Spring is a top time to visit Italy. Flowers are in bloom, fresh vegetables and spring lamb are in season, days are getting longer and warmer, and many places aren’t too crowded yet. Although summer is prime festival season, spring has some good festivals and holidays too.
Spring Holidays in Italy
Spring has the most holidays of any season. Italian national holidays in spring are Easter Sunday, Pasquetta (the Monday following Easter), Liberation Day on April 25, Day of the Worker on May 1, and Festa della Repubblica on June 2. Many shops and some museums and sites may be closed or have limited hours on holidays. Some restaurants are also closed on Easter and Pasquetta or have special lunches that you may need to book in advance.
Easter is one of Italy’s most important holidays. You’ll see many religious processions on Good Friday and during Easter week. This is especially true in southern Italy and on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, where the processions are often very dramatic. Easter is a day of feasting and celebrations, followed by Pasquetta, Little Easter, when Italians often head to the countryside for a picnic. The date of Easter, in late March or April, varies each year.
May 1 is a huge holiday in most of Europe and many popular tourist destinations are very crowded! Some museums and sites are closed on May 1. The day is celebrated with special events and festivals as well as protest rallies.
Top Spring Festivals in Italy
In addition to Easter festivals, there are many interesting festivals in spring throughout Italy. These are a few of the best:
Rome celebrates its birthday on April 21 with festivals, concerts, and special events. There’s usually a fireworks display over the river at night.
April 25, in addition to being the Liberation Day holiday, honors the patron saint of Venice, Saint Mark or San Marco. Festivities include a procession to Basilica San Marco and a festival in Saint Mark’s Square. On this day in Venice, you should also give a rose to your loved one.
Narni, in the Umbria region, celebrates with the Corsa all’anello the last week of April through early May. The main event is a medieval jousting competition in which three horsemen try to snare rings. Other events include a procession with participants dressed in historical costume.
One of the most important festivals in Sardinia is the Sagra di Sant Efisio, May 1 – 4, a colorful four-day procession from Cagliari to the Romanesque church of Saint Efisio on the beach at Nora and back. Beautifully decorated oxcarts and horsemen accompany the saint’s statue. There’s also lots of food and dancing.
Calendimaggio is a huge medieval festival held in Assisi in early May. Events include processions, archery and crossbow competitions, flag-waving displays, music, and dances.
Also in Umbria, the Festa dei Ceri takes place May 15 in Gubbio, featuring a costumed parade and an exciting race with participants carrying huge candles.
In Venice the Festa della Sensa, or Ascension Festival, is celebrated the first Sunday after Ascension Day (40 days after Easter). The ceremony commemorates Venice’s marriage to the sea. A regatta heads from Saint Mark’s Square to Saint Nicolo culminating with a gold ring being thrown into the sea.
Palio competitions are held in many places in spring. One of the best is Il Palio di Ferrara, a historical horse race held in Ferrara the last Sunday of May that dates from 1279. Parades, flag throwing contests, and other events are held every weekend in May including a procession to the castle with over 1,000 people in Renaissance costumes.
Cantine Aperte is an event held in many wineries that last weekend of May. Wineries throughout Italy open their doors to visit and often have special events.
Festa della Repubblica, June 2, is often celebrated with a parade. Rome has a huge parade and the Frecce Tricolori fly overhead, performing aerial acrobatics.
Pisa honors Saint Ranieri, their patron saint, on June 16 with the Luminara di Saint Ranieri. At night, candles in glass holders light up the The Arno River and the buildings along it in a beautiful display. The following day is the Historic Regatta of Saint Ranieri, a rowing competition among Pisa’s 4 districts, ending with someone from the winning boat climbing up a 25-foot rope to reach the victory flag.
The Sunday after Corpus Domini, 9 weeks after Easter Sunday, often falls in June and is celebrated with an Infiorata, beautiful flower petal tapestries that can range from a small display in front of a church to carpets lining the streets of a town. Top places to see an infiorata are Bolsena (north of Rome, Genzano di Roma (south of Rome, and Orvieto (Umbria) where there’s also a procession with more than 400 participants in costume. Noto, Sicily, is also known for their infiorata which is usually held the third Sunday in May. Here’s a video of an Infiorata in the small town of Brugnato, near Cinque Terre.
For food festivals, look for the word sagra, a celebration of a locally grown (or raised or hunted) product usually held on the weekend. Spring sagre include artichokes (carciofi), asparagus (asparagi), and lamb (agnello). You’ll probably see posters for other small spring festivals, too.
Spring Weather and Climate
Weather from mid-April through June is usually fine in northern Italy. You may still need a sweater or light jacket in the evenings. By June, the south is starting to get hot. Expect some rain in most places in late March and April, and sometimes even snow in the mountains and in the north. Swimming in the sea normally starts in late April or May in the south and late May or June in the north.
- Check Italy’s typical weather for the places you want to visit.
Tips for Visiting Italy in Spring
Daylight savings time starts the last weekend of March.
Snow chains or tires are required in many places through April 15.
Spring is the perfect time for visiting gardens. Parco Giardino Sigurta, in northern Italy, has the largest flowering of tulips in southern Europe starting in mid-March. See our recommendations for 9 top gardens to visit in Italy. It’s also a great time to see wildflowers.
Spring is a good time for hiking and seeing wildflowers but in the mountains there’s often snow through some time in May.
Most hotel swimming pools don’t open until some time in late spring, especially in the north. If you’re planning to swim in your hotel’s pool, be sure to check to see if it will be open. Most beach establishments also don’t open until June.
Outside major tourist areas, some museums and sites may only be open on weekends or have limited hours until summer.
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