May 1 is a national public holiday in Italy, the “Festa del lavoro” (Labor feast) or “Festa dei Lavoratori” (Workers holiday), to celebrate workers’ achievements in their struggle for their rights and for better social and economic conditions. During this day many shops and restaurants could be closed, but most of the museums and tourists attraction are open and often free or with reduced tickets.
All over Italy there will be concerts, parades, processions and country festivals, from Milan to Turin, from Bologna to Florence, from Rome to Naples.
Very popular is Rome’s Concerto del Primo Maggio (1 May’s Concert) or Concertone (Big concert), in Piazza San Giovanni. It is organized by Italian Labor Unions and attended by more than 500,000 people every year. It involves participation of many famous bands and songwriters. The Concerto will start at 3 pm and end close to midnight, but the Piazza will be full of people since early in the morning. Here the official website for further information.
Please consider that all the area nearby the Concert and the public transportation will be crowded more than usual, and that the Metro station “San Giovanni” will be closed to avoid obstructions.
Some of the sites that will be open in Rome on May 1st: Colosseum and Roman Forum, Borghese Gallery, Castel Sant’Angelo, National Roman Museum, Ostia Antica, San Callisto’s catacombs, Saint Peter’s and the other Basilicas, like all churches.
This year May 1st will also be the first Sunday of the month: Statal museums and archeological sites will be open and free. Here the complete list of the sites that will be open.
The Vatican Museums (included the Sistine Chapel) will be closed.
The best way to avoid problems, is to check in advance if the place you want to visit is open.
In any case, Rome is an open-air museum itself, and you can enjoy it’s beauties simply walking through roads and squares, like Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and so on, all reachable by foot. And you can grab a gelato on the way!