Italy in May is gorgeous. It’s a beautiful time to visit almost anywhere in Italy. In some places, it’s the best time to visit.
The rain and cooler weather of spring give way to more sunshine and warmer temperatures throughout the country.
Nature is on display – wildflowers are blooming, hillsides are vibrant green, and the lakes and seas are calling for us to jump back in (although the water still feels chilly!).
There are plenty of late-spring/early-summer festivals and events to keep you busy, and if you want to relax, you can sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo or even sunbathe in Southern Italy.
Of course, all of this brings crowds – May is the beginning of the high season in Italy. Lines are longer, prices are higher for accommodation and transport, and you won’t have any towns to yourself.
But, if you’re ok sharing beautiful Italy, I highly recommend a visit in May. Along with September, I think it’s the best month to visit. So, come on over – venite!
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In this post, you’ll learn…
- if visiting Italy in May is a good choice for you
- what weather to expect in Italy in May
- which holidays Italy celebrates in May and which days things are closed
- my recommended places to visit in May in Italy, including where to go with kids
- the best activities and events in Italy in May
- which foods to try in Italy in May
- what to wear on a trip to Italy in May
- the best ways to travel around Italy in May
If you’re looking for something specific, check out the Table of Contents below so you can jump ahead to what you’re looking for.
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Should You Visit Italy in May?
Here in Italy, we’re always ready for May. It’s the time of year everyone talks about – the countryside’s rolling green hills and blankets of red poppies, the vineyards with their new leaves, everyone heading to the beaches (even if the water is still chilly), sagre and festivals celebrating food and fun, and aperitivo on an outdoor patio – finally!
Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February
Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in October
Italy in November
Italy in December
5 Reasons You Should Visit Italy in May
- The weather is finally looking better, after a typically rainy, windy, and cool spring. Sure, we still get rain showers and temps can be cool (especially in the evenings and in the north), but for the most part, the poor weather has passed and we’re looking straight ahead to summer sunshine.
- One good thing about the spring rain – it hydrated the fields for Italian crops and now nature is on full display. The hillsides are a gorgeous green and red poppies and other wildflowers are blooming (but not sunflowers – those come in the summer).
- The nice weather also brings everyone out to celebrate. May in Italy is full of festivals and events throughout the peninsula.
- You can finally dine outdoors. Have lunch in a bustling piazza, dinner on a quiet side street, or aperitivo at an outdoor rooftop bar. Salute!
- Beach clubs are open and the temperatures make sunbathing a possibility – especially in the south. The water is still chilly, but many jump in anyway!
Good To Know: It’s always best to reserve tickets for any museums or events you don’t want to miss. Many museums limit entry numbers so you’ll want to book in advance. I always recommend booking advance tickets to popular sites:
The Last Supper (Milan)
The Uffizi Gallery (Florence)
The Accademia (Florence)
The Colosseum (Rome)
The Vatican Museums (Rome)
4 Reasons You May Not Want To Visit Italy in May
- With the nicer weather, come more crowds – Italians, Europeans, and other visitors.
- With those crowds come the high season prices – flights and accommodation are more expensive.
- Sunbathing is possible in May, especially in Southern Italy, but the water can still be chilly – meaning you may not be able to swim quite yet.
- You’ll probably still find snow at higher elevations, meaning many hiking trails are still off-limits.
Good To Know: If you suffer from environmental allergies, be prepared and bring your favorite remedies if you visit Italy in May. All of the flowers, grasses, and plants are gorgeous – but they bring out the sneezes and itchy eyes!
Weather in Italy in May
May weather in Italy is typically beautiful.
Northern Italy is warming up but still can see snow at higher elevations. Temperatures hover around the 15°C mark (59°F).
Central Italy warms up quite a bit in May (especially in recent years). Temperatures are usually around 18° C (64°F).
Southern Italy is the warmest part of the country in May – it’s time for the beach! Temperatures tend to hover around 20°C (68°F).
