. Keep an Eye on the Events’ Section on Facebook
I am totally in love with the Events section on Facebook. It automatically suggests events which are taking place nearby.
On a desktop computer, you can access Events from your Facebook’s Home page. On a mobile, click on the icon with the three lines in the top right-hand corner of your Home page and then scroll down the list until you reach Events.
Then you can browse through the different events taking place nearby and make your selection based on distance and time frame.
If a rainy day in Italy spoils your sightseeing plans, have a look at Events on Facebook in order to quickly find something fun to do nearby.
With Kids: You can scroll through the many events to see which ones are suitable for children. You can even post a comment on the event’s page to ask the organisers any particular queries you may have.
Getting Ready for a Rainy Day in Italy – Practical Information and Tips
1. Does it rain in Italy?
Yes, it does.
On the outside Italy may seem like a paradise where the sun always shines, but believe me, it does rain here. In fact, it is raining right at this moment, while I am writing these words.
Different parts of Italy have different rainfall. It is a very long country, after all, so there are regional differences in terms of weather between the Italian North and the Italian South. Yet, the wettest month in Italy over the last 20 years has consistently been November with an average rainfall of 101.3 mm.
Rain can also take you by surprise in April, May, September, and October.
2. Does it snow in Italy?
Yes, it does.
Sorry to break your illusions or something. It does snow in Italy, especially in the mountains in the North and the Centre of the country. On rare occasions, it even snows in Sicily (I mean all over the island, not just on top of its mountains). It’s more like white dust that disappears rather quick, but still…
When it snows in places like Venice and Rome – which, admittedly, doesn’t happen that often and the snow is often gone within a day or two – people get really crazy and go out specifically to take photos to plaster all over social media. I may have done the same in Venice a few years back. In fact, just look at the photo above. Snow in Venice!
3. How to find out in advance if it will be raining and/or snowing during my visit to Italy?
4. What is the rain etiquette in Italy?
Italians like using golf-sized umbrellas to shield themselves from the rain.
Although quite inconvenient on a narrow historical pavement when you have to pass by someone holding an equally large umbrella, I love these huge umbrellas for the protection they provide from the rain for the whole of your body and bag. Huddled underneath one, I can happily go for a long walk in the rain through empty streets deserted from tourists and locals.
Yes, locals don’t like the rain too much. Apparently, I’ve been told, Italian ladies don’t like the rain messing up their carefully coiffed hair. Also, I haven’t seen people here using waterproofs on the same scale as in England. Mostly, when it rains, people here tend to stay in (based on my personal experience).
You can see one very curious sight on a rainy day in Italy: cyclists holding with one hand a large umbrella over their head while steering the bike with the other. At the start of my life in Italy, this used to really take me by surprise but not anymore. Cyclists here often use one hand or no hands at all, so if they need an umbrella open over their head in the rain, who am I to judge?! Although, the other day, in the rain, we saw a gentleman who was holding an umbrella in one hand and scrolling through his mobile phone with the other. His eyes were not on the road. I judged him a bit but that’s mainly because he came too close for comfort to our car.
There is one important thing about what to do with a wet umbrella in Italy. You should not take it with you inside shops, cafes, museums or other such enclosed spaces under any circumstances.
Instead, search for the umbrella holder placed in front or by the door. Everyone needs to place their umbrella there before walking in. Once or twice I have seen plastic sheets being provided for people to put their wet umbrellas in. But in 99.99% of the cases, I have personally witnessed, people leave their umbrellas in a large pot by the door.
It’s incredible, but in almost five years here I have had my umbrella stolen only once. Of all the possible places, it happened in the former nursery of my child! Otherwise, I have left my umbrella by the doors of countless cafes, museums, shops, etc. and have always found it there on the way out. Still, my personal experience so I can’t guarantee that your experience will be the same.
So, these are my personally tried and tested 21 suggestions for things to do on a rainy day in Italy with or without kids. I hope that you enjoyed them and that at least a few of them will come very useful next time that it rains here in Italy.
Is there anything else you would add to this list?! Let me know in the Comments section below.
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