I was going to write about food today, but I changed my mind: I’m writing about August instead. Don’t come to Rome in August. August is hot (high is expected to be 97 today—ugh!) and dry, and tourists take over the town. In August, Romans leave for vacation spots elsewhere, and, consequently, many businesses in Rome close for several weeks or the whole month.
One of our favorite restaurants so far, just a block from our apartment, was open the weekend we arrived, and we haven’t seen a table in the piazza since then. So many businesses are shuttered in August that, with a few exceptions, we don’t even know what stores are in our neighborhood.
A good thing about August in Rome is that drivers can park! That’s uncommon in Rome. Michael’s trying to decide whether to buy a car and what kind to buy, but he won’t proceed before we have a parking garage near our apartment. Parking is just awful—except in August. In August the few Romans in town can drive anywhere they want without putting up with the heavy traffic that occurs during the rest of the year, and they can park.
Unfortunately for Michael, fewer people taking the bus = fewer buses. One morning he left the apartment at 7:30 and didn’t get to work until a little after 9. He depends on two buses and one metro line to get to work. The metro line isn’t so much of a problem, but the buses are—at least in August.
August has affected my days as well. When we were here in June and July, I walked my feet off for several hours each day in the middle of the day. Not in August! This month I’m walking in the early morning when it’s in the 70s and 80s and staying indoors during the middle of the day. I love my August morning walks—manageable traffic crossings, few people walking about in the historic district. It’s just me, the trash collectors, some construction folks, and the pigeons. No one sits in the little tables outside the bars and coffee shops. Rome becomes a different city in the morning, and I love watching it wake up.
This morning I walked to the Trevi Fountain. I purposely took a route that zigzagged through part of the historic district that I hadn’t seen before, and I arrived at the fountain in about 30 minutes. The Piazza di Trevi during the day is so dense with tourists that it’s difficult to see the fountain, let alone walk through the piazza. When I arrived at 8 this morning, I was one of about 20 people there.
The legend of the Trevi Fountain is that if you throw a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome, so a lot of moolah collects there each day. This morning the fountain was turned off, and city workers were hosing down the piazza and sucking up people’s dreams with what looked look submersible vacuum cleaners. The dream-collection team consisted of two vacuumers, one man who wheeled the coin canister, and three policemen. That was fun.
So, future tourists, August in Rome isn’t all bad, but for my money, almost any other month would be better.