Even with warmer temperatures during the day, most places in Italy still have chilly evenings, so don’t forget to pack your layers (jacket, warm sweater, etc)!
May is one of Italy’s rainiest months, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be spending your entire trip under an umbrella. Just be ready for occasional showers.
Don’t rely on historical weather data. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave!
|Milan||75°F / 24°C||57°F / 14°C||34.3mm||windiest month|
|Venice||72°F / 22°C||57°F / 14°C||30.4mm||windiest month|
|Florence||77°F / 25°C||55°F / 13°C||29.5mm|
|Rome||75°F / 24°C||54°F / 12°C||14.3mm|
|Naples||75°F / 24°C||57°F / 14°C||11.1mm|
|Palermo||73°F / 23°C||61°F / 16°C||6.5mm|
Holidays in Italy in May
May in Italy is light on holidays, but there are plenty of events and festivals that take place throughout the country.
Below I’ve noted when things may be closed. Opening days and hours vary by region and city.
May 1st – La Festa del Lavoro
More About La Festa del Lavoro
- Translation: Labor Day
- Also Called: Primo Maggio (the first of May)
- What It Celebrates: Similar to the United States and other countries around the world that celebrate Labor Day, Italy’s Festa del Lavoro celebrates workers’ economic and social achievements (like safe working conditions, paid leave, etc).
- What’s Going On: It’s a huge holiday honoring workers. It comes right after the Liberation Day holiday on April 25th, and many Italians make a longer holiday by joining the two.
- Families and friends gather together
- Italians spend time outside
- Huge concert in Rome with Italian and foreign musicians
- National Holiday: Yes
- Open/Closed: Most museums and attractions are closed. Workplaces and schools are closed. Restaurants may close or stay open for the holiday crowds. Transport is very limited.
- Reserve in Advance: You won’t be able to to do much today because so many things are closed. If you have a particular restaurant in mind for lunch or dinner, call ahead to reserve (and make sure it will be open).
- Good To Know: Expect large crowds and traffic on the days surrounding La Festa del Lavoro.
May (2nd Sunday) – La Festa della Mamma
More About La Festa della Mamma
- Translation: Mother’s Day
- What It Celebrates: Mom/Mamma!
- What’s Going On: Italians take a moment to honor their mothers
- Schoolchildren give gifts they made at school
- Mothers receive cards and flowers from family
- Kids may make a meal for mom, or the family will go out to eat
- National Holiday: No
- Open/Closed: It’s a normal Sunday
- Reserve in Advance: Some families go out to lunch or dinner, so reserve a restaurant
The 6 Best Places in Italy to Visit in May
|Location||What To Do|
|Florence & Tuscany||have dinner outdoors, take a day trip to the countryside|
|Sicily||make your way to the beach, sip on a granita|
|Rome||explore the Roman Forum in short-sleeves|
|Umbria||check out flower festivals in small villages|
|Italian Lakes||take a ferry around a lake, dine at a lakeside villa|
|Puglia & Matera||visit Matera without dripping in sweat, hit the beach|
|Honorable Mention – Amalfi Coast||take a boat ride along the coast, eat lemon gelato|
|Honorable Mention – Venice||eat cicchetti at a canal-side bar|
|Honorable Mention – Bolzano||meet the Ice Man, have lunch on Piazza Walther|
|Honorable Mention – Cinque Terre||hike between the five villages|
Florence and Tuscany in May
May is one of my favorite months in Tuscany (along with September).
If you’re visiting Florence, take advantage of the nice weather:
- Eat lunch or dinner outside
- Head to a rooftop bar for aperitivo
- Climb the Duomo or Giotto’s bell tower
- Visit museums like the Accademia and the Uffizi before they get toasty in the summer heat
- Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset or for strolling along the Arno.
