Italy In May

Your Guide To The Best Month To Visit

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Is May The Best Month To Visit Italy?

If you love near-perfect weather and fewer crowds than in the summer months, then May is one of the best months for your next trip to Italy.

Weather

One of the main reasons the month of May is a great time to visit Italy is the fact that weather conditions are much more favorable.

Less desirable are the higher temperatures of summer or the cooler temperatures of the winter months.

While early spring has more rainy days, the late spring days of May are a lovely time to find yourself in Italy.

The average temperature for Northern Italy during the month of May (Milan or Venice) is approximately 16 Celcius (62 Farenhight) with an average of about 10 days with scattered rain showers – depending on your location.

The average temperature for Southern Italy during the month of May (Sicily and the Amalfi Coast) is approximately 18 Celcius (64 Farenhight) with an average of about 6 days of rain – depending on location.

Average water temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea in May range from 61 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 21 Celcius). 

Visiting Different Regions Of Italy In May

Although peak season for travel in Italy begins in mid-May, the true height of the season is June through September.

However, many schools and universities are still in session until June and don’t return until September so by visiting Italy in May you will have far fewer students with whom to share all the popular Italian destinations.

Northern Italy

Milan

The region of Milan is called Lombardy and May is an excellent time to visit this area of Northern Italy.

The city of Milan is not only the fashion capital of Italy, but it is also home to some of the country’s most amazing architecture and works of art.

While in Milan, you should check out the Gothic Duomo, one of Italy’s most famous and remarkable cathedrals dating back to the 14th century.

Just steps away from the Duomo is the fabulous Galleria shopping mall built in 1870.

Another one of Milan’s cultural treasures is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper.

Other sites worth visiting in Milan in May are: Castello Sforzesco, Teatro alla Scala, and an aperitivo or dinner in along the canal in the Navigli District.

Cinque Terre

Another wonderful place to visit in May while in Northern Italy is the picturesque seaside Ligurian town of Cinque Terre.

There’s lots of wonderful shopping, fabulous restaurants serving locally caught seafood, and beautiful beaches to luxuriate on or hike along.

Venice

Finally, while in Northern Italy during the month of May, one should not miss visiting the enchanting floating city of Venice.

Venice is full of wonderful sites and things to do. A little-known fact about Venice is that coffee was introduced to the modern world hundreds of years ago by the Venetians.

If you’d like to discover the best places to get a cup of coffee in Venice, read more here.

Central Italy

Rome

Rome is one of the best places to visit during the month of May. “The Eternal City” is filled with some of the world’s most famous art and architecture and May is the perfect time to see it all.

During the summer months, Rome can be overcrowded and too hot. But in May, the lines to visit the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums (located in The Vatican City) are much shorter than in the high season of summer.

The Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain are all sights you would visit outside, so the cooler weather of May is the best time of year to visit them.

One of the most well-preserved Roman buildings in the world is The Pantheon but it is open-air and non-air conditioned as are the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens and the enchanting Trastevere neighborhood filled with its lovely shops and restaurants.

All of these locations are best enjoyed during one of travelers’ favorite months to visit Rome, which is May.

Umbria

This beautiful rural region of Umbria is filled with small towns and lots of great outdoor activities, with lower prices than some of Italy’s major cities, this central region of Italy is an excellent location to visit in the month of May.

With average high daytime temperatures in the 18 celsius (the mid-60s to low 70s Ferinhight), May is one of the best times of the year to visit these charming smaller villages in the hills of Umbria.

Umbria is full of surprising beauty which can best be enjoyed during the nice weather of May. The Abbey of San Pietro in the city of Valle has been called one of the prettiest spots in Italy.

Not far from there are the largest man-made waterfalls in the world, the Cascata delle Marmore. They are the 2nd tallest waterfalls in Europe and are a spectacular sight.

Near the Marmore waterfalls, in the Nera River, is some of the best whitewater rafting in Italy. If you’re looking for an unexpected outdoor adventure during the longer daylight hours of May, whitewater rafting is the perfect activity for you.

Florence

The perfect month to visit Italy’s most famous region is from May 1st through the end of the month.

