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Italy In May – Your 2022 Complete Guide

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.

First trip to Italy? 10th? Either way, check out our 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips!

Should You Visit Italy in May? 

Infographic showing pros vs cons of visiting Italy in May.  Pros include nice weather, nature on display, festivals & events, outdoor dining, and beach time.  Cons include limited swimming, more expensive, and no mountain hikes.

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 

Poppies blooming in a grassy field in Italy.
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. The nice weather also brings everyone out to celebrate. May in Italy is full of festivals and events throughout the peninsula.
  4. 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!
  5. 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 

  1. With the nicer weather, come more crowds – Italians, Europeans, and other visitors.
  2. With those crowds come the high season prices – flights and accommodation are more expensive.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Infographic showing average temps for Italy in May in Northern, Central, and Southern Italy.

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! 

Infographic showing average temperatures and precipitation for major cities in Italy in May.
CityHighLowPrecipitationNotes
Milan75°F / 24°C57°F / 14°C34.3mmwindiest month
Venice72°F / 22°C57°F / 14°C30.4mmwindiest month
Florence77°F / 25°C55°F / 13°C29.5mm
Rome75°F / 24°C54°F / 12°C14.3mm
Naples75°F / 24°C57°F / 14°C11.1mm
Palermo73°F / 23°C61°F / 16°C6.5mm
Average temperatures and precipitation source: timeanddate.com

Holidays in Italy in May

Infographic showing the main holidays in Italy in May - Labor Day (Festa del Lavoro) and Mother's Day (Festa della Mamma).

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

May (2nd Sunday) – La Festa della Mamma

The 6 Best Places in Italy to Visit in May  

Infographic of the 6 best places to visit in Italy in May: Italian Lakes, Florence/Tuscany, Umbria, Rome, Puglia/Matera, and Sicily.  There is a black silhouette of Italy and the places are marked.
LocationWhat To Do
Florence & Tuscanyhave dinner outdoors, take a day trip to the countryside
Sicilymake your way to the beach, sip on a granita
Romeexplore the Roman Forum in short-sleeves
Umbriacheck out flower festivals in small villages
Italian Lakestake a ferry around a lake, dine at a lakeside villa
Puglia & Matera visit Matera without dripping in sweat, hit the beach
Honorable Mention – Amalfi Coasttake a boat ride along the coast, eat lemon gelato
Honorable Mention – Veniceeat cicchetti at a canal-side bar
Honorable Mention – Bolzanomeet the Ice Man, have lunch on Piazza Walther
Honorable Mention – Cinque Terrehike between the five villages

Florence and Tuscany in May

Two boys looking out over a view of lush vineyards and green landscape in Italy.

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.

Check out our posts:
Best Things to Do in Florence + What to Skip
Where to Stay in Florence
Things to Do in Tuscany

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

People walking on a small stone street in Alberobello in Puglia, Italy.

Puglia

Visit Puglia’s charming whitewashed villages:

  • Alberobello – wander the trulli-lined streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Locorotondo
  • Martina Franca
  • Monopoli – relaxed Puglia living (make this your home-base)
  • Ostuni
  • 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.

Matera

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

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:

Events

NameExplanationLocation
Giro d’Italiainternational cycling racenation-wide
Mille Miglia*re-enactment of an historic car racenation-wide
Infiorata flower festivalPitigliano, Noto, Spello, more
Iris Gardenopens brieflyFlorence (Tuscany)
Calendimaggiomedieval festivalAssisi (Umbria)
Festa di Sant’Efisiocolorful religious processionCagliari (Sardegna)
Sagra del Risottofestival celebrating risottoSessame (Piedmont)
Festa dei Serparisnake festival honoring patron saintCocullo (Abruzzo)
Sposalizio dell’Alberomarriage of the treesVetralla (Lazio)
Sagra del Pescefestival celebrating fishCamogli (Liguria)
Palio di Ferrarahorse race with neighborhood entrantsFerrara (Emilia-Romagna)
Mostra del Chiantiwine festivalMontespertoli (Tuscany)
Festa dei Ceriincludes race of the candlesGubbio (Umbria)
Pinocchio’s Birthdayparty celebrating the puppetCollodi (Tuscany)
Festa della Sensafestival celebrating Venice’s relationship with the seaVenice (Veneto)
Cantine Apertewineries open their doorsnation-wide
Maggio Musicale Fiorentinomusic festivalFlorence (Tuscany)
*not always in May

Activities

  • 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 

Orange cat sitting on the side of a shallow basket of cherries.

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 

Dish/ItemAreaDescription
panzanella*Tuscanybread salad with vegetables
asparagi alla milaneseMilanasparagus with boiled egg
gelatoItaly-widegelato; try with spring fruit flavors
fave e pecorinoCentral Italyfava beans with pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese
insalata capreseCapri, Southern Italysliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt
*make a gluten-free version at home!

The Best Places To Visit in Italy In May With Kids 

Mom dragging two inner tubes with two children trailing behind her.  In the background you can see the Sciliar mountain.  They are on the Alpe di Siusi in the Dolomites, Italy.

You may want to read our posts on traveling to Italy With Teens and Italy With a Baby or Toddler!

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.

You may want to check out our guides to
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Bolzano with Kids

Dolomites with Kids
Ortisei with Kids

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.

There are plenty of fun activities for kids in Tuscany. Check out 70 Things To Do In Tuscany With Kids and Montalcino with Kids!

Milan With Kids In May

Kids will love the playgrounds, exploring the science museum, visiting the planetarium, touring the soccer stadium, and climbing to the top of the Duomo. Read more about Visiting Milan with Kids.

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:

  1. Bring a mix of clothing. Long and short-sleeves, shorts and pants, and a jacket or light coat.
  2. 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.
  3. Sandals are great but have another comfortable closed-toed walking shoe. In the north, it will be too cold for sandals in the evening.
  4. Don’t forget a bathing suit and beach shoes (flip-flops are perfect) if you’re heading to the beach.
  5. 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.
  6. Fancy dinner plans? Check to see if there’s a dress code. And you may want to read our guide to tipping in Italy.
  7. 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 

Cyclist riding downhill past a vineyard in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy.

Car

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.

Need to rent a car? I recommend checking out consolidators like DiscoverCars.com and AutoEurope.com for a round-up of the best deals from Italy’s principal rental car companies.

Check out our post on Driving in Italy for info on Italian driving laws and norms!

Plane 

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.

Train 

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.   

Bicycle

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.

FAQ 

Green hillside on a sunny day in Southern Tuscany, Italy.