Tips to Surviving a Roman Summer
It’s a strange phenomenon that always seems to baffle the locals: the highest tourist season seems to be in the sweltering depths of July and August, when the locals, at least the lucky ones, desperately escape the city for the seaside. But so it goes: with many non-locals able to take their vacation only during the hottest months of Rome weather, even as the sun blazes on, the show must go on! You can get through a trip during the “Estate Romana” too—here’s what to expect and how to make it through!
Keeping Your Cool
Lots of great suggestions abound on the web as to the best ways to keep cool. Last year we listed our top 5 tips for cooling off here. There are the usual suspects (gelato, cold water running from the street fountains throughout the city) as well as a lesser-known delight: grattachecca. But how about going high-tech for your cooling needs? You can download an app called “Water Finder in Rome” for your iPhone that shows where to find the “nasoni” water fountains, or even simply Google “best gelato in Rome” for all the Rome foodies’ top picks. A great example is Rome-based journalist and food tour guide Elizabeth Minchilli’s just updated for this year Best Gelato in Rome.
Taking Advantage of Summer-Only Specials
Some events take place only during the summer in Rome, giving the tourist a special reward for visiting the Eternal City during the hotter months. Estate Romana is a series of city-sponsored cultural events, many of them outdoors, for all ages. Last year the city called it “a vacation for everyone,” playing off of the fact that lots of Romans were taking “staycations” due to tough economic times. Outdoor film festivals are also a fun and unique way to enjoy the summer nights; two of the most popular are L’Isola del Cinema on Tiber Island, and Notti di Cinema in Piazza Vittorio. Last year I attended a Q&A there with Carlo Verdone, who talked about his latest comedy.
Jump for Sales
“Saldi,” or end-of-season sales, take place only twice a year in Rome, during the winter and summer. This year the summer sales will start on July 7 and last for 45 days. It might be your chance to finally get that Prada bag or Gucci wallet you’ve had your eye on!
So How Hot is Hot?
Of course, heat is relative and everyone has different heat tolerances. Rome’s heat is particularly tough on tourists because not only do temperatures regularly reach the mid to upper 90s F in July, but humidity generally hovers around 50% during the middle of the day. Heat waves bringing record-breaking temperatures have been known to strike hard, the most notable of recent years being in 2003 and 2012. A good planning tip for tourists is to hit their outdoor visits in the morning before the scorching afternoon sun is blazing, then retreat to lodgings for a cool siesta nap in the hottest part of the day after lunch, and then schedule museum visits in their blissfully air-conditioned environments in the later afternoon.
Buone vacanze! Enjoy your vacation!