The Tuscan countryside in May is dreamy, with its lush green hills, fields of red poppies, and warm, pleasant days. This is the month to:
- Rent a car in Florence and road trip on taken-from-a-postcard roads in Chianti, through the Crete Senesi, and in Southern Tuscany
- Visit gems of Northern Tuscany – The Chianti towns (Radda, Gaiole, Greve, Castellina, Panzano), Monteriggioni, Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Lucca
- Visit Southern Tuscany’s picturesque villages – Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Cortona, Bagno Vignoni
- Cycle through vineyards and green hills
- Join Tuscans as they head to the Tuscan coast (but avoid weekends if you want to stay away from crowds)
- Photograph some of Tuscany’s iconic cities and sites (like the Val d’Orcia cypresses and the Vitaleta chapel)
- Visit outdoor markets as they come back to life after winter
Sicily In May
Beach time in Sicily has arrived. Head there now before the crowds arrive in the peak summer season.
Explore Taormina, Siracusa, and Palermo and visit the island’s architectural and historical treasures before the scorching summer temperatures make outdoor sightseeing unpleasant.
It’s also a good time to visit the Aeolian Islands, off the north coast of Sicily. Watching Stromboli erupt against a starry evening sky from your boat in the sea – it’s an unforgettable experience.
Rome in May
If you’re a Type-A traveler and love to check things off your list, Rome in May is ok. The nice weather brings larger crowds, so you’ll spend more time waiting in lines and moving through other visitors at museums and sites. Instead of only sticking to the main sites like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, check out:
- the Domus Aurea
- the Terme di Caracalla (try to see an evening concert)
- Ostia Antica
- Centrale Montemartini (museum with ancient Roman and Greek sculptures in an old power plant)
If, however, you just want to soak up la vita bella (the beautiful life), make plans to visit Rome in May to:
- have lunch, dinner, and aperitivo outdoors on Roman piazzas or side streets
- window shop in the Monti neighborhood
- get a gelato at Fatamorgana and sit and watch Roman life pass you by
- go on a Vespa tour (only if you’re a confident driver!)
- go on a Roman food tour
Umbria in May
Like its big sister Tuscany, Umbria is in bloom – wildflowers and green grasses carpet the landscape.
Orvieto, Assisi, and Perugia are all worth a stop in May. Smaller villages like Bevagna and Spello draw in visitors with flower festivals (infiorata) and other events.
If you visit at the right time, the lentil fields of Norcia’s Piana di Castelluccio create a mosaic of colorful flowers. The transformation usually occurs between May and July. Even if the fields aren’t in full bloom, it’s still a majestic place to see.
Italian Lakes in May
May is one of the best months to visit the gardens of the gorgeous villas on the Italian Lakes, including Villa Balbianello, Villa Borromeo, and Villa Carlotta.
Take a boat ride from Stresa to Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore or Isola San Giulio on Lake Orta.
Mild weather makes for a pleasant ferry trip around the lake, and you can sit outside for aperitivo lakeside or in the villages.
You can also head up into the hills for hikes, and without the crowds that come later in the summer.
Good To Know: The Italian Lakes, and especially Lake Garda, are popular destinations for Northern Europeans. They arrive in large numbers (you’ll see the RVs!) in June and July. Visit in May before the crowds and costs increase. Just remember that the water will be too chilly for swimming!
Puglia and Matera in May
Visit Puglia’s charming whitewashed villages:
- Alberobello – wander the trulli-lined streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site
- Martina Franca
- Monopoli – relaxed Puglia living (make this your home-base)
- Polignano a Mare – head down to the oft-photographed Lama Monachile
- Trani – visit the best bakery in Italy (Lula)
You may or may not have sunny beach time, but you’ll have plenty to see in the area (the villages above) and the food (fresh produce, seafood, and mozzarella) in Puglia is incredible. I still think about cherries we’ve gotten from friends in Puglia in the past.
If you make it all the way down to Puglia, make a detour or a day-trip to Matera, the UNESCO World-Heritage Site of the city of sassi. The mild May weather makes exploring the town and hiking in the natural parks a pleasant experience – much more so than in the heat of summer.
Read more about the city in our complete guide to visiting Matera.
