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Parades, strikes and traffic: What to expect in Italy on May 1st 2023

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Parades, strikes and traffic: What to expect in Italy on May 1st 2023
Labour Day gatherings will take place in most Italian big cities on Monday, May 1st. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

From reduced public transport services and city parades to heavy traffic and a national rail strike – here’s what's happening in Italy on Labour Day.


May 1st is Italy’s Labour Day (or Festa del Lavoro). 

First instituted back in 1890 to celebrate workers’ rights and the achievements made by trade unions, Labour Day is a national public holiday, meaning you’ll get next Monday off work for it. 

Most people in Italy like to spend the day in the company of family or friends, with picnics and walks in nature being the most popular activities (weather permitting, of course).

READ ALSO: Calendar: How to make the most of Italy's public holidays in 2023

But, family get-togethers and old pals reunions will not be the only thing going on during the day. 

Here’s a quick look at what you should expect on May 1st. 

Closed offices and reduced public transport 

As it’s usually the case on national public holidays, all public offices (banks, post offices, town halls, etc.) and schools will be closed, whereas some shops and restaurants, especially in big cities, may remain open. 

Empty bus station in Rome

Public transport services may be significantly reduced on May 1st. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Most public transport companies around the country will operate on a reduced timetable on the day, with stripped-down services during off-peak hours. 

READ ALSO: Who can claim Italy’s €60 public transport discount?

So, should you be planning on travelling on May 1st, you’re advised to check the holiday hours (orari festivi) of the relevant transport companies to avoid any unpleasant surprises. 


Parades and concerts 

Though celebrations may not be on par with those in the US, Labour Day is a heart-felt festivity in Italy and most big cities across the country will hold parades or live music performances to commemorate the event.

For instance, in Milan, the traditional May 1st corteo will be followed by a number of guest talks in the central Piazza della Scala, whereas Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni in Luterano will host the iconic concertone (‘big concert’) – the largest free live music event in Europe.

It bears noting that traffic in some urban centres might undergo changes to allow for the safe unfolding of Labour Day celebrations. You’re advised to check your own comune’s website for further info. 

Nationwide rail strike

Italy’s strike season seems to be a long way from its end, with further travel disruption expected on May 1st. 


Rail services all around the country may register significant delays and/or cancellations on Labour Day due to a 24-hour nationwide walkout scheduled to start at 9pm on Sunday, April 30th. 

Man awaiting train at Milan railway station

A nationwide rail strike is scheduled to start at 9pm on Sunday, April 30th and end at the same time on Monday, May 1st. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The strike was called last month by Italian union Usi-Cit in protest against “all forms of non-essential work during national holidays”. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are there so many transport strikes in Italy?

At the time of writing, there are no sufficient details as to exactly what level of disruption the demonstration may cause, but regional and interregional services are both expected to be affected. 

As per current industry agreement, national train operator Trenitalia will guarantee minimum services on the day. Live updates on the status of all Trenitalia trains are available at the following link

According to the latest national media reports, staff from some local health authorities (Aziende Sanitarie Locali, or ASL) are also expected to strike on Labour Day, with non-urgent medical services being potentially affected in some cases.


Traffic jams

Italian roads are currently expected to see some heavy traffic on Monday, when people who spent the long weekend away from home will be making their journey back.

According to the latest forecasts from Italy’s Polizia di Stato (State Police), traffic will be intense in the first half of the day, but will likely worsen in the afternoon and evening, with some roads showing “possible critical conditions”.

Based on recent years’ events, state roads (strade statali) connecting big cities to popular seaside or countryside locations are the most likely to be affected by significant congestion, though jams on motorways (autostrade) cannot be ruled out at this point.

Intense road traffic

Italian roads are expected to see some heavy traffic on May 1st. Photo by Jean-Philippe KSIAZEK / AFP

There are a number of resources that you can use to keep up to date with the latest developments on the road.

This online map from Italy’s motorway construction and maintenance company ANAS features live updates on road closures, maintenance work, traffic levels and even weather conditions. The service is also available through their mobile app, ‘VAI’.


Motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia offers a similar live map, showing road closures and traffic jams as well as the locations of the nearest petrol stations and service areas. 

Bad weather?

According to the latest weather forecasts, it’ll be a wet Festa del Lavoro for most people in Italy as a cold air front from northern Europe is expected to bring rain showers to all Italian regions, except Sicily, Sardinia and some areas of Calabria. 

Rainfall is currently expected to be more intense in the north-west of the boot (especially Liguria, Lombardy and Piedmont) and in Emilia-Romagna.

Temperatures across the entire peninsula are forecast to drop below season averages on the day. 


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