November (Novembre) is the height of the low tourist season in Italy. One of the main reasons for this is because the weather is typically cold and rainy throughout the peninsula. But if you’re willing to endure grey days, November can be a fantastic time to be here. Fewer tourists means it is easier to get a sense of everyday life. Not to mention, museums are emptier, cafes are cozier, and airfare is often cheaper.
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November in Italy: Holidays, Festivals, and Other Events
November 1 and 2 – Ognissanti or All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
November 1 is All Saints’ Day in Italy, a day on which the Christian faithful honor saints and martyrs by, for example, attending mass or visiting churches. As it is a pubic holiday, this is also day on which Italians take it easy and/or visit friends and family. November 1 precedes All Souls’ Day (November 2), a day on which Italians remember friends and relatives who have passed away. November 2 is not typically set aside as a holiday, however. So many use November 1 as a chance to visit the cemetery and lay flowers on the graves of loved ones.
November 4 – Day of National Unity and of the Armed Forces
The day known also as La Festa dell Unità e delle Forze Armate is a day that Italy commemorates its victory in World War I. It is a day on which the President of Italy lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Milite Ignoto), at the Vittorio Emanuele Monument in Rome. Other fanfare can be found outside the presidential palace on the Quirinale with the changing of the guard, among other events and military commemorations throughout the country.
November 4 is an important date in Italian history. But it’s not particularly celebrated with vigor across the country. For example, November 4 isn’t a public holiday but it is often celebrated in conjunction with the November 1 holiday depending on how the days appear in the yearly calendar. For example, If November 1 falls on Friday and November 4 on Monday, schools, government offices, and other businesses may choose to make a long holiday of it.
November 21 – Festa della Madonna della Salute, Venice
One of the most important dates on the Venetian calendar is November 21, the day on which Venice commemorate the end of plague in 1631. The Basilica della Madonna della Salute (Holy Mary of Health) was built in honor of the Virgin Mary who Venetians believed finally delivered them from the epidemic that killed more than 80,000 (more than the current population of Venice). Venetians still pay homage to Mary on this day by visiting the church and their pilgrimage is made easier thanks to a temporary footbridge built across the Grand Canal for the occasion.
Late November – Christmas Markets
The third or fourth weeks of November mean the arrival of Christmas markets in many towns and cities throughout Italy. The largest and best Christmas markets tend to appear in northern Italy, in cities like Trento and Bolzano. Florence and Milan also hold lovely Christmas markets, where you can purchase artisan crafts, including ornaments, gourmet foodstuffs, and vin brulé.
Italy Magazine’s Top 10 Christmas Markets in Italy is a reliable resource for Christmas market ideas. Note, however, that Rome’s Christmas Market in Piazza Navona has, unfortunately, been inconsistent or nonexistent for the last several years.