Welcoming May in Italy

Apr 27, 2021


One of my favorite months anywhere, May is especially beautiful in Italy. “Aprile con il fiore, maggio con il colore,” Italians say. April with its flower, May with its color. But May enchants the heart as well as the eye. As an old proverb goes, “Di maggio s’innamorano anche le civette.” (In May even the owls fall in love.)


The month’s name derives from the Roman goddess Maia, mother of Mercury, but in Christian culture maggio is dedicated to the Madonna, the mother of Jesus.  May in Italy also is known as il mese delle rose e delle spose (the month of the roses and the brides). Le rose (roses) blossom during May, a popular time for le nozze (weddings). The month starts with il Primo Maggio (the first of May) and la festa del lavoro (the equivalent of America’s Labor Day) and includes a host of celebrations, including la festa della mamma (Mother’s Day).


Italians never stop keeping an eye on the weather (il tempo) during this unpredictable month, when l’inverno riprende breve ingaggio (winter briefly takes up the fight again). On May 16, the feast of Sant’Ubaldo, a folk saying warns, “Per Sant’Ubaldo, guardati dal freddo e non dal caldo.” (For St. Ubaldo, watch out for the cold and not the heat.)  On May 22, the feast of Santa Rita, they delight, “Per Santa Rita, ogni rosa è fiorita.” (For St. Rita, every rose is blossoming.)   Yet another weather prediction: Quello che fa maggio, fa settembre. (What May does, September does.)


Rain is the biggest preoccupation. According to one proverb, “una piovuta a maggio, se è sola che vantaggio!” (A rainfall in May, if just one, what a gain!).  Another cautions: “Maggio ortolano, molta paglia e poco grano” (The greengrocer’s–-or a rainy–-May, lots of straw and little grain).


If the sun shines, maggio brings ciliegie per assaggio (cherries to taste) and well-priced produce. “Maggio soleggiato, frutta a buon mercato.”  (Sunny May, cheap fruit.) Farmers welcome a preview of summer’s heat. “Maggio caldo ti arricchisce, freddo ti impoverisce,” they say. (A hot May makes you rich; a cold one makes you poor.)


May inspired one of my blog followers to post this sweet tribute::

A maggio tutte le rose son sbocciate (In May all the roses blossom)

e le strade si riempion di risate (and the streets are filled with laughter).

I fanciulli all’aria aperta giocano (The children play in the open air)

mentre i papà e le mamme si riposano  (while the fathers and mothers rest).

A maggio i giovani aprono il loro cuore (In May the young open their hearts)

e nell’aria si respira tanto amore  (and in the air you breathe so much love).

Guarda in alto, alza gli occhi al cielo (Look up, lift your eyes to the sky).

Di notte è pieno di stelle mentre di mattina il sole risplende.(At night it is full of stars while in the morning the sun shines).


Wishing you a merry month of flowers, colors and celebrations, starry nights and sunny days!


Dianne Hales is the author of  LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World; LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language; and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. You can download her most recent book, A” Is for Amore, for free at


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