The city of Florence, located in the region of Tuscany, is considered by many to be the jewel in Italy’s crown. The mild temperatures in May and lower visitor numbers than in the summer months are both excellent reasons to immerse yourself in the city that was the birthplace of the Renaissance.

One of your first stops should be Galleria degli Uffizi one of the best museums in Florence and home to the famous 1400s painting of Venus in the half-scallop shell by Sandro Botticelli.

No visit to Florence would be complete without a visit to Michelangelo’s sculpture of David, carved from a single 17ft (5.18 meter) slab of Carrara marble in the 16th century, located in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

While it would be impossible to mention every must-see location in the beautiful city of Florence, it would be impossible not to mention the most recognizable landmark in the city – the impressive 15th-century terracotta domed Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

Tuscany

Once you have soaked up all the art you can handle in the City of Florence it will be time to visit the stunning hills of Tuscany which are decorated with wine vineyards and olive groves.

The most iconic images of the Italian countryside come from this remarkable region.

The warm temperatures of May are what make the famous Tuscan fields of sunflowers burst into full bloom in the summer.

A visit to Tuscany should include stops in the cities of Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo, Assisi, and the natural hot springs in Saturnia.

The 17,000 acres of vineyards make the Chianti wine region a must for wine lovers.

Tuscany also has some fabulous beaches.

The warming sea temperatures make mid to late May an ideal time to soak up hours of sunshine on the Tuscan beaches.

Be sure to arrive before the end of May when hotel rooms fill up with hoards of tourists and the UV index and heat of Italy’s dry summers make the beaches of Tuscany less desirable.

Southern Italy

Naples & Sorrento,

Naples (Napoli) is one of Italy’s most unique cities.

Words like “gritty” and “colorful” are often used to describe this vibrant coastal city.

Perched on steep hills in a bay dotted with islands and an active volcano, Naples is one of the oldest cities in the world dating back 4,000 years to 2,000 BC.

In more recent history, pizza was invented in Naples in the 18th century – and that’s just one of countless fabulous dishes this seaside city has to offer.

Winter in Naples can be surprisingly frigid, January being the coldest month with cloudy skies and bitter winds. Meanwhile, summers in Naples can be sweltering with daily high temperatures reaching 41 Celcius (105 Fahrenheit) in July and August.

But as you might have guessed, the best time of the year to visit Naples is the month of May.

Whether you’re taking day trips to Pompei, climbing Mt. Vesuvius, riding the funicolare, or shopping at Galeria Principe, May is a great month to do it.

Just a short drive south, around the bay of Naples, is the picturesque city of Sorrento. Tourists start arriving here in greater numbers in late May, but the beginning of the month is a wonderful time to visit Sorrento and take in gorgeous views of Capri and Naples.

Capri & Amalfi Coast

Just a short boat ride from Naples is the enchanting island of Capri.

Some of the most famous classic Italian and American films were set on this beautiful island with its fabulous hotels, exquisite restaurants, and charming boutiques.

As Italians say, come in “primo maggio” (the first of May) – the best period to enjoy better weather and uncrowded beach time.

Just across from the Island of Capri and south of Sorrento is the beguiling Amalfi Coast with its lovely little villages hugging the rugged cliffs. Over the past 20 years, the Amalfi Coast has become extremely popular with international tourists from around the world.

Social media images showing off the beauty of Positano, Amalfi, Minori, Maiori, and other locations along the Amalfi Coast have fueled the popularity of this part of Southern Italy.

Since you’ve been reading this seasonal travel guide about Italy in the month of May, you may have guessed that one of the best months to visit the Amalfi Coast is indeed May.

Puglia

Of all the southern regions of Italy, Puglia is one of the most underrated.

Thanks again to the power of social media, images and videos of Puglia online are responsible for the growing popularity of this previously ignored region.

In this mostly flat region, you will find some of Italy’s most beautiful sandy beaches and crystal-blue waters.

Located on the East Coast of Italy along the Adriatic Sea, Puglia is on the opposite side of the country as Rome and Naples.

One of the best things to do while visiting Puglia is to check out some of the region’s unique styles of architecture.

For thousands of years, the Pugliese people have been building circular structures called “trulli”. A trullo is a dry-stacked stone structure shaped like a cone.