Honorable Mentions – Amalfi Coast, Venice, Bolzano and Cinque Terre In May
Amalfi Coast in May
Yes, there will be plenty of other people with you on the Amalfi Coast in May, and that’s because it’s a dreamy time to be there!
Take a boat to Capri, hike the Footpath of the Gods (Sentiero dei Dei), eat lemon gelato in Amalfi, put on your big sunglasses and go shopping in Positano. You’ll feel like you’re in a film.
You can spend time on the beach but the water is still chilly for swimming (although on sunny days people do swim!).
Good To Know: Nearby Sorrento and Pompeii are also worth May visits. Pompeii especially – the unshaded ruins can be unbearable (or at least not fun) in the summer heat.
Venice in May
The sun is out, but it’s not stifling hot. You can even head to Venice’s beach – the Lido, or spend more time out in the evening.
If you’re here in an even year, you’re in luck – the Venice Biennale runs from spring to fall and includes art, dance, theatre, cinema, and more. Check out the schedule to see what’s on in May.
Otherwise, time your visit for the Festa della Sensa, which celebrates Venice’s relationship with the sea. Watch a procession of traditional rowing boats or the competitive regatta.
Bolzano in May
Bolzano is one of our favorite cities to visit (every year), but I avoid it in the hot summer months (even if we’re only staying 20 minutes away).
May’s mild temperatures mean you can explore the city all day:
- Visit Ötzi, the Ice Man at the Archaeology Museum
- Have schnitzel or pizza on Piazza Walther
- Visit the town’s markets
- Shop at some of Italy’s best sports stores
- Sample the local wines at an enoteca
- Rent a bike and cycle the Bolzano-Merano bike path
Check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Bolzano!
Cinque Terre in May
It will be busy, but you’ll find moments to yourself – on the trails (there are plenty of others besides the main trails between the villages) or on a boat in the sea.
Relax with a glass of white wine and a plate of pasta al pesto. Or, pack a picnic of the region’s focaccia and head to the rocky beach (still chilly for swimming!)
Destinations To Skip On A May Trip To Italy
There isn’t anywhere in Italy that you need to avoid in May.
If you want to hike on high mountain trails, wait until mid-June to visit the Dolomites, as it’s likely the high trails and areas like the Alpe di Siusi will still be covered in snow in May.
Activities And Events In Italy In May
May is one of the best months in Italy for activities and events. Here is just a sample of what you can do:
|Giro d’Italia||international cycling race||nation-wide|
|Mille Miglia*||re-enactment of an historic car race||nation-wide|
|Infiorata||flower festival||Pitigliano, Noto, Spello, more|
|Iris Garden||opens briefly||Florence (Tuscany)|
|Calendimaggio||medieval festival||Assisi (Umbria)|
|Festa di Sant’Efisio||colorful religious procession||Cagliari (Sardegna)|
|Sagra del Risotto||festival celebrating risotto||Sessame (Piedmont)|
|Festa dei Serpari||snake festival honoring patron saint||Cocullo (Abruzzo)|
|Sposalizio dell’Albero||marriage of the trees||Vetralla (Lazio)|
|Sagra del Pesce||festival celebrating fish||Camogli (Liguria)|
|Palio di Ferrara||horse race with neighborhood entrants||Ferrara (Emilia-Romagna)|
|Mostra del Chianti||wine festival||Montespertoli (Tuscany)|
|Festa dei Ceri||includes race of the candles||Gubbio (Umbria)|
|Pinocchio’s Birthday||party celebrating the puppet||Collodi (Tuscany)|
|Festa della Sensa||festival celebrating Venice’s relationship with the sea||Venice (Veneto)|
|Cantine Aperte||wineries open their doors||nation-wide|
|Maggio Musicale Fiorentino||music festival||Florence (Tuscany)|
- Go on a road trip through the Italian countryside. The green, lush landscape, dotted with wildflowers, is a dreamy sight to see.
