promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Heatwave Rome: Our top 5 tips to cooling off in the summer

Welcome to Rome in the summer. One word: hot. And imagine working in the dirt eight hours a day every day under a full sun.  Since we’re always thinking about the well-being of our students, we’ve come up with five fool-proof tips to cooling down during the urban heat. If you think you (or anyone you know) will break from Rome’s rising mercury, here’s how we do it:

  1. Grattachecca(grah-tah-KEK-ah) 
    • This is Italian shaved ice– aka the real deal. Literally shaved by hand on the spot from a big block of ice, grattachecca is a Roman summer tradition where you get to pick the fruit syrups and fresh fruit to pour into the hand-shaven ice. Grattacheccha stands are street-side kiosks, and sometimes are near the summer sliced watermelon pop-ups. Our favorites include:
  2.  Ostia Beach
    • Since our excavation is at Ostia Antica, instead of saying “take a hike”, we tell our students to hit the beach. A half-hour local train from Rome (on the same line as heading to our dig site), is Ostia beach- a public beach with restaurants, activities and social life.  For your €1.50 ATAC ticket, hop on Roma-Lido “trenino” (little train) found at the local station adjacent to the Piramide (Metro B) metro. Destination:  Lido Centro.
  3.  Use a big nose
    • That’s right, those fountains you see on the streets that are constantly running are called “nasoni,” big noses, and they are a really great way to keep cool and hydrated as you explore the city. The water is cold, clean and delicious, coming from a deep underground spring.  According to the Comune di Roma, the nasoni run constantly in order to keep the system clean and flushed out.  Our tip to taking a sip? Put your finger over the main spigot to block it and water will arc out of the small hole on top. Or, you can use them to fill your water bottle without paying outrageous tourist prices for water bottles at the coffee bars! Newsflash: the Comune di Roma is offering re-useable water bottles sold for €2 at local tourist information points (PIT). 
  4. Villa Borghese 

    • Rome’s second largest park with over 140 acres of greenery is the perfect respite from a hot day in the sun. You can walk up from the stairs off of Piazza del Popolo, take a paddleboat, peddle around on a group bike, rollerblade or run under the sprinklers.
  5. Gelato
    • Saving the best for last, don’t forget to sample Roman gelato, which is definitely NOT ice cream. Gelato uses more whole milk and less cream, so it has a lower fat content, and it contains less air so it’s denser which provides a more intense flavor. Some of our favorite gelato shops are*:
*Pop onto Parlafood for Katie Parla’s au courant and every growing gelato reviews. We’re so impressed with how she talks gelato, we think a flavor should be named after her!
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