May in Italy is officially considered part of the high summer season. It wasn’t always this way, but as word got round about the beautiful weather, flocks of tourists starting heading here. While there may be crowds and slightly higher prices, visiting Italy in May in sincerely worth it. The countryside is in bloom and the weather is beautiful from top to bottom. Many people say that May isn’t as hot as summer and that the crowds aren’t as bad as the summer months either. So, although May is a hot tourist time in Italy, it still has some plus sides. If you’re visiting Italy in May and looking for the best things to see and do, check out our list:
Italy Weather In May
May in Italy is definitely warm. The temperatures can get up quite high, but more often than not, the temperatures aren’t as bad as the hot summer months. Early May tends to have weather that is more manageable, especially in the north. The further south you go, expect hotter temperatures even in the beginning of the month. Make sure to pack a bathing suit because you’ll be able to swim in many places around the country. And, be prepared with something slightly warmer as the nights can become cool. Lastly, keep an umbrella around because May can be slightly rainy depending on where you are.
Temperatures, on average, are:
Northern Italy: 10-21°C
Central Italy: 13-21°C
Southern Italy: 16-24°C
Italy Festivals and Events in May
Taking place on May 1st, May Day is celebrated nationwide. It’s a public holiday and is quite similar to Labor Day in America. Since most people have the day off, you’ll find Italians relaxing any way that they can. Expect quite a few concerts, public demonstrations and protests, and families out enjoying nature. It’s a day that was started in order to recognize and honor the labor of the Italian workforce. Some businesses and attractions may be closed on May Day so make sure to plan ahead.
This massive bike race is on par with the Tour de France. It lasts an entire month beginning in May and takes place in the countryside. Catching a glimpse of the bike ride can be great fun, especially because of its scenic location. Grab some wine and snacks and join the crowds in cheering on the cyclists.
Night of Museums
Taking place on a Saturday in the middle of May, many of Italy’s museums stay open late and host unique events. Admission is often free, giving you the chance to see various museums on a budget. Italy is brimming with museums, so there is sure to be one participating wherever you end up traveling. Make sure to do some research ahead of time so you can plan which museums you want to visit according to the deals and workshops they’re offering.
Meaning, ‘Open Cantinas,’ this country-wide festival focuses on wine. It takes place during the last weekend in May, and includes special events and tastings from wineries and cantinas all over the country. You’ll need to do some research beforehand to find out which places near you offer this event. You’ll be sure to find something regardless of where you are. It’s a great way to meet new people, taste new wine, and feel like a local for a few nights.
The Flower Festival of Bucchianico
Located in Abruzzo, the flower festival is known for its colors and beauty. The festival takes place in preparation for a feast for the patron saint, St. Urban. Everyone from the town gathers to reenact the military events and parade that took place in the 13th century. The procession includes 300 women balancing bouquets of flowers on their heads. You’ll find the flower festival taking place on the third Sunday in May.
Il Palio di Ferrara
Taking place in the region of Emilia Romagna, this festival includes a historic horse race that dates back to 1279. It can be seen on the last Sunday in May, and features various events, parades, and a flag throwing contest. There’s also an impressive parade of more than 1,000 people dressed up in Renaissance clothing, all heading to the town’s castle.
Medieval Parade and Jousting Tournament
Want to see a replica of an authentic, Medieval town? Just visit Grazzano Visconti. It’s a beautiful site to see any time of the year but in May, you can witness a jousting tournament that fits the scene. It takes place on the last Sunday in May and is so close to the real thing that you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
The Risotto Festival
Foodies will love the Risotto Festival which takes place in Piedmont each year on the first Sunday in May. The entire festival is meant to celebrate the creamy rice dish, Risotto, which dates back to the 13th century. Visitors will be treated to a display of artwork, music, and lots and lots of Risotto of course. Wander the food stalls and try all different takes on this classic but timeless dish.
Taking place in Piedmont, this three-day festival is a reenactment of a traditional, Roman festival. It’s held on the last weekend in May and features chariot races, a gladiator battle, feasts, and parades. If you’re into history and want to experience Roman culture first-hand, this is definitely the festival to do it.
Did you love this Disney movie when you were a kid? If so, you can join an entire town in celebrating it together. It’s celebrated in Collodi, which is also the pen name of the author who wrote the children’s story. The festival is great for kids and even parents who want to try out some of the Tuscan wine and food that can be found amongst the region.
Located in the Umbrian town of Assisi, this festival is all about Medieval and Renaissance times. It takes place in early May and is made up of concerts, dances, theater performances, flag-waving displays, crossbow, and archery. Majority of the festival-goers will be dressed in traditional clothing too.
