Blossoming romance: why May is the best time to visit Italy

by | 24 Apr 2024

With its painterly landscapes, bright and fresh weather, and crowd-free sights, May is one of the best times to visit Italy. In May, food is at its freshest, flowers are blooming and there’s country-wide spring in the step. So, if you’re thinking about booking a stylish trip to Italy, consider May for springtime charm.

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The weather is perfect

A beautiful Italian village glowing in the sun, multi-coloured houses look out over a glittering body of water. A grass-covered mountain makes up the background

One of the principal reasons May is the best time to visit Italy is because of the weather. In mid-spring, it’s warm and pleasant with temperatures hovering around 68°F (20°C) – perfect for strolling cobbled streets, gelato in hand. Italian summers can be oppressive, scorching the land with temperatures between 95.0 °F – 100.4 °F (35 – 38°C).

May still brings radiant sunshine, but paired with a delicate climate. This makes for ideal conditions to explore Italy’s fascinating sights and insights. Amble along cities, hike the countryside, or simply lounge on the beach – all in balmy comfort and style.

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Fewer crowds

A gondolier pushing his gondola along a canal in Venice, framed by an archway

As well as intense heat, summer brings intense crowds. In the height of summer, the big sights and cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice can become heavily crowded. We’ve found May offers a more authentic experience, with fewer tourists and more locals around.

May is the best time to visit Italy if you want to explore cities, museums, and attractions at a more leisurely pace. You can admire the beauty of iconic landmarks, like Rome’s Colosseum or Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, without feeling rushed or cramped. Same goes for Italy’s smaller towns, like Siena, Perugia or Lucca, where one would want a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere to soak up the local charm.

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Lower prices

A group of travellers in summer clothes, linen shirts and straw hats laughing while in an Italian deli - cured meats and cheeses sit in the background

Often, with smaller crowds come smaller costs. Flights, accommodation, activities, and even sometimes local restaurants are all more affordable this time of year. This is especially true if you book your trip in advance or take advantage of last-minute deals. With lower prices, you can use the cash you’ve saved to indulge in more luxurious experiences such as fine dining, wine tours, and spa treatments. By skipping the crowds, finding good prices and taking advantage of great weather, you’ll find this the most pragmatic and intuitive time to visit Italy.

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Festivals and events

A large group of people clinking beer glasses

Not only is May the best time to visit Italy for pragmatism, but it’s also a vibrant time of year filled with festivals and events. With warmer weather and longer days, towns and cities are buzzing with that new lease of life spring brings. You’ll find plenty of cultural, culinary, and artistic celebrations that offer a unique glimpse into Italian culture and traditions.

Festa Della Sensa

This famous event takes place in Venice on the Sunday after Ascension Day, dating back to the 9th century. Celebrations include a regatta, where traditional Venetian boats compete in a race along the Grand Canal, a boat parade, and traditional food and wine. Here you’ll find a symbolic ritual with a procession of boats sailing from St. Mark’s Square to the lagoon, where the mayor of Venice drops a gold ring into the water. This commemorates the historical marriage between the city and the sea.

Opera in Rome

In Rome, May marks the beginning of the outdoor opera season at the Baths of Caracalla. Built in AD 212, these grand ruins have set a majestic stage for Rome’s open-air opera festival since 1937. Here, you can enjoy performances of the world’s best opera under the stars in a stunning ancient setting.

Maggio Sagre

Sagre are local Italian food festivals akin to country fairs. They take over towns, villages, and communes and celebrate Patron saints, as well as food. These are truly the best kept local secrets of Italy, where you can find some really special delicacies.

They happen all year round, but the May (Maggio) sagre are particularly special. In Liguria you’ll find a wonderful fish festival with music, dancing, and all the seafood you can eat. That’s not mentioning the main event: 30,000 portions of fish cooked in the world’s largest frying pan in the town’s main square, all given away for free. In nearby Piedmont there’s a festival dedicated to the universally loved dish of Risotto, and in Umbria you can indulge in a 3-day Porchetta festival.

These little community festivals offer a great opportunity to taste traditional dishes, meet local producers, and learn about the culinary heritage of different regions.

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The landscapes are in full bloom

A couple enjoying a beautiful view of Italian hillside villages stretching out into the horizon at sunset. They hold glasses of wine and are surrounded by spring flowers

Another festival that takes place in May is the vibrant Infiorata. The word “infiorata” comes from the Italian word fiori, meaning flowers. Unsurprisingly, the festival is all about celebrating the springtime bloom that sweeps across Italy in May. You can find stunning floral displays on the streets and piazzas of towns and villages all over the country. In places like Noto, Genzano, and Spello, you’ll find intricate and colorful flower carpets that depict religious, historical, and artistic themes.

Indeed, May’s springtime delights make it the best time to visit Italy for nature lovers and floral fanatics alike. From the colorful fields of Tuscany to the blooming gardens of the Amalfi Coast, Italy’s natural beauty is at its peak in May.