- Cycle your way around Italy – either on scenic paved roads or on the country’s strade bianche – white (gravel) roads.
- Soak in thermal baths – Bormio, Merano, Bagno Vignoni, and Saturnia are a few to check out.
- Take a guided hike up an active volcano. You have four(!) to choose from in Italy – Etna, Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Vulcano.
- Marvel at amazing art in Italy’s world-class (non-air-conditioned) museums before the summer heat arrives. It’s a great time to see the Last Supper and Brera Pinacoteca (Milan), the Vatican Museums (Rome), the Colosseum and Roman Forum (Rome), the Uffizi (Florence), the Accademia (Florence), or Pompeii.
- Go on a food tour or visit a factory to see the production of parmigiano or balsamic vinegar.
- Attend a concert or sporting event.
- Have a picnic! Gather ingredients at a grocery store or specialty store and pass an afternoon. Read more about how to shop at a grocery store in Italy.
- Otherwise, settle in at a wine bar and sample the regional wines – salute!
What To Eat In Italy in May
Not-To-Miss Produce In Italy In May
- artichokes – carciofi
- asparagus – asparagi
- fava beans – fave
- peas – piselli
- strawberries – fragole
- tomatoes – pomodori
- cherries – ciliegie
Food Not To Miss In Italy In May
|panzanella*||Tuscany||bread salad with vegetables|
|asparagi alla milanese||Milan||asparagus with boiled egg|
|gelato||Italy-wide||gelato; try with spring fruit flavors|
|fave e pecorino||Central Italy||fava beans with pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese|
|insalata caprese||Capri, Southern Italy||sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt|
The Best Places To Visit in Italy In May With Kids
Italian children are still in school in May, but with the nicer weather, school groups take field trips, so you will see kids out at museums and in cities. Other European children have breaks during May so you’ll see other European families during your Italian travels in May.
This means you may find a few more crowds in kid-focused areas, but you’ll also have more opportunities for your kids to interact with locals and other children.
You really can’t go wrong when choosing a destination in Italy in May for a trip with kids. Here are a few of my family’s favorites.
Venice With Kids In May
Kids love traveling the canals on the little vaporetti (water buses), seeing a glass-blowing demo on Murano island, dining on tapas-style cicchetti, and getting lost on the small side streets.
Check out our guide to visiting Venice with Kids.
The Dolomites With Kids In May
From late May, The Dolomites is an excellent destination for kids. Lifts are open and you can go for easy walks and stop at the family-friendly huts for lunch and playtime (many have playgrounds or animals).
You can also head into charming Bolzano to see Ötzi, the Ice Man.
The Dolomites have an incredible selection of family-friendly hotels, and some of them are dedicated to children (like Cavallino Bianco in Ortisei).
Good To Know: It’s very possible that there will be snow at higher elevations in to mid-June, so if you’re coming with older kids or teens that want to do bigger hikes, you may want to wait until then. Otherwise, with smaller kids, the Dolomites in May have plenty of easy hikes and activities.
Rome With Kids In May
Ride the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus, take a family tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum, eat pizza and gelato, throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain, attend Gladiator School, explore Rome’s children’s museum, and be entertained in Piazza Navona.
You really can’t go wrong with Rome in May. Kids will have fun exploring the city in the mild May weather.
Tuscany With Kids In May
In Florence, see David at the Accademia, visit La Specola (Florence’s quirky Natural History museum – temporarily closed), climb a tower, and see what’s on at Palazzo Strozzi – the exhibits are often kid-friendly.
Milan With Kids In May
Other Destinations With Kids In May
- Umbria – Like Tuscany, an excellent place to let kids explore in nature. Little ones will also appreciate the colors of the flower festivals (Noto, Spello).
- Lake Garda – Head to the theme parks! Weekdays are less crowded because Italian kids are still in school.
- Sicily – In May, kids will love beach time, being on Mt. Etna, exploring Siracusa, and sampling Modica’s strange chocolate.
