Italy May calendar: events, holidays, and festivals

Italy in May: Holidays, Events, and Festivals 2024

Seeking a comprehensive list of holidays, events, and festivals for May in Italy? You’ve found your guide.

Driven by my cherished Italian lineage, I’ve curated a May 2024 lineup that embodies the heart and soul of Italy’s beloved traditions.

Journey with me through Italy’s varied May celebrations, events, and festivals. Experience the vibrant embrace of full spring that fills the month, crafting a lively segment in the 2024 Italian calendar story.

May 2024 Events and Festivals in Italy: A Month of Heartfelt Traditions

Delve deep as we spotlight Italy’s premier and notable events and festivals this May. Or, read our day-by-day May calendar for a complete rundown of all May’s activities.

May 1: Festa del Lavoro (Labor Day)

Concertone in Piazza San Giovanni Laterano on May 1st
Energized beats at Il Concertone, Rome’s Labor Day heart.

Festa del Lavoro, celebrated every May 1 in Italy, is more than just a public holiday. It’s a day of reflection and recognition for the tireless efforts of workers and the invaluable contributions of the labor union movement. 

A signature event on this day is the “Concertone” in Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano. 

Orchestrated by Italy’s leading trade unions – CGIL, CISL, and UIL – this mega concert becomes the day’s highlight for many, drawing large crowds eager to catch performances from top-charting and up-and-coming artists.

Il Concertone’s finest moments in a flash.

Beyond Rome, the spirit of the day resonates across the country. In industrialized cities like Milan and Turin, marches and parades championing workers’ rights are commonplace. 

Meanwhile, for many Italians elsewhere, Labor Day is a chance to unwind spending quality time with loved ones, often enjoying a leisurely picnic under the spring sky.

May 1: Saint Ephysius Festival (Sardinia)

Saint Ephysius Festival on May 1st in Sardinia
Saint Ephysius, revered and paraded through the masses.

In the heart of Sardinia, from May 1 to May 4, the air is rich with excitement and reverence for the Saint Ephysius Festival or Festival di Sant’Efisio. This festival remembers the miracle of 1656, where Saint Ephysius emerged as a beacon of hope amidst a devastating plague in Cagliari.

This cherished event, deeply rooted in Sardinian tradition, connects several villages on the island, each buzzing with months of anticipation and meticulous preparations.

A sight that always captures the heart is the parade of authentic Sardinian costumes. Every attire tells a story, symbolizing the region’s heritage and pride. 

Sant’Efisio’s spirit captured in every frame.

As horses, prancing in all their glory, and oxen adorned with floral crowns lead the way, the ground blooms with a mesmerizing carpet of flowers set for the Saint.

Kicking off with a procession towards Nora, the place where Saint Ephysius met his end, the festival reaches its crescendo on May 4 with a grand return parade to Cagliari. 

The vibrant display of Sardinian costumes is a treat as locals from different parts of the island converge, clad in their region’s finest, making it a visual and cultural feast.

May 8: Calendimaggio (Assisi)

Calendimaggio Festival
Assisi’s district shines bright for Calendimaggio.

Every year, the picturesque town of Assisi bursts into a vibrant tapestry of colors and melodies, marking the jubilant Calendimaggio festival. Celebrated as a joyous ode to spring and the refreshing life cycle, this event is set to light up Assisi from May 8 to May 11, 2024.

Tracing its origins to deep-seated pagan rituals, Calendimaggio has gracefully embraced medieval traditions, creating a spellbinding fusion of the old and the new. As you stroll through the town, you’re greeted by locals donning charming medieval outfits, with every corner echoing the festivity.

Calendimaggio’s magic, all in one view.

From heartwarming choral renditions to passionate love song face-offs and age-old games, the festival is a treasure trove of experiences. However, the true essence of Calendimaggio is the playful rivalry between Assisi’s upper and lower districts

This rivalry has been kept alive since the 14th century. It’s a thrilling spectacle watching both sides pour their heart and soul into performances and challenges, each aiming to outshine the other. It’s this blend of competition and camaraderie that makes Calendimaggio a must-attend!

May 12: Festa della Mamma (Mother’s Day)

Italian mother's day quotes

Ah, Festa della Mamma! Italy’s heartfelt ode to mothers happens every second Sunday of May, mirroring the celebrations in the U.S. and several other countries. On May 12, 2024, the air in Italy will be thick with love, gratitude, and the heady scent of handpicked flowers. 

