With May starts the peak tourist season in Italy, and for good reason. There are many reasons why so many people prefer to visit the country in this month, the first reason is the weather. The climate is quite reliable and pleasant in May and it is not yet uncomfortably hot. Secondly, there are dozens of festivals, feasts and events that take place in Italy during the month of May.
Those who are willing to shell out a little more money or can hike up their travel budget should definitely consider visiting Italy once in May to experience its many festivals. Everything in Italy is more costly in May, the air fare, the rentals and the hotel prices so it is best to be prepared for the added cost. Those who want to visit Italy in May and still want to avoid the crowds can consider visiting the smaller and lesser known villages rather than the large cities.
Mille Miglia - A Classic car race - May
Weather in May
May is the start of the peak tourist season in Italy because of the good weather and tourists start flocking to the country from all over the world. May is known as the month of roses in Italy and the country side can be seen just beginning to bloom, creating a beautiful spectacle. Weather in May is warm, but not yet unbearably hot and for that reason, there are also more tourists in the country in May in comparison to the winter months. Also, in May there are a lot of Italian school children that can be seen out on picnics as most schools tend to take advantage of the good weather and organize various trips for the kids. The northern areas of the country are still colder in comparison to central and Southern Italy so those who are longing for some sunshine and the beaches should head straight to the south.
In Northern Italy definitely remains the coldest part in the country because of the Alps and the mountain ranges, some of which remained covered in snow all year round. In Milan and other parts of Northern Italy, the average temperature would remain between 9 to 21 degrees Celsius (49 to 70 degree Fahrenheit). In May, wet days are still quite common in Northern Italy where temperatures on an average would be lower.
In Central Italy including Rome the temperature is approximately between 12 to 22 degrees Celsius (54 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit). Do expect a few wet days in Rome, even in May when the temperature might plunge down again by a notch.
In Southern Italy and Sicily, including Palermo, the summers start with a bang with temperatures remaining between 16 to 21 degrees Celsius (61 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Wet days and rain falls are not very common in south when compared to Northern Italy.
Overall, in May precipitation is not quite frequent except for in northern Italy.
Check out our real time weather forecasts.
Where to Visit in May
There are a lot of places to choose from for those who are planning a trip to Italy in May. May is spring time in the country. There are many spring festivals in the regions all through the country. There are also many floral festivals, food festivals and wine festivals during this time. Depending on the preferences and interests, the places can then be chosen. Although Florence is definitely over crowded by tourists in May, it is worth a visit in May. During May the famous Iris Garden of the city is opened up to the general public for 19 days which otherwise remains close for the rest of the year.
Giro d'Italia, the largest bisicle race event of the country also takes place in May. The route of the bike race is different every year so visitors would need to get information on the route before planning their trip. However, those who want to avoid the crowds should consider going to places which are not located on the route of the race. It is also a good idea to travel to Sardinia in May since the region's biggest festival takes place in this month even thought seaside water temperature is still on the chilly side. Also, those who are visiting Venice during the month can witness the festival of the sailboats.
Calenimaggio ( May ) in Assisi
Festivals in May
May in Italy is known for its dozens and dozens of spring festivals and its many food festivals. Some of the most important festivals to visit in May are:
The most important festivals in Sardinia is Sagra di Sant Efisio. The festival's main highlight is the four day long procession which starts from Cagliari and ends in Nora in the beautiful Romanesque Saint Efisio's church. The statue of the saint is carried along the way which is followed by horsemen and various decorated oxcarts. There is a huge feast and plenty of music and dancing.
In the town of Assisi in Umbria, the festival of Calendimaggio is celebrated. The festival is quite special since it brings to life the renaissance and medieval lifestyle. There are two ancient wards, Sotto and Sopra which engage in an interesting challenge which is held in the form of concerts, dances, choruses, theater shows and processions. Challenges like singing competitions, archery and crossbow are also held. The entire town is decorated with candles, torches, flags and flowers. The festival takes place from 7th to 9th May.
Those who love food can sample some of the best varieties of risotto in the Sessame town in the region of Piedmont on the first weekend of May. The festival organizes a large feast which is a typical rice dish which dates back to the thirteen century.
Another interesting festival that takes in May is Snake Handler's procession in Cocullo in the region of Abruzzo. The festival celebrates the patron saint of the town, Saint Dominic. The statue of the saint is carried around the town covered in live snakes.
Wedding of the trees takes place in Vetralla town in the region of Lazio. During the festival, two oak trees are married with flowers. The horsemen give bouquets made from the first of the spring flowers. Locals plant trees and a free picnic lunch is provided to everyone.
For food lovers, the fish festival in Camogli village is a good place to visit. The festival is celebrated in honor of Saint Fortunato, the patron saint of the village's fishermen. The festival takes place the second weekend of May. The event begins with fireworks and a competition of bonfires. On Sunday everyone is provided with fried fish absolutely free.
In Avigliana, the polenta festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample various different types of local polenta dishes.
One of the best events to visit in Italy is the ancient horse race which started in 1279. The festival is known as Il Palio di Ferrara and takes place the last weekend of May. Various parades, competitions and events take place on each weekend of May. A medieval procession in which more than thousand people dress in ancient costumes and march towards the castles.
For wine lovers, the wine festival of Chianti can be the best way to get an opportunity to sample the famous wines of the Chianti region. Chianti is known to be one of the best producing regions of wine and is known for its various famous Italian wines.