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How to enjoy (survive?) Rome in the heat
Strategies to cope with the realities of Italian summer in the eternal city
My usual response, when people ask me about coming to Rome in the summer, is, don’t. But I get it. Sometimes life and schedules and work mean that the height of summer is the only time you can travel.
A reporter recently asked me for advice about mistakes travelers make when coming to Rome. They only requested one idea (I gave them two) but for you, I have a long list. Here is my advice for how to enjoy (survive?) your time in Rome this summer.
🥵Do not underestimate the heat.
The heat was thankfully slow in coming this year but it has arrived and Rome went from gray and rainy to boiling in an instant. Be prepared for temperatures in the high 80s (30+ in Celsius) and for places to have little or no air conditioning. Double (triple) check that your accommodation has air conditioning if that is important to you. It is not a given.
🏛️Visit empty museums
🪴 Find cool gardens
⛪️ Go to Church
Churches offer a cool and quiet respite from the heat and chaos outside. Make sure you have a scarf in your bag to cover bare shoulders and that your dress or shorts cover your knees. The Vatican and the Pantheon strictly enforce this rule. Remember that most churches close in the middle of the day and reopen after 3 pm.
❄️Find a Fountain
There is always ice-cold fresh water flowing from the small drinking fountains that Romans call Nasoni.🚫Remember there is a hefty fine if you take a dip in the famous fountains.
🦉Are you a lark or an owl?
⏰ Be a morning bird and get your steps and major sightseeing in before the sun is high. Go with Isabella of Archeo running on an early morning walk through Rome. Be the first one in the Sistine Chapel.
🌃 Be a night owl. Take a nap in the middle of the day and then eat dinner late and get gelato after midnight. The Opera di Roma performs opera and ballets and concerts under the stars with the Terme di Caracalla as a backdrop through August. This year’s program includes La Traviata and Cinderella and Beethova’s 9th. Along the Lungotevere near Trastevere between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Garibaldi, there are tents set up with shopping, games for the kids, and pop-up restaurants that open after sunset. I love this after-dark Colosseum tour.
🧊Ice, ice, ice
Get something cold to eat or drink. Italians don’t really do big iced coffees1 but instead have a shakerato or granita de cafe. Order a cold cocktail; Negronis seem to always come with a lot of ice cubes. If cocktails are not your thing, grattacheccha, the Roman version of snow cones, works just as well.
🏖️ Go to the beach
I spend as much of July at the beach as is humanly possible. Anzio and Ostia are easy peasy to get to without a car. Are lakes more your style? Rent a car and go to Lake Bolsena. If you are happy to just sit near the water there is a stretch along the Lungotevere called Tiberis with chairs, yoga classes, children’s activities, and a few food options. Short on time for exploring beyond Rome? Spend the day on the Amalfi Coast.
🏊♀️ Find a pool
The easiest way is to book a hotel with a pool. The out-of-the-way location of the Rome Cavalieri is worth it to have access to their gardens and pools. The Parco dei Principe on the edge of the Villa Borghese is my other recommendation. Bookmark this list of pools in Rome that have day pass options for that afternoon when you need a cool break.