This day isn’t solely about the tangible gifts, tempting as those pastries might be, or the heartfelt sentiment of a child’s handwritten poem. Many find beauty in penning Italian Mother’s Day quotes on a card, capturing the essence of their feelings. 

It’s truly a day to immerse oneself in the company of the splendid women who’ve molded our lives, exchanging meals and tales, whether in the cozy corners of an Italian home or the lively ambiance of a bustling trattoria.

If you’re looking to gift something quintessentially Italian this Mother’s Day, here are some Italian gifts ideas:

  • Italian-inspired art prints: Capturing the essence of Italy’s diverse beauty.
  • Italian cooking gifts: A delightful collection showcasing Italy’s finest culinary treasures for the kitchen.
  • Authentic Italian cookware: Elevate your kitchen with classic Italian tools.
  • Italian makeup and skincare products: Unveil beauty inspired by Italy’s allure.
  • Hand-blown Italian glass items: Elegance and craftsmanship combined.
  • Leather bags from Italian artisans: Timeless craftsmanship from renowned artisans.
  • Italian-themed books or novels: Dive deep into stories influenced by Italy’s rich heritage.

May 17: Infiorata di Noto

Infiorata di Noto (Sicily)
Noto’s streets bloom in radiant artistry. Image:

Nestled in the heart of Sicily, Noto (a Sicily UNESCO World Heritage Site) bursts into a kaleidoscope of colors every May, heralding the much-awaited Infiorata di Noto. Set to mark its 45th edition from May 17 to May 21, 2024, this spellbinding flower festival is an essential chapter of the broader Baroque Spring celebrations.

Baroque Spring, or Primavera Barocca, isn’t just about the flowers; it’s a cultural extravaganza. Picture yourself amidst craft exhibitions, absorbing melodies from concerts, and the pièce de résistance, the Baroque Procession.

As you wander through Noto’s charming historic center, the sights of flag-wavers, musicians, and folks dressed in grand period costumes transport you to an era bygone.

Dive into the kaleidoscope of Infiorata di Noto.

But the real magic unfolds on Via Corrado Nicolaci. As Friday dawns on May 17, skilled artists converge on this street, meticulously crafting intricate carpets using vibrant flower petals. 

The entire stretch transforms into a breathtaking floral tapestry when their masterpieces are complete. It’s a sight to behold, a celebration of artistry and nature, remaining on display until May 21.

Being amidst this riot of colors and soaking in the festive spirit is an experience that stays etched in memory.

May 18: International Museum Day

May 18: International Museum Day

Every year on May 18, a global celebration ripples through the halls, chambers, and galleries of museums worldwide: International Museum Day. 

A beacon to highlight the pivotal role of museums in shaping society, this day is about fostering cultural exchange, deepening mutual respect, and promoting a shared understanding among diverse communities.

In Italy, the spirit of this day is palpable. With their treasure troves of history and art, museums swing open their doors even wider. They curate special exhibitions, host myriad activities, and design events, ensuring every visitor feels the day’s magic. 

Behind the scenes, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) steers the ship, coordinating these efforts and spotlighting a unique theme each year to echo pressing issues museums face on the global stage.

If you’re planning to be in Italy for International Museum Day in 2024, keep an eye on the ICOM website or dive into the websites of your favorite Italian museums.

Heading to Italy in May? Make weather uncertainties a thing of the past. Discover more in our guide: Weather in Italy in May.

May 2024 Calendar: Italy’s Holidays, Anniversaries, Events, and Special Days

May 1

  • Labor Day / May Day (Festa del Lavoro / Primo Maggio): Celebrating the resilience and dedication of workers, a sentiment shared deeply in Italy and worldwide.
  • Saint Ephysius Festival (Sardinia): A vibrant blend of religious devotion and Sardinian folklore, marked by grand processions, traditional attire, and age-old traditions.
  • Global Love Day: Embracing amore globally, reflecting the passion intrinsic to Italian culture.

May 2

  • Remembering the Death of Leonardo da Vinci (1519), honoring a Renaissance genius.
  • Day of Prayer: (Celebrated in the US): A day resonating with the profound Italian blessings and prayers that have been passed down through generations.
  • World Tuna Day: A nod to the flavorful tuna, a favorite in Italian coastal cuisines.

May 3

  • Celebrating Niccolò Machiavelli’s Birthday (1469), heralding the birth of political philosophy.
  • World Press Freedom Day: Recognizing the free press, mirroring Italy’s storied journalistic traditions.

May 4

  • Remembering the Superga Air Disaster (1949), a sorrowful day in Italian sports history.