Festa della Sensa
This festival is held 40 days after Easter (which is often in May) in Venice. During this festival, the people of Venice celebrate the city’s marriage to the sea many years prior. During this time, the Doge threw a gold ring into the water in order to unite Venice and the sea. Today, the festival reenacts this act after a small regatta race. There is also a giant fair that takes place during this time as well.
What To See / Do in Italy in May
Between the rolling hills and the stunning vineyards, Tuscany is an absolute gem during the springtime. The area is a natural wonderland and May is the exact time when it all comes alive. If you can hire a car, spend some time visiting the different towns and small cities around Tuscany. The area is known for its food scene so stop off at as many restaurants and wineries as you have time for. Chianti is famous in this area so make sure to get yourself a bottle to drink while watching the sunset over the picturesque, Tuscan hills. Try setting up a cooking class while in Tuscany too. Pasta making is a great skill to learn and you can find a great course while visiting this food-centric part of Italy.
Trek Up Mt. Vesuvius
Since May typically isn’t as hot and humid as the summer months, it’s a great time for trekking. Mt. Vesuvius is a must-visit while in Italy, so why not see it from all angles. This mountain is famous for covering the town of Pompeii in volcanic ash, killing most of the villagers, and preserving some of them. If you’re visiting the town of Pompeii to learn about the history, you can make a day trip to trek up the famous mountain as well. Climb up to the crater and take a peek at what looks similar to another planet. The views from the top are incredible so make sure to pack a camera.
Take A Road Trip Around Cinque Terre
The warm spring weather is great for road tripping. Spend some time exploring the various towns and natural areas of Cinque Terre. Take in the views, stop off for gelato, and catch a sunset while enjoying a glass of wine. You can visit the small but beautiful, Cinque Terre National park, or go hiking on the Footpath Monterosso. Take a boat tour, or visit some of the historic buildings like Church of San Francesco.
Visit Lake Como
It’s a destination of the rich and famous for a reason; because it’s drop dead gorgeous. A beautiful spring day was meant to be spent at Lake Como where you can relax on the water with a picnic and a glass of wine. While you certainly don’t have to spend a fortune in this luxury destination, you may want to put aside some funds to at least have one good meal. There are a few budget hotels if you want to visit on the cheap, and more luxury options if you want to go all out.
Wander Around Rome
There’s a ton to see and do in Rome when the weather is nice. Between the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, there is plenty of history to be learned in the open air. Spend some time exploring Rome’s most famous sites like the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain while the weather is still relatively warm instead of scorching hot. Palatine Hill is a great place to catch some views of Rome while learning a bit about the history along the way. Take a day or two to wander around Vatican City, and pop into the museums if the weather is especially hot. You can see the Sistine Chapel and the Gallery of Maps, which are definite highlights.
Take a Boat Trip Along The Amalfi Coast
Spring weather is even better when experiencing it from a boat. The Amalfi Coast is one of the most scenic places in Italy for a boat ride, so make sure to organize a tour for yourself and your family. The tours usually come with food and drink and will take you around to some of the area’s top sites. It’s a luxurious way to see some of the best views in Italy.
Hike up Stromboli
No, not the stromboli that you eat. This mountain is located in Sicily, and is one of the best treks around. It’s technically an active volcano and spews clouds of smoke and ash. You can climb part of the ways up yourself but will need a guide to help you once you get closer to the crater. If you want to see everything, you’re in for about a six-hour trek. However, the stunning views are certainly worth the hike, especially if you’re a fan of the outdoors.
Get Lost in Venice
It’s easy to get lost in Venice but you’ll seriously want to once you see it. The cobblestone streets and hidden courtyards makes this place seem enchanting. Follow the small alleyways to quaint cafes that have incredible coffee. Do some people watching at the Grand Canal, pop into hidden art exhibits, and watch the gondolas row by as you cross the many bridges. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors, eat authentic, Italian food, and watch the world go by.
Visit The Beaches in Puglia
The beaches in Puglia, especially in Lecce, are beautiful and perfect for relaxing. The weather in May is typically warm enough to hit the sand and do some sunbathing. Take a dip in the sea, do some snorkeling, or just take in the scene around you. There won’t be as many crowds as there are later in the summer so take advantage of some serenity on a gorgeous, Italian beach.
May in Italy is a great time to visit. The weather is warm and the flowers are in full bloom. Sure, you may be sharing the tourist attractions with others, but the gorgeous scenery and pleasant temperatures will make it worth it. Between the exciting holidays and events, and Italy’s abundance of attractions, you’ll certainly never be bored.