In summer in Rome, more than the temperature sizzles! The temperatures are scorching (high 90s), but if you can stand the heat, Rome offers some special treats.
One of our favorite summer customs is the tents along the Tevere. In June, tents for food, drink, hookah smoking, gelato, clothes, movies—practically anything you can think of—are erected on the walkways at the edge of the Tevere, and the festivities last until the end of August. We went down to the river for dinner one July evening (Mexican food with great mojitos, which are hard to find in Rome!) and ended the evening in a quiet bar featuring comfy white leather couches. When we arrived, we listened to lovely jazz—so relaxing! At 11 or so, the music abruptly changed to rock and roll and dance as the younger crowd began partying. Another night we walked home on the streets above the Tevere at 1 a.m., and throngs of people below us partied hearty and enjoyed the hot, humid summer evening. Don’t try to go to the tents during the day, though—they’re open only at night.
Hundreds of performers offer all kinds of music outdoors in Rome in the summer. We saw Mozart’s The Magic Flute in the courtyard of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, which gets my vote for the most gorgeous dome in Rome. We also enjoyed Bellini’s Norma at the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla). The set of Norma featured a full moon that offered no competition to the spectacular real full moon rising over the baths that evening! If I’d been in Rome more this summer, we could have found a musical event every evening.
Sales in Italy occur twice a year: Winter sales begin in January, and summer sales begin in July. Both last about six weeks. Windows in nearly every store have a saldi (sale) or sconti (discount) sign in them, and some stores offer discounts of 70 percent. If you’re looking for a bargain, visit Rome in July. Come early, though, because when I was shopping in mid-July, many stores already displayed winter merchandise and had summer clothing tucked away in drawers. Heavy quilted jackets on a 93-degree day in July? I need a winter jacket, but I couldn’t bear to try them on!
In August, as you may remember from my blog post last summer, Rome empties as people leave for vacation and many businesses close for a month or more. Tourists flock to Rome in August, but most Romans get out of town—it’s just too hot! While the Romans vacation, construction abounds. Many homeowners and businesses arrange for major construction in August, completely gutting their space and moving back in when they return from vacation. When we arrived last August, construction noise in the apartment building next door to the southeast woke me up every morning before 7, and construction in the seafood restaurant next door to the northwest began recently and lasts until 9 or 10 each evening. It’s amazing how fast some builders work! I’ve looked into shops without walls or floors one week only to see them open and freshly painted and outfitted the next week.
We left Rome for a couple of weeks in August and traveled to the United States—four states (District of Columbia, Virginia, Colorado, and the coast of Oregon, where the high temperature was about 65 and I almost froze!) in 13 days. Our flight home to Rome last Thursday and Friday took 18 hours! I still haven’t overcome jetlag, but it’s my own fault. My recipe for avoiding jetlag when I fly east and arrive in the morning or early afternoon is to have a two-hour nap and then go to bed late that evening. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice after this trip. I laid down for a two-hour nap at 1 p.m. and woke up at 7. I haven’t been able to sleep since!
I still prefer any other season to summer in Rome, but if you can visit only in summer, don’t despair. You can find plenty to do here—just find someplace with air-conditioning in the middle of the day!