May 5

  • Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating shared cultural moments, although the day itself is not Italian, it emphasizes mutual appreciation.
  • World Laughter Day: Basking in joy with a side of funny Italian jokes, spreading smiles universally.

May 6

  • Commemorating the 6.5 Magnitude Earthquake in Friuli (1976), a day of resilience and unity.
  • International No Diet Day: A perfect excuse to savor rich Italian desserts without a second thought.
  • Tourist Appreciation Day (Celebrated in the US): A salute to all who are captivated by Italy’s unparalleled beauty and heritage.

May 7

  • Teacher Appreciation Day (Celebrated in the US): Honoring educators, in spirit with Italy’s longstanding academic contributions.

May 8

  • Calendimaggio: Assisi revisits the Middle Ages with historical reenactments, processions, and traditional festivities.
  • World Red Cross Day: Commemorating global humanitarian causes, in line with Italy’s compassionate outreach.

May 9

  • Ascension Day: Commemorating Christ’s ascent, a significant observance in predominantly Catholic Italy.
  • Festa della Sensa: Venice renews its age-old bond with the sea in a symbolic ceremony, as the mayor casts a gold ring into the waters.

May 11

May 12

  • Festa della Mamma (Mother’s Day): Cherishing maternal love, echoed in heartfelt Italian Mother’s Day quotes.
  • Chianti Classico Marathon: Navigate the scenic routes in one of the most celebrated running races in Italy.
  • International Nurses Day: Celebrating healthcare heroes, akin to Italians’ reverence for their medical professionals.
  • Celebrating the Birth of Architect Luigi Vanvitelli (1700), the mastermind behind regal Italian architecture.

May 13

  • Inception of the Giro d’Italia Bike Race from Milan (1909), a historic moment in the world of cycling and one of the popular sports in Italy.
  • World Cocktail Day: Toasting globally with the best Italian cocktails, from Negroni to Aperol Spritz.

May 15

  • International Day of Families: A day echoing the deep-rooted family values prevalent in Italian culture.
  • Pizza Party Day (Celebrated in the US): Reveling in the joy of pizza, Italy’s iconic culinary gift to the world.

May 17

  • Infiorata di Noto: Noto’s streets transform into vibrant floral artworks, showcasing the town’s UNESCO heritage in a petal-rich spectacle.
  • Remembering the Death of Artist Sandro Botticelli (1510), honoring a master of the Italian Renaissance.

May 18

  • International Museum Day: Embracing art and history, reflective of Italy’s unparalleled museum-rich legacy.

May 19

  • World Baking Day: Embracing the world of pastries, reminiscent of Italy’s iconic dolci and desserts.

May 20

  • World Bee Day: Honoring these pollinators, and a nod to ‘ape,’ one of the Italian animal names that means bee.

May 21

  • International Tea Day: While the world celebrates tea, Italians remain loyal to their best Italian coffee brands, from Lavazza to Illy.

May 22

May 23

  • Execution of Girolamo Savonarola in Florence (1498), marking the end of a fiery chapter in religious history.

May 24

  • Brother’s Day (Celebrated in the US): A day to celebrate fraternal bonds, echoing the deep family ties valued in Italy.

May 25

  • Celebrating the Birth of Padre Pio (1887), a beacon of spirituality and guidance.
  • Celebrating the Birth of Politician Enrico Berlinguer (1922), remembering a stalwart in Italian politics.
  • Wine Day (Celebrated in the US): Raising a glass to the best wines for Italian food, from the robust Chianti to the delicate Pinot Grigio.

May 26

  • Napoleon’s Coronation as King of Italy at Milan Duomo (1805), a pivotal moment in Italian history.

May 27

  • Remembering the Death of Violinist Niccolò Paganini (1840), a melodious loss in the world of music.

May 30

  • Corpus Christi: A significant religious observance, deeply revered in Catholic-majority Italy.

May 31

  • Remembering the Death of Painter Tintoretto (1594), commemorating a master of the Venetian School.
  • World No Tobacco Day: Fostering global health, in line with Italy’s commitment to public well-being.
  • Smile Day (Celebrated in the US): Celebrating joy and the unique Italian sense of humor that has brought smiles to many worldwide.

While we diligently verify event dates, confirming with local organizers before planning your visit is always best.

Before You Go…

Planning an Italian adventure in May? Ensure it’s smooth sailing with our comprehensive resource, Italy’s Weather in May: The Ultimate Travel Guide, blending meteorological details with essential travel tips. Begin your impeccable May journey with us!

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