Here we are, sitting in the shadow of a big elm tree. Not really doing anything just suffering and trying to move as little as possible. The temperature is 32° Celcius, 90 Fahrenheit and it makes your thoughts evolve slooowly. Just reflecting and thinking about the Venice weather and the Venice climate makes you sweat. It’s that hard. And here’s why…
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The Venice weather, the climate is not nice. It is cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Nothing strange about that but it is colder and warmer than in many other places in Italy. And the blame falls heavily on the humidity.
Venice weather in the summer
Ok, we know Venice is damp. There is water under the city and water in the canals around the houses. The water also falls from above and it flows in from the sea at high tide. So Venice is a damp city, nothing new under the sun.
But Venice is also located in the northeastern corner of the mighty Po Valley, the largest plain in the whole of the European Mediterranean. The Po Valley, Pianura Padana, was created after the last ice age of sediment from melting water. It has a large river in the middle, namely Po, and lots of smaller rivers flowing in from the north and the south. Between the rivers, there are canals for distributing water to agriculture. Because the Po Valley is amazingly fertile. Everything grows here and it grows fast under the hot sun in the rich and moist soil.
And that’s fine … We have something to eat.
It’s just that the very high humidity of the whole Po area as well as the wetness of the floating city, makes life unbearable at times. The moisture makes the cold feel colder and the heat feels hotter.
If the temperature is 30 ° Celsius, 86 ° Fahrenheit, and the humidity increases, then the subjective perception of the heat increases too. Let’s imagine that we are sitting by the sea and there’s a nice breeze and the relative humidity is 50%, then it feels just like 30 °, 86 °. But if we leave the beach and walk back to Venice, sneak in between the houses, the sun’s still there but there’s no wind anymore and the humidity rises to 90% … Then the subjective temperature is suddenly 41 ° Celsius, 106 ° Fahrenheit.
That’s what often happens in the evening. In the middle of the day, the temperature is 32 ° / 90 °. It’s hot but still bearable. In the evening when you lie down in the warm and uncomfortable bed, the humidity rises to 95%. Although the temperature is a bit lower… let’s say 29 ° / 84 °, the subjective heat is 39 °, and now it is getting painful. You get up, open the fridge and grab an ice-cold Peroni. Then you sit down by the window, open the bottle cap but realize that just the effort to lift the beer bottle to your mouth makes you sweat even more.
So what do you do about this?
Because there are a few ways to cope with the summer temperatures.
- Stay in the right place. Airconditioning is the keyword. Choose a hotel with air conditioning and you will at least sleep well. Although in Italy it’s considered unhealthy to shoot too much cold air around. Maybe rightfully so, but I always prefer sleeping to avoiding getting a cold. If for some reason you don’t have air conditioning, then staying at the bottom floor is always cooler, staying at the beach at Lido or Cavallino is cooler and having air flowing through the room is cooler even if the air is hot. Open the windows. Just make sure they have mosquito nets, otherwise, you won’t sleep because of the mosquitos.
- Move as little as possible. The humid air penalizes moving. If you’re absolutely still then you will suffer less. Now that’s difficult cause you’ve come to Venice for the attractions, but still, take a lot of breaks, drink a lot, and walk slowly on the shadow side.
- Get someone to invite you to an Altana, the famous Venetian rooftop terrace. Up there it’s definitely better. And the view is nice.
- Don’t come in the summer. This is the best advice of them all. Instead of summer, come in spring or autumn, or even in winter. Summer isn’t a good time to visit Venice. It’s not a good time to visit any city in the warm part of the world but Venice is a particularly poor choice in the hot season.
Venice weather in the winter
Ok, it’s not only for the summer weather the humidity is an important factor. Even in winter, there are a few things to be aware of. The relative humidity actually doesn’t have very much of an impact on the subjective temperature when the air is cold. Hot air, yes, but when it’s cold, the atmosphere around us can’t hold very much humidity anyway, so it isn’t significant. But… If you yourself get wet, then that’s a totally different story. And in Venice in winter there’s the rain, the fog, and the high waters.
The biggest threat, I would say, is the rain. Not that it rains on you but when the water comes down it stays on the top of the ground. The pavements of Venice are all floor tiles made of trachyte. And the stone blocks aren’t flat. So when it rains you have a myriad of puddles on the ground, irregular, deep, and very difficult to avoid. If you wet your feet, then you’re in trouble. So what do you do about it?
Obviously, you wear waterproof shoes or rubber boots… Together with the warm jacket, gloves, and a warm cap you’ll be OK.
The wind is a cooling factor though. When it’s freezing outside, every tiny increase in wind force increases the feeling of cold. So wear not only a warm jacket but a warm and windproof jacket.
The Mediterranean climate
Another big issue is the Adriatic sea. If you look at the map you see that the eastern sea is a rather closed basin. In the south, there is a little opening between Italy and Albania but it isn’t much. It’s less deep too. Much shallower than the rest of the Mediterranean and these two facts make the Adriatic less temperature storing. In winter the water is cold. On occasions, the lagoon freezes.
On the border with France on the other side of the Peninsula, you can sometimes go swimming even in December. If you do that in Venice, you better have good health insurance.
An hour and a half with a car going north you find Dolomiti Superski. That’s 1200 kilometers, 750 miles of slopes, 450 ski lifts, and 3000 square kilometers, 1150 square miles of ski area. About half of it is directly connected but the whole system features one single ski pass. 97% of it is covered with artificial snow capacity.
On the coast towards the northeast, an hour by car, there are a few of the biggest seaside resorts in Europe, Jesolo, Cavallino-Treporti, Caorle, Bibione, etc. The touristic capacity is enormous and around 25 million people go there every year, more or less the same numbers as Venice.
This is another effect of the big differences in temperature in summer and winter.
So, maybe the Venice weather isn’t all that bad, after all?