Best Places to visit in May in Italy

In Italy, May opens with Labor Day (May 1st), which is considered as the official opening of the holiday season. It’s actually very common to spend at least a weekend on vacation on this occasion, or even just to enjoy a day trip. You will probably bump into some pacific demonstrations and marches carried out by the trade unions in the largest cities, but the main event of this day in the so-called “concertone” (“big show”) taking place in Rome: it is a free music festival which is also shown on tv.

In May you’ll find warm and sunny weather almost everywhere and the spring blooms are at their very best. May is also considered “the month of the roses” and “the month of the brides” because it’s a very popular period for marriages.

May is the perfect month for the first “real” vacation of the year in the mountains, by the sea or in the countryside.

Best things to do in Italy in May 

 

1. Enjoy the alpine landscapes of Valle d’Ayas (Valle d’Aosta)

What: Valle d’Ayas is the largest and the sunniest valley in Valle d’Aosta. It is close to the Swiss border and it is a popular spring and summer destination. It is especially loved by trekkers and climbers, but also by families with kids.

What to see: one of the most popular trekking trails reaches the Blue Lake (its name derives from the blue color of its water given by the submerged rocks). The best locations to be used as a base for your mountain holiday are Champoluc (close to the Mascognaz Waterfall) and Brusson (with its former gold mine).

How long: 1 week

Why May: because hotels and sports facilities have lower prices than in June, July, and August. However, both local nature and climate are already very similar to what you can experience in summer.

Weather: the average temperature is 10°C with an alternation of sun and clouds.

Practical tips: this area is also very popular among motorcycle fans, thanks to its beautiful landscapes and panoramic roads.

2. Discover the picturesque town of Perugia (Umbria)

What: Perugia is a small town in the heart of the Umbria Region and it is mostly untouched by mass tourism. It’s a fortified medieval town rich in art and history and it’s home to both one of the oldest Italian universities and the main Italian university for foreigners.

What to see: the symbol of Perugia is the scenic Main Fountain located in Piazza IV Novembre. Don’t miss a panoramic walk on top of the ancient aqueduct and a tour of the National Gallery of Umbria housing the works of local artists from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance period.

How long: 1day trip from Assisi, Siena, Florence or Rome

Why May: because the weather is perfect for sightseeing and the countryside nearby is in bloom.

Weather: the average temperature is 16°C with sunny days

Practical tips: try the local Minimetro to get around in town. It’s a sort of cable car running on elevated railways. 

3. Take a cruise to the Pontine Islands (Lazio)

What: the proper name of this archipelago is Ponziane Islands and it is made of 6 small islands off the Southern Lazio coast. They are scarcely inhabited and they mainly live on tourism. These islands are loved for their natural beauties and their peaceful atmosphere.

What to see: Ponza with its wild beaches and cliffs, Ventotene to observe the marine ecosystem in the protected marine area and Palmarola with its volcanic rocks.

How long: 4 -5 days

Why May: because it’s the perfect month for a cruise with warm and sunny weather and calm sea

Weather: the average temperature is 17°C with sunny days

Practical tips: don’t forget your sunscreen, because May sunlight can already burn even if the temperatures are not so hot!

4. Attend the Concert on May 1st in Rome (Lazio)

What: it is a free music festival founded in 1990 to celebrate Labor Day. It is held in Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and it is often referred to as the “concerto primo” (“big show”) because it starts early in the afternoon and it goes on until late at night.

What to see: S. Giovanni in Laterano Basilica is the second most important church in Rome after St. Peter, so it’s really worth a visit! In this large square, you can also see a tall obelisk (45 m) and visit the peaceful cloister and the beautiful baptistery close to the church. You can easily reach the Colosseum with a 20minutes walk from there!

How long: 1 weekend to attend the show but if you have never been to Rome before you shall spend at least 5-6 days there!

Why May: to combine your sightseeing with a popular music festival

Weather: the average temperature is 20°C with sunny days

Practical tips: the show starts at 3 p.m. but you shall go there at least 1h30 before to speed up the access controls and get a good place.

5. Enter the fairy world of Bomarzo Forest (Lazio)

What: Bomarzo Forest (also called Park of Monsters or Villa of Wonders) is an artistic and natural area located near Viterbo. It was designed by Prince Francesco Orsini in the Renaissance period and it is a wooden area scattered with many sculptures of mythological figures, gods and monsters.

What to see: the surface of the park covers 3 hectares and the guided path takes about 1h30. If you want to see the most popular sculptures first, search for the Elephant, the Dragon, the Leaning House, and the Ogre.

How long: you can spend a whole afternoon there if you are visiting Viterbo and the surrounding countryside. Viterbo is a nice historic city that’s worth a weekend.

Why May: the woodland is particularly beautiful in May so that nature contributes to the fairy landscape of the park.