- Puglia – The water is still chilly, but kids don’t care! Beaches aren’t crowded, and towns like Alberobello are fun for kids to explore.
What To Wear In Italy In May
While the weather in May is definitely moving toward summer temps and sunshine, the evenings can still be cool (and even cold up north).
Some dressing tips for Italy in May:
- Bring a mix of clothing. Long and short-sleeves, shorts and pants, and a jacket or light coat.
- A lightweight scarf is a perfect way to add a little warmth and it doesn’t take up much space if you need to pack it away.
- Sandals are great but have another comfortable closed-toed walking shoe. In the north, it will be too cold for sandals in the evening.
- Don’t forget a bathing suit and beach shoes (flip-flops are perfect) if you’re heading to the beach.
- If you’re planning on visiting churches or religious sites, make sure you have appropriate clothing that covers shoulders and knees. Yes, sometimes you can ‘sneak in’ with a tank top – but it’s not about that. It’s important to be respectful and that means dressing respectfully.
- Fancy dinner plans? Check to see if there’s a dress code. And you may want to read our guide to tipping in Italy.
- Dress appropriately for the activity. If you’re cycling, bring your favorite bike gear. You can buy anything you need here, but you should bring broken in shoes or boots if you can. No one wants a blister while on vacation!
Good To Know – You’ll see Italians in scarves everywhere you look (and not just in the winter). They’re trying to prevent a colpa d’aria (a ‘hit of air’), which could make them sick.
Suggested Modes Of Transport For Italy in May
May is an excellent month to travel by car or go on a road trip in Italy! Driving through the Crete Senesi in Tuscany, driving along the coast, winding your way through vineyards in Piedmont, and many more experiences are waiting for you by car in May.
Traveling by car gives you the most freedom, but can be pricey by the time you add up the rental cost, gas, tolls, and parking. Rental car demand increases in May as the high season begins, so it’s best to book your rental car as soon as you know you’ll be traveling.
Check out our post on Driving in Italy for info on Italian driving laws and norms!
If you’re traveling long distances, look into flying. As the high season begins, more routes open up so you’ll have plenty of options. And, with Europe’s many discount airlines competing for your €s, you may find excellent deals.
It may not always be the fastest way and it may not get you from door to door, but taking a train is a beautiful way to travel around Italy in May and see the country in bloom.
If you’re interested in cycling in Italy, May is an excellent month to visit. Sunnier days and warmer temps mean you’ll need less gear, and you’ll have more daylight hours than in the winter and early spring months.
Make sure you book your bike-friendly accommodation in advance.
Is May a good month to visit Italy?
May is a perfect time to visit Italy. Days are longer, warmer and sunnier, nature is on full display, and there are plenty of early-summer festivals and events.
Can you sunbathe in Italy in May?
The warmer days of May bring Italians and visitors to the beach. In fact, most beach clubs open in Italy at Easter, so by May Italians have already been visiting for a few weekends.
May is perfect for sunbathing, but the water is still chilly. That doesn’t stop many Italians and visitors from jumping in!
Does it snow in the Dolomites in May?
Yes, the Dolomites can receive snow in May, especially at higher elevations. The ski season ends in early- to mid-April, and the lifts open for the summer season in mid-May. Often trails are still covered in snow during May.
Is it worth going to Rome in May?
Yes! While you’ll find more crowds than earlier months of the year, the city is buzzing with energy that comes with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Visit outdoor museums (like the Roman Forum), have aperitivo at a sidewalk cafe, and enjoy the Eternal City in one of its most beautiful months.
Is Rome cold in May?
Rome experiences temperatures that range from highs around 70°F (21°C) and lows around 47°F (8°C). You’ll probably be comfortable in summer clothing during sunny days, but have a jacket for the evening chill.
Where is the warmest place in Italy in May?
The further south you go, the warmer temperatures you’ll find. Sicily is the warmest part of Italy in May, with temperatures ranging from 55°F (13°F) to 76°F (25°F) in Catania. If you’re looking for beach weather, you’ve found it!