January in Florence/Venice

Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 08:41 PM
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January in Florence/Venice

We are considering a 2-2.5 week trip to Italy in early January. Aside from cold weather and rain, any particular issues traveling to Florence and Venice from Jan 3-20 or so?
newtome is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 10:34 PM
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We love Italy in January and February. It has not been too cold for us considering we live some place really warm. The big plus is, Italy is not crowded at all.
The downside is, it gets dark early.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 11:38 PM
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The risk of experiencing signifcant tidal flooding in Venice is higher January than at other times of year, but you can avoid most of the impact by not booking a hotel in the areas that typically get flooded. You can find maps online, but generally speaking if you stay in the area between the Rialto Bridge and the train station you will be okay. If Venice has a high "acqua alta" while you are there it will usually only last a couple of hours in only some parts of town, so you can go sightseeng in the dry parts of town until it is over. But you don't want to be trying to move luggage in and out of a hotel located in one of the areas whose walkways often get submerged.

It can also snow in Venice and Florence in January, not just rain. In Florence, it can snow more heavily than it does in Venice and require appropriate footwear.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 02:53 AM
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I think that's a really nice time of year to go. What people are saying about weather and shoes is true but it's also true that it's emptier and cheaper at that time of year which makes it good too. If you're used to really cold weather then the weather there will be a nice break.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 03:50 AM
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Something else to be aware of is that Jan 3-6 is still a holiday period in Italy, so prices won't drop until after that, and through the 7th, trains and other things that need to be reserved should be booked early. One year I planned a trip to Rome starting after Jan 2, but then moved by trip back to begin Jan 10 when I saw how much cheaper lodgings would be.

If you are used to really really cold weather (by my standards), the Florence and Venice might feel like a break even if it snows. But you can see that actual temps for Firenze in January can dip to frigid, with windy and stormy days


There's plenty to do and see indoors in these places, but tourists typically spend more time outdoors than residents do, in Venice in particular, where there are no car rides to be had! So even if you are "used to cold weather", super warm socks and other accessories to keep cozy are really worth packing.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 09:00 AM
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It will be museum weather. But neither Venice nor Florence are short of museums. As said be aware that days are short, so plan the outdoor activities before 4 p.m. Don't worry about floods Venice - they are prepared for that and have wooded causeways for this purpose.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 09:14 AM
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Trying to move luggage around the "wooded causeways" of Venice is not easy, especially if you are trying to catch a train or flight. It is easier to book someplace away from the flood zones.

As you can see, the elevated walkways are not wide and they are often crowded. Trying to move along with rolling luggage or a heavy backpack is not optimal, especially if it is also raining.

sandralist is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 10:39 AM
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You need to be aware of two things:

Days will be very short and often gray (snow is possible but not at all likely)

Some sights may be open shorter hours than they are in the summer - so you need to check this when making plans for the day

Also - in Venice do NOT stay in a hotel in an area that floods
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 10:46 AM
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How much later in the year would you have to wait to have a good chance of no flooding in Venice?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 10:58 AM
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"Do not stay in Venice in an area that floods." That is meaningless advice, unless you acquaint yourself with the topography of Venice. One hundred millimetres in elevation outside the front door of your chosen hotel can make a profound (as in acqua profunda) difference to your footware.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:38 AM
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The flooding in Venice is mostly tidal and most likely to happen in November and December, but wind and rain also play a part at any time of year. The greatest chances for any flooding are at the new and full moon phases. In January 2016, the new moon will occur at 2:30 a.m. on the 10th and the full moon will occur at 2:45 a.m. on the 24th. Since the water rises for a few hours and then drains away, it's not likely the normal tidal flow will impact your visit.


This map shows walkways that almost always remain above the flooding (green lines) and elevated walkways erected for pedestrians to traverse low/flooded areas (red lines).

Jean is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 02:13 PM
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I'm too lazy to dig up picture after picture of significant high tides occuring in January in Venice, and tourists wading knee deep through them, but if the risks are "lower" than in Nov or Dec, they are only marginally lower at best. Climate change and other impacts on Venice in the past 20 years means that you take your chances on a bad experience booking a hotel in the flood zones in January. Looking at moon schedules is not going to save you if there is a storm. The map is helpful. Stay in a reliably dry area in January.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 02:33 PM
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Thank you sandralist. I thought Venice in the winter sounded wonderful. I was hoping by waiting until February or March it would be OK. But seems like that is not that case.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 03:27 PM
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We spend 5 days over New Year's in Venice. We had one day with a few flakes flying around and the rest were brilliant sun. For people like us who live in really cold and snowy climates, it was absolutely fine because there was no snow and ice to contend with when walking around. We walked and walked and also visited many of the museums etc. No aqua alta either. Then, a few years later we made a return trip for a week in May. There was aqua alta, and it definitely made walking around much more difficult trying to navigate around it. Just buy a pair of knee high boots like the residents have, and you'll be fine because you can wade.

On the New Year's trip we took the train down to Rome and we definitely saw places with snow on the ground. I know you are not talking Rome, but when we were there the second week in January we were told that is one of the absolutely slowest tourist weeks of the year. We walked right in to the Vatican Museum without any wait. I am assuming Florence probably has a similar situation.

Go for the winter trip.

Hope this helps.
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