Rome in May, things to do and what to see in the Eternal city in Spring

Here is a list of fseful tips for visiting Rome in May

May in Rome is usually the high season.  The climate is fantastic and it is the best time of year for visiting villas and photographing views.  Events are slowly picking up again, and there is no lack of exhibitions, markets, and outdoor activities to fill your time in Rome.

Climate and clothing

The month of May in Rome is a particularly rosy month.  Spring has definitely arrived and the city is blooming with things to see and do. Every year, in the month of May, Rome is filled with colors, events and warm weather.  It is the ideal time to be outdoors in Rome: picture the middle of spring, when the days have lengthened, the sun is warmer, but the temperatures are not yet too high.  

The temperature in Rome in May is generally between 11 and 23 degrees, perfect for outdoor activities, picnics, biking, hiking and sports.  There can be some unexpected spring showers, which is not optimal, but it actually helps keep temperatures mild and deposit pollen on the ground, giving less discomfort for allergy sufferers.  

We recommend layered clothing and to bring a waterproof jacket.  Romans still wear coats in May, and haven’t yet pulled out their sandals and shorts.  Therefore, to fit in with the locals, we would advise a light jacket, easy dress, cropped pants, and sturdy shoes (for the cobblestone streets as well as for comfort in a quick rainstorm).  

Shopping Outdoors In Rome

The first option that comes to mind is Via del Corso, with its long straight line of stores suitable for all budgets. It is one of the most famous streets of the city, and definitely worth a visit to admire Rome’s historical and artistic beauty: Via del Corso connects two of the most popular squares, Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo.  

Nearby, if you are interested in high fashion, wander over to Via Condotti, Via Frattina, Via Borgognona or Via del Babuino.   These side streets are filled with cult- like labels. Remember, however, that these areas get busy. The flow of locals and tourists alike makes for a characteristically “energetic” area but certainly does not cater to those who are looking for a quiet walk. If you prefer a more relaxed shopping experience, turn to one of the many less central alternatives.

Moving up the Tiber to the Vatican is Prati, an elegant and accessible neighborhood, with shopping along Via Cola di Rienzo.  There are several boutiques as well housewares, jewelry and wine shops.  Pop into Castroni, easily found by following the scent of roasting coffee beans that, in addition to the famous coffee, sells excellent food, wines and liquors from all over the world.

Another street perfect for shopping on a sunny day is Via Monserrato, which connects Piazza Farnese (Palazzo Farnese is the seat of the French Embassy) to Piazza della Moretta.

It is an elegant street, devoid of any gaudy signs or billboards with menus.  During the Renaissance, bankers, aristocrats and various courtesans lived here, including Imperia, the lover of Agostino Chigi.  The stores on Via Monserrato have their own character, such as the historic store "Hollywood tutto sul Cinema" at number 107. It has existed since 1983 and sells movie posters, playbills and rented DVDs.  A reference point in Rome, especially for art films.

The last remaining shoemaker in the area, Francesco, at 108, is right next door to Hollywood. He repairs any shoe! The artisan traditions found on Via Monserrato have Renaissance roots, represented by Fabrizio Canto at number 28, who is a master of the art of framing.  There are other gems in this street. The lampshades of Maurizio Bellacci, at number 50, is one of many examples.   

Food in Rome in May

Cheap and easy to transport, perfect for an outdoor picnic (as per tradition), fava beans are among the symbols par excellence of May.  Paired with pecorino cheese, they are a must on any table this time of year.  

Among the first fruits and vegetables of May, friggitelli (fried vegetables) are popping up, especially in the south of Italy.  They are sweet green chili peppers made to be fried.  Speaking of fried… don’t miss the opportunity to order fried zucchini flowers this time of year!  Most typical Roman restaurants have “fiori di zucca” on the appetizer menu: fresh zucchini flowers, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, battered and lightly fried.  It’s a mystery how Stanley Tucci missed these in his hit CNN series “Searching for Italy”.

Excursions out of Rome

If you have already crossed the must-sees of Rome off your list,  and want to immerse yourself in ancient villas, medieval castles and archaeological relics, head to the Castelli Romani area, just 33 km from the capital. This is a set of villages and towns in the Alban Hills set in a wonderful natural environment.  From the villages of Ariccia, Castel Gandolfo, Frascati and Rocca di Papa you can visit the lakes, mountains and the historical residences.

You can follow historic routes such as the Via Francigena, scenic routes such as the Sentiero dei due Laghi and, above all, food and wine excursions, to discover the authentic flavors of the Roman diet, such as porchetta in Ariccia.  The area is great for a day trip or longer stay.

A weekend getaway that might be appealing toward the end of May, as the days get longer and hotter, is a trip to one of the Pontine Islands.  For glamour and nightlife head to Capri.  For a slower pace and more historical experience try the small island of Ventotene. 

Parks in Rome in May

Among the most famous parks of the capital there are the historic villas, which in addition to acres of nature also have interesting architecture to visit and discover with your family.  Villa Borghese is a large family- friendly park, with a duck pond, fountains, and snack bars.  Giardino degli Aranci is perfect for taking a few pictures from the rooftop terrace and an early evening stroll.  The list goes so have a look at our recommendations here. 

Museums in Rome in May

In Rome, some museums belong to the City and others to the State. All museums are closed on May 1.

Rome Capitoline Museums

The city's museums include the Capitoline Museums, Mercati di Traiano, Fori Imperiali and among others.  National Museums include the Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo, and Galleria Borghese. 

Reservations are required for the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery and all other museums of Rome. 

Chiostro del Bramante

Chiostro del Bramante (Piazza Navona area).  One of Rome’s most beautiful museums presents modern and contemporary art exhibits (Our tip: the caffetteria- bistrot is one of the best places to have coffee outdoors in Rome’s historical center and the bookshop has a well- curated selection of gift ideas and art books).  Open everyday from 10.00am - 9.00pm.

Municipal Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale)

Over a thousand varieties of botanical roses reside here, from ancient to modern from around the world. The Rose Garden is in the heart of the Capital (Via di Valle Murcia 6, next to the Circus Maximus) will be open until June 19 with continuous hours, everyday including holidays, from 8.30am to 19.30pm, with free admission.  This is an opportunity not to be missed in an oasis of peace and tranquility in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Saint Peter's opening hours in May

For St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, we've compiled detailed information in our articles on the St. Peter's Basilica entrance, the dome, and how to visit the Vatican Museums.

In May there are often queues at St. Peter's Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica is closed during the celebrations of the Holy Father.  Opening hours are:

Basilica 7a.m. - 6:30p.m.

Dome 8 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Treasury 9a.m. - 6:15p.m.

The Vatican Museums Opening Hours in May

Closed on Sundays and on 19 March.

Opening hours 8:30 am - 6:30 pm

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