Weather: the average temperature is 17°C with sunny days

Practical tips: there are no public transports reaching the park, so you shall rent a car in Viterbo. That’s also a good idea to visit the beautiful countryside nearby and drive around for a day. 

6. Visit the baroque city of Catania (Sicily)

What: Catania is located on the Eastern coast of Sicily, at the base of Mount Etna. It has a perfectly preserved baroque Old Town that is part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is a very popular destination in Sicily, thanks to its architecture and its many pieces of artistic heritage.

What to see: start your visit from Piazza del Duomo and admire the statue of the baby elephant, which is the symbol of the city and is said to protect its inhabitants from the eruptions of the volcano. You cannot miss the busy and loud local fish market called Pescheria and a visit to the main baroque buildings: S. Agata Cathedral, Palace of the Elephants, the church of S. Chiara, the church of S. Maria dell’Aiuto and the Benedictine monastery.

How long: 1day trip from Siracusa

Why May: it’s the perfect month to organize your tour in Sicily since you’ll find warm but not hot weather.

Weather: the average temperature is 19°C with sunny days

Practical tips: during your visit, taste some street food at lunch and choose the local specialty called “arancini” (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with ragù, mozzarella, peas or ham).

7. Make a trip between Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia in the streets of Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

What: Trieste was once part of the Austrian Empire and you can still see many traces of that period in its architecture and its pieces of heritage. It’s not a very touristy place but it’s rich in history and it’s worth a visit to immerse yourself in its cosmopolitan atmosphere.

What to see: the main square is called Piazza Unità d’Italia and it’s the heart of the city with its elegant buildings. The most important monuments are S. Giusto Cathedral, the Victory Lighthouse (to honor the Italian victims of the world wars), the Risiera di San Sabba (the only concentration camp in Italy) and the beautiful Miramare Castle overlooking the sea.

How long: 1 weekend

Why May: because the Bora wind (a strong cold wind blowing there in winter) stops and you can enjoy the spring sun walking along the sea and in the streets.

Weather: the average temperature is 19°C with sunny days

Practical tips: get an FVG Card, which is a prepaid card valid in the whole Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and including many discounts and free passes. You can choose a 48h, 72h or 1week version. For more information visit https://www.turismofvg.it/en/FVG-Card

8. Trekking on the Gods’ Trail (Campania)

What: it is a trekking trail located on the Amalfi Coast. It is one of the most popular attractions of the area for its pristine nature and the spectacular views it offers all along the way. It starts in Agerola and it ends in Nocelle or in Positano. The whole trail requires about 3 hours.

What to see: if you stay there for a few days, don’t miss another trekking trail starting from Agerola and reaching the top of Mount Tre Calli. Nocelle is a tiny village, but it’s worth a stop to enjoy the view from its central square.

How long: 1 weekend

Why May: because it won’t be too hot for a hike, but you’ll find sunny and pleasant weather. The trail is also full of flowers in May, so the landscape is at its best.

Weather: the average temperature is 20°C with sunny days

Practical tips: it’s not suitable for you if you suffer from vertigo since it’s quite high! Remember to wear comfortable and suitable shoes, because it’s a real hiking trail!

9. Admire the splendor of the Palladian Villas (Veneto)

What: the so-called Palladian Villas are a group of Renaissance buildings located in Veneto and designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio. They were the mansions of the local noble families and 24 among them are included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

What to see: among the most visited ones there are Villa Valmarana ai Nani in Vicenza (the legend says that it was inhabited by a dwarf princess and its dwarf servants), Villa Rotonda in Vicenza (the “round” villa takes its name from its central round hall), Villa Godi in Lonedo di Lugo (it now houses an archeological museum) and Villa Pisani in Strà (it’s like a royal palace with a huge garden and rich internal decorations).

How long: 1day trip from Verona, Venezia or Vicenza

Weather: the average temperature is 18°C with sunny days

Practical tips: take a 1day cruise on the Brenta River, flowing along the main locations. Many cruises also include guided visits to some of the most popular villas! For more information visit http://www.battellidelbrenta.it/home.php?setlan=en

10. Discover the tragic love story of Paolo and Francesca in the Gradara Castle (Marche)

What: this medieval castle is located on top of a hill overlooking the town of Gradara. It was the place that witnessed the tragic love story between Paolo Malatesta and Francesca Da Polenta, which was also celebrated by Dante in the Divine Comedy. Francesca was a noblewoman who fell in love with her brother in law, but her husband discovered their romance and killed them both.

What to see: the castle (also called “Rocca Malatestiana”) is really well preserved and it is worth a thorough visit. You cannot miss a walk on its walls too! To learn more about the medieval history of Gradara, visit its Historic Museum.

How long: 1day trip from Rimini

Why May: to enjoy the blooming of the roses in the park and the perfect weather for your sightseeing before the hot summer days

Weather: the average temperature is 18°C with sunny days

Practical tips: the castle is always crowded, especially at the weekends, so it’s best to book your tickets in advance to skip the line!

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