When traveling in Italy, like it or not, weather conditions can be a concern. We like to imagine Italy being sunny and beautiful all the time, but purtroppo (unfortunately), especially these days, the weather can be capriccioso (mischievous) and imprevidibile (unpredictable). As a result, knowing how to talk about the weather like an Italian can be not only useful for obtaining information, but provides a great topic for small talk.
In Italian, the verb of choice when talking about the weather is fare (to make). Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? Keep in mind that tempo means both “time” and “weather” so be prepared to get confused sometimes. If you want to talk about today’s weather, then just add oggi (today):
Che tempo fa oggi? (What’s the weather like today?)
An answer might be:
Oggi c'è un bel tempo, un bel sole.
Today there's nice weather, nice sun.Play Caption
And when talking about tomorrow, we use the future tense of the verb fare:
Che tempo farà domani? (What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?)
So our basic question is Che tempo fa? What’s the weather doing? What’s the weather like? That's good to know, and an important question to be able to ask, but when we're making conversation, we might start with a statement, to share the joy, or to commiserate.
We can start out generally, talking about the quality of the day itself.
Che bella giornata (what a beautiful day).
Che brutta giornata (what a horrible day).
After that, we can get into specifics.
Tip: In English, we use adjectives such as: sunny, rainy, muggy, and foggy, but in Italian, in many cases, it’s common to use noun forms, rather than adjectives, as you will see.
Fa freddo (it’s cold)! Note that we (mostly) use the verb fare (to make) here, not essere (to be)
Fa caldo (it’s hot)!
Piove (it’s raining). Italians also use the present progressive tense as we do in English, (sta piovendo) but not necessarily!
Nevica (it’s snowing).
C’è il sole (it’s sunny).
È coperto (it’s cloudy, the skies are grey).
È nuvoloso (it’s cloudy).
C’è la nebbia (it’s foggy).
C’è l’afa (it’s muggy).
Piove. T'accompagno a casa?
It's raining. Shall I take you home?
Caption 3, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 14Play Caption
Il clima, eh... essendo la Lombardia quasi tutta pianura, abbiamo estati molto afose e inverni molto rigidi. Ma la caratteristica principale è la presenza costante della nebbia.
The climate, uh... as Lombardy is almost all flatlands, we have very muggy summers and very severe winters. But the main characteristic is the constant presence of fog.
Captions 70-73, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla LombardiaPlay Caption
We have the adjective chiaro that means "clear" and so when we want to clear something up we can use the verb chiarire (to clear up). We are speaking figuratively in this case.
Incominciamo col chiarire una cosa: è per te, o è per tua madre?
Let's start by clearing up one thing. Is it for you, or is it for your mother?
Caption 8, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 5Play Caption
But chiaro also means "light in color."
Ci sono di tutti i tipi: maschi, femmine, occhi chiari, occhi scuri.
There are all kinds: males, females, blue [pale] eyed, dark eyed.
Caption 63, Un Figlio a tutti i costi film - Part 17Play Caption
When the sky is clearing up, we don't use the verb chiarire. We use the prefix s and chiarire becomes schiarire (to make lighter or brighter [with more light] in color). It can refer not only to color but also sound. It's often expressed in its reflexive form.
Il cielo si sta schiarendo (the sky is clearing up).
Al centro invece, abbiamo nebbia anche qui dappertutto, con qualche schiarita, ma nebbia a tutte le ore.
Towards the center on the other hand, we have fog all over, here as well, with some clearing, but fog at all hours.
Captions 58-59, Anna e Marika in TG Yabla Italia e Meteo - Part 10Play Caption
There's more to say about the weather and how to talk about it in Italian, but that will be for another lesson.