Q – We had friends in town visiting who have been to Italy a number of times. They were quite surprised that we were visiting Italy on a tour that has us going to Venice in late September. They said that visiting Venice at that time is the worst in terms of water levels? And they said the weather wasn’t the best.
We are sure that our agent and the tour company checks on all of this but was wondering if you have any thoughts on that?
A – Although weather patterns in Europe are going through some serious changes, May and September are generally regarded as the very best months to visit. Personally, we like the first two weeks in October. Venice is best enjoyed when most of the tourists have gone and the temps. have cooled off.
Several years ago, the Italian police set up roadblocks at the train station and the airport to prevent tourists from coming into the city in July and August because of severe overcrowding.
Last year, Italy had its hottest summer since records were kept.
Rains can produce flooding in portions of Venice at any time so it is not easy to predict although we try to stay away from bookings guests there from November through February when flooding is most serious.
Many great writers have commented on the fact that Venice is best appreciated in the rain. That is when we like it best because the streets are less crowded in the off season.
The truth is that if we were just going to Venice instead of a comprehensive Italy tour, we would almost want to push it back a few weeks. The incredible crowds, now including huge numbers of Russian, Chinese, and Indian visitors, makes navigating difficult in the so-called “prime season months” of June, July, and August.
You have not made a mistake. The summer heat is brutal when combined with the crowds.
We have always hoped to be in Venice during a period of major flooding but we’ve not yet achieved that. If we did, we would send the same postcard to all of our friends that the humorist Robert Benchley sent many years ago:
“In Venice. City Sinking. Please Advise.”
“The quality of Venice that accomplishes what religion so often cannot is that Venice has made peace with the waters. It is not merely pleasant that the sea flows through, grasping the city like tendrils of vine, and, depending upon the light, making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire, Citi s a brave acceptance of dissolution and an unflinching settlement with death. Though in Venice you may sit in courtyards of stone, and your heels may click up marble stairs, you cannot move without riding upon or crossing the waters that someday will carry you in dissolution to the sea.”
― Mark Helprin,