Italy is a country of extremely varied landscapes and consequently experiences a similarly varied climate. Between the north and south there can be a considerable difference in temperature, particularly during the winter. In Milan it could be −2°C and snowing, while at the same time 8°C in Rome and 20°C in Palermo. The differences are less extreme in the summer.
The coastal regions, where most of the large towns are located, have a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot and generally dry summers. The length and intensity of the summer dry season increases towards the south. The coastal areas throughout Italy experience largely similar conditions from north to south with mild winters and hot, dry summers. The western side of the country experiences more rain than the eastern side which is windier, especially north of Pescara where Italy is subject to the strong, Bora wind that gusts across the Adriatic from Central Europe.
In contrast to the settled days of summer, the weather throughout Italy can be very changeable in the autumn, winter and spring. This unpredictable weather can continue until the end of May and can start anytime after the beginning of September. The winter months tend to alternate between clouds and rain and warmer, sunnier weather.
Inland, throughout the peninsula, the weather is often colder and wetter with frequent snow on the mountains during the winter.
In the extreme north, the climate can drop to below freezing in the winter and rise to 30° in the summer. This is a similar climate to that of Alpine Switzerland and Austria, although the Italian side tends to experience more precipitation and also slightly warmer weather in both summer and winter. In this area, summer tends to be the rainiest season and thunderstorms are frequent in spring, summer, and autumn. Lower down, the lake area in Lombardy tends to experience the mildest winter weather and the warmest, sunniest summers. Sunshine levels here are around 3 to 4 hours a day in the winter and around 9 hours a day in the summer.
The area of the Po valley and the Padan Plain has its own distinctive climate and can experience rain at any time through the year. Although the winter months can be surprisingly cold, and can experience fog, frost and snow, the summer months can be almost as hot and sunny as southern Italy. Thunderstorms are frequent in the summer and autumn but the rain falls infrequently.
The south of the country, particularly Sardinia and Sicily, can get very hot indeed, with long periods of settled weather and continuous sunshine. During the daytime, sea breezes can lower the temperatures on the coast, but in the evening and overnight it can be extremely hot and humid, especially inland. As can be imagined, the south of Italy has the least rain and the most hours of sunshine of any other area in Italy. In Sardinia and Sicily, there is an average of 4 hours of sunshine a day during the winter and 9 hours a day in the summer.