Their grey roofs and white walls can best be observed in the village of Alberobello.

This is the location of the greatest concentration of trulli in Puglia.

While the sea temperatures are not quite as warm in Puglia in May as they are in summer, by visiting Puglia in May you will have some of the best weather and far-fewer fellow tourists to compete with for local hotels and restaurants.

Calabria

Another underrated region of Italy is the South West region of, Calabria. Located on the toe of Italy’s “boot”, Calabria has 500 miles (800 km) of coastline and some of the most breathtaking locations in the country.

Tropea located on the Tyrrhenian Sea is one of Calabria’s most fabulous locations.

While visiting Calabria in May, one should visit Santa Maria dell’Isola, a Benedictine fortress that is located 300 stone steps above the city of Tropea and one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

If you’re a skier and are not able to visit Calabria in May, you could always come back in the winter and just one hour from the beach you could drive up to Aspromonte National Park to the village of Gambarie and take in the views of Mt. Etna and Sicily across the Strait of Messina while skiing in one of Italy’s most beautiful snowy ski resorts.

If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir to bring home with you from your trip to Italy, you may want to visit the city of Squillace.

This ancient city is renowned for its terra-cotta pottery called “pignata”. This 11th-century artisan style of pottery design is highly recognizable due to its ivory-colored designs often set against blue and gold-colored vessels.

The Italian Islands

Sicily

During the summer months, Sicily temperatures are blistering, that’s why May is a wonderful month to visit this largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Thanks to the 2nd season of The White Lotus, the historic coastal city of Taormina has become a tourist hot spot and one of the main attractions on the island.

Besides visiting the San Domenico Palace the ancient monastery where The White Lotus was filmed, there are plenty of other things to do in Taormina, Sicily.

The Valley of the Temples and the Greek Theater are two other must-see locations in Taormina.

Sicily is famous for its many pristine beaches, many of which are “blue flag” beaches meaning they have been certified as some of the world’s cleanest beaches.

The city of Palermo is not only the capital of Sicily, but it is also one of Italy’s most magical cities.

The street markets are packed with fabulous fresh produce, the restaurants and nightlife are matchless, and the largest opera house in Italy is located there, Teatro Massimo.

There are countless small islands off the coast of Sicily and 6 active volcanoes, the most famous of all is Mt. Etna which has been extremely active recently.

You can’t visit Sicily without a visit to Mt. Etna.

Sardegna 

The island of Sardegna is Italy’s 2nd largest island and home to nearly 5 million sheep from which the famous pecorino cheese is made.

While the Island of Sardegna is full of small family farms and plenty of non-touristy locations, there are also some locations that are quite glamorous.

On the Northern Coast of the island, there are some swanky resorts in the port city of Porto Cervo on a stretch of coast called “Costa Smeralda” (Emerald Coast) named after the emerald color of the sea. Many celebrities including George Clooney have homes in this part of Sardegna.

There are some beautiful Roman ruins on Sardegna on the western coast in the city of Tharros as well as in Nora in the south.

Thanks to the beautiful weather in the month of May, these outdoor open-air museums are a very pleasant way to spend time on the island.

For one of the world’s most beautiful train rides, visit the towns of Arbatax and Perdepera and take the 100-mile (160 km) “Trenino Verde” (Little Green Train) between the two cities.

The views of sheep herds and olive groves as you travel through the mountains and valleys are breathtaking, passengers will also be able to see bits of the Arbatax shoreline on this magical train ride.

To read more about the Best Resorts to visit in Sardegna, click here.

Summary

Whether you’re exploring Italy’s northern regions, touring Central Italy, or visiting the southern regions and islands, the month of May with its sunny days, warmer temperatures, and fewer tourists is a very good month to do it all.

Some would argue that it is the very best month for your next trip to beautiful Italy.

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Author Info:

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan is a writer, designer & horticulturist. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "All Roads Lead to Italy" Magazine & host of the Top-10 Travel Podcast, "I'm Moving To Italy!". Nathan was born and raised in a 6th generation farming family in Northern California, he is currently, a dual Italian citizen, living in the Prosecco Valley of Northern Italy, near Venice.

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