When you are traveling to Italy, time changes. Of course, there’s a change of time zones, which is considerable if you’re coming from North America. There are also subtle adjustments regarding the lifestyle of Italians and how they regard time on a daily basis. Italy conducts business in a different way than North America and it can take some time to get used to.
Italy runs on a 24-hour clock. To calculate, you add 12 hours to anything after noon. Similar to military time, 5:00pm thus reads as 1700 hours. It’s good to get comfortable with this, since you’ll see or hear this everywhere – train schedules, shop closing times, restaurant reservations, or conversing with locals.
Hours of operation will vary by the business, but here are some fairly typical guidelines. Offices and banks open for the day at 8:30am, while most stores open about 9:00am. Many businesses will close for a late lunch/siesta break about 1pm (1300), or 130pm (1330), and then reopen around 3-4pm. Offices and banks are open Monday to Friday, while stores are open Monday through Saturday.
Except for holidays and typical festivals, Sundays are the only day that most shops are closed. The Italian week begins with Monday unlike in North America where it is Sunday. Learning the days of the week in Italian are helpful when talking to residents, or reading signs in the window of a shop or restaurant. The days of the week are not capitalized in Italian and are as follows:
- lunedi – Monday
- martedi – Tuesday
- mercoledi – Wednesday
- giovedi – Thursday
- venerdi – Friday
- sabato – Saturday
- domenica – Sunday
Months & Seasons:
The weather in Italy is quite diverse depending on the season and where you are in the country. If you are visiting during the winter season (l’inverno), you can experience ice storms and below freezing weather mostly in the southern region. Many tourists and residents alike will go to the Alps for their winter vacations. Spring (la primavera) in Italy is remarkably beautiful and there is even an Italian pasta dish that carries the name of spring due to its seasonal fresh vegetables (pasta primavera).
Summer (l’estate) in Italy can be remarkably hot no matter where you are in the country. Many residents will take the entire month of August off in order to try and find cooler places to be such as the local beaches or mountains.Autumn (l’autunno) is a fantastic time to visit Italy when the harvesting season is in full swing for the grapes and olives. Autumn is a low tourist season and yet, one of the most beautiful times to visit.
The months of the year are not capitalized in Italian either. Close to standardized English, it is very easy for a tourist to learn the names in Italian and is listed as follows:
- gennaio – January
- febbraio – February
- marzo – March
- aprile – April
- maggio – May
- giugno – June
- luglio – July
- agosto – August
- settembre – September
- ottobre – October
- novembre – November
- dicembre – December
November, December and January are low tourist seasons due to the cooler temperatures and the rainy season in many areas. January can bring freezing cold temperatures that are not desirable for traveling around Italy and sightseeing as you would during the spring or autumn months. If you are traveling on a budget, these times would be the cheapest for travel, except during the week before and after the Christmas holidays.
No matter what time of the year that you decide to travel to Italy, you will want to check out the festivals, holidays and local events of the region where you are going, so you know what to expect when you arrive. Most major cities are focused around tourism and you won’t have many problems finding places to shop or eat in major centers, even on major holidays. But if you plan on venturing off the beaten track, then an unexpected holiday during your stay could impact your ability to see or do what you want.
For a great translation reference, either English to Italian or vice versa, check out WordReference.