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Best places to visit in Italy in May


Liguria is one of the best places to visit in Italy in May. With spring in full bloom, Liguria is alive with resplendent color and fragrance, In May, the weather is comfortably warm, making it ideal for leisurely strolls along the gorgeous coastline or adventures into the picturesque hillsides. Ramble along the Cinque Terre and visit villages like Riomaggiore or Vernazza, which will be buzzing with excited spring energy. Luckily, the crowds are much thinner compared to the peak summer months, which can be quite intense. Use this time wisely, tasting all the delicacies unique to this coastline such as farinata, anchovies, and pesto Genovese.

The Lakes

May is the perfect time to visit iconic Lake Como and Lake Garda. As spring unfurls its magic, the Lakes Region is fantastically tranquil and stylish at the same time. The landscape is awash with blossoming flowers and lush greenery, creating a picture-perfect setting for your explorations. Indulge in leisurely boat rides on the crystalline waters with the majestic Alps providing a breathtaking backdrop. Or try your hand at hiking, cycling, or simply basking in the serenity of the lakeshores. It’s a wonderfully mild time of year, perfect for exploring the charming lakeside towns like Bellagio, Menaggio, Sirmione, and Limone sul Garda, where you can wander through the most charming cobblestone streets.

Varenna, one of the beautiful towns by Lake Como. Beautiful places like this make Lake Como one of the best places to visit in May in Italy


The breathtaking Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most glamorous hotspots, and it’s especially alluring in May. Sun-kissed cliffs are adorned with blooming bougainvillea and citrus groves perfume the air. With temperatures warming up but not yet reaching the scorching heights of summer, May sets the perfect scene for exploring the charming towns that cling to the cliffsides. From the pastel-hued buildings of Positano to the historic streets of Amalfi and the dramatic vistas of Ravello, you’re spoilt for choice in Amalfi in May. May also marks the beginning of the beach season, so soak up the sun on the region’s picturesque pebble beaches or take refreshing dips in the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Stop by local trattorias serving up freshly caught seafood, fragrant lemon-infused dishes, and delectable pastries made with locally sourced ingredients.


As we make our way further south down to Sicily, things start to heat up. In May, the weather is delightful with plenty of sunshine; perfect for exploring all the diverse attractions across this captivating island. Saunter through Palermo’s bustling streets, explore ancient ruins in Agrigento, and when you feel like a beach day head to Taormina. Make sure to check out some of the island’s fantastic May festivals, such as the Greek Theater festival and the Infiorata di Noto: one of the most colorful festivals of the Mediterranean, where artists flock from around the world to decorate Noto with floral mosaics to celebrate the spirit of spring.

A view of Taormina buildings backdropped by towering hilltops. In the foreground, blooming trees and bushes with red and orange flowers.


Sardinia is the perfect place to visit in May for a beach holiday. The water here is either baby blue or crystal clear, with pale sandy beaches beckoning. At an average of 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24.3 ºC), Sardinia’s a haven for European sunseekers who don’t want the summer crowds. Beyond the coast, Sardinia boasts a wealth of cultural treasures, from prehistoric Nuraghe settlements to medieval villages perched atop rocky hillsides. Visitors can wander through charming towns like Alghero, Cagliari, and Bosa, immersing themselves in Sardinia’s rich history and vibrant culture.

How should I dress in Italy in May?

It all depends where you are in Italy – the north is very different to the south. If you’re heading to Sardinia, you’re best packing your beach wear, whereas if you’re exploring the northern cities you’ll want to probably leave the swimsuit at home. Regardless, the temperature does still significantly drop in the evenings no matter where you are, so make sure to bring some thicker layers and jackets, even if you’re soaking up the sun along the coast!

Can you swim in Italy in May?

Italians rarely hit the beaches and swim during May – you’ll have to wait til July and August for that. Realistically, May is the first month of the year when the water becomes warm enough where swimming is bearable, with sea temperatures sitting between 64.4 °F and 66.2 °F (18°C and 19°C). In many coastal towns, you’ll find bays and microclimates where the water is even warmer, and locals happily swimming to enjoy the first signs of summer.

Experience the best time to visit Italy with Insight Vacations

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Researching the best time to visit Italy because you’re planning an upcoming trip? Making an itinerary is a daunting task, especially with a country as culturally rich as this; it’s hard to know where to start. With Insight Vacations, you can leave the planning and stress to our travel experts. Rely on their intimate knowledge of the country, gained through years of dedicated research and firsthand experience. Our itineraries show you all of Italy’s sights and insights in comfort and style, with every detail taken care of. Using Insight’s extensive network of connections you’ll skip the lines, dine at premium restaurants, and secure excellent deals at stylish hotels. Don’t leave your Italian adventure to chance – let Insight Vacations help you create Italian memories that will last a lifetime.

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I'm Jay – born in Italy, raised in South London. Having French sisters and Hungarian ancestors, I've always been fascinated with the world and its cultures, and I carry this curiosity into my writing for Insightful. My favourite destinations I've traveled to so far have been Italy, Peru, France and Brazil.