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Seven tips for surviving (and enjoying) Rome in summer

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Seven tips for surviving (and enjoying) Rome in summer
Tourists stand in front of Rome's Pantheon monument. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Rome is a favourite, year-round destination in Italy, but the summer months of July and August are scorching hot. The Local’s reporter and Rome resident Jessica Lionnel gives us her tips on beating the heat.

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Rome in summer is a sticky affair. Temperatures soar, humidity rises and the general pace of life slows down due to the heat. 

August is usually the worst of the sweltering summer months. It's not uncommon for temperatures to reach over 40 degrees Celsius. No wonder, then, that so many residents flee the city for the beach or mountains during this month.

As well as being uncomfortable, intense heat can be dangerous. Last year, Italy saw the most heat-related deaths in Europe, at 18,000, and in the same year Rome recorded its hottest summer.

Whilst there are obvious ways to prevent overheating and burning, such as wearing loose, linen clothes, applying sunscreen and wearing a hat, here are a few Rome-specific ways to combat the temperatures. (And no, none of them involve jumping into a fountain.)

Check if where you are staying has air conditioning (or at least a fan)

Air conditioning throughout Italy, not just Rome, is not something common you’ll find. It is not a standard despite the hot weather in August.

One reason for this is thought to be the dreaded colpo d’aria, the commonly-held Italian belief that exposure to cold air will make someone sick. 

READ MORE: No more 'dolce vita': How extreme weather could change Italian tourism forever

But don't let this deter you. Rome is like an oven in August and you will need some form of ventilation to come back to after going around the city. Check that where you are staying has air conditioning by contacting them. The same can be said for restaurants, too. 

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Bring a bottle

Rome is full of little drinking fountains known as nasoni, or 'big noses'. These are easy to spot, firstly as you’ll often see a queue around them and secondly because of their nose-like appearance (as their name suggests).

There are over 200 of them scattered around Rome’s centre, and each provides wanderers with fresh drinking water, so make sure you pack a reusable bottle.

You can even see where the nearest one is to you by downloading an app named Acea Waidy.

A police officer fills a bottle with water at the Barcaccia fountain in front of the Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti (Spanish Steps) in Rome. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Beware of the afternoon sun

It’s commonly believed midday is the hottest part of any day, and while this is true, Rome’s mass of concrete absorbs the midday sun making it feel a lot hotter than it is later on.

Generally, things start to cool down around 4pm but the four hours before that can be unbearable. You can even feel the heat coming in as