Coming to Rome in May?
Spring is definitely here!
Flowers are blooming all over the city, and the weather is fantastic for sightseeing - warm during the day and cool at night.
Here's what you need to know:
I always think of May in Rome as a warm month.
But the reality is that I also never change my down comforter for a lighter blanket until the end of May. And I never put away my winter clothes until then either.
May in Rome can be cooler than you think, especially at the beginning of the month.
In the beginning of May, it can still rain a bit, and temperatures are in the low 20's C / low 70's F during the day, and chilly in the evening.
By the end of May, the nice weather is definitely settling in and you can count on fairly consistent long, warm sunny days and perfectly comfortable evenings.
During the day it's in the mid- to high 20's C / high 70's, low 80's F, and in the evenings, it's in the high teens C / high 60's F.
We can have some beautiful sunny days in Rome in May, but it is still spring. This means that you'll need a mix of lighter and heavier layers when packing for a trip in May as it isn't as warm as you might think it will be, especially in the evenings.
A mix of cotton t-shirts, long skirts or pants, light cardigans or jumpers is ideal, so you can layer up when it feels cooler.
Visit my page all about what to pack for Rome in May for specific recommendations, suggestions on what to wear in Rome in May and more!
For more packing tips, and a downloadable packing list, visit my page about What to Pack for Rome.
For sight-seeing in May in Rome, here is the ideal way to dress:
Days will usually be warm enough to wear light clothing, but you will do well to be flexible and prepared for cooler temps, in particular in the shade, on an underground visit, or as the sun goes down.
As I've said on other pages, Romans don't tend to wear shorts in the city, certainly not short shorts.
But if you want to, of course that is up to you. They are used to tourists doing it.
But if you plan to visit any churches or other Christian site, you will not be allowed in with bare knees.
Rome is absolutely beautiful in May.
The days are sunny and long and there is usually not a lot of rain. And you will find the streets, plazas, restaurants and sites packed.
I'm not sure why but a lot of people seem surprised to find that May is a busy season in Rome.
But for those who can pick what time of year to visit (not tied to a school calendar for example), the choice is usually spring or fall, precisely because of this nice mild weather.
So come and enjoy Rome in the sun and warmth, and just plan your visit to avoid crowds when you can!
Artichokes are still in season but they are pretty much ending. By the time May rolls around, I find myself not eating artichokes any more. They are starting to get tougher and have more of the choke/fuzzy bits.
Fava beans and peas are in season. A popular thing to do in Rome on May 1 is eat fava beans with pecorino cheese. And so in Rome in May you may find pasta with mussels, fava and pecorino cheese. This is one of my favorite spring pasta dishes!
Spring fruits and vegetables are also coming into season. Strawberries are easy to find, and they are deep red and really sweet.
By now we are seeing all kinds of juicy tomatoes in the market and so it's a great time to start enjoying caprese salad: fresh mozzarella and tomato.
There are some things that happen every May in Rome. Here are some dates to watch for:
May 1 is a national holiday called International Workers' Day, or May Day. It's celebrated throughout most European countries and is a kind of Labor Day.
I find that Romans enjoy it more than anything as a day for a picnic or big outdoor lunch.
The following sites are CLOSED on May 1 2020:
The following MAY open May 18, 2020:
See further down the page for some exhibits you can visit on May 1.
But May is when you will see the roses at their most beautiful and in full bloom. It's not only free, but it's usually fairly uncrowded.
With beautiful views of the Palatine Hill as its backdrop, visiting the Roseto Rose Garden one of my favorite special things to do in Rome in May.
Speaking of flowers, from mid April through early May, the Spanish Steps are covered in azaleas. It makes the Spanish Steps more beautiful than ever, and is even more special since the flowers are only there for a few weeks.
The best time to see them like this without the crowds is at around 7:30 in the morning.
In early May, you may visit hundreds of buildings, palazzos, ruins and monuments in and around Rome for free. Weekend of May 16-17 2020.
The project is called Open House Roma, and includes a wide range of properties, from contemporary to ancient. The site is only in Italian, but you can see photos of the many places you can visit, and if you click on any one, it will open a map of where it is.
If you are a tennis buff, you may already know that every May, the BNL Tennis championships are held at the Olympic Stadium (Foro Italico) in Rome.
INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA IS TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED.
Every May, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is held in Rome. This 4-day event begins in Circus Maximus, where there are all kinds of things to participate in, leading up to the race. The race itself is held on the morning of Sunday May 17 2020, and goes through the historic center of Rome. If you click the logo to left, it will take you to the site for the race in Rome. It's only in Italian but try translate.google.com to translate if you want to learn more about the events or to participate.
The Notte dei Musei, or Night at the Museums, is a fun initiative (at many cities throughout Europe, in fact) to allow visits to museums at night, for the symbolic entry price of only 1€.
COVID-19 UPDATE: the European Museum Night has been postponed to November 14, 2020.
Now that the evenings are pleasant, you can enjoy some cultural sites and exhibits at night:
As of June 2020, night visits to the Colosseum are temporarily suspended.
From April through January 6, 2021, you can visit the Colosseum at night. Entry for night visits to the Colosseum is NOT part of the Roma Pass. NB - They don't usually open this on Coopculture until right before the event so if you don't see availability for when you want to go, check back.
Due to new hours, as of June 2020, the Vatican Museums are open Friday and Saturday until 10pm (Mon-Thu until 8pm).
The ticket is a regular ticket and must be booked in advance.
I highly recommend this wonderful laser/hologram/light show in the Forum of Augustus, that brings the whole place to life. Combine it with the light show of Julius Caesar's Forum and you will really have a sense of Ancient Rome.
Various 40-minute shows from about 8pm. Get the combined ticket for both shows and save.
Advance booking is strongly suggested.
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Raffaello - Beyond the exhibition. March 5 - June 2, 2020.
Scuderie del Quirinale, Via XXIV Maggio 16.
Open: sun - Thu 10am - 8pm; Fri - Sat 10am – 10:30pm.
Click the photo to visit the official site.
TBD at the Chiostro del Bramante.
Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm.
xxx€ includes audioguide. No advance booking required.
TBD at the Complesso del Vittoriano.
Mon - Thu 9:30am - 7:30pm
Fri - Sat 9:30am - 10pm
Sun 9:30 am - 8:30 pm
Tickets are xxx€. Advance booking highly recommended for this popular exhibit.
From spring, Rome's Casa del Jazz will have concerts throughout the season.
I've listed some of what I think are the most fascinating events in Rome in May, and most central. For a complete list of events in Rome in May, visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.
Maybe it's your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time in Rome. Or you have more than 3 days here. Or you just want to see and do lots of fun things.
Besides the obvious must-see tourist attractions, there are lots of great things to see and do in Rome in May. Here are some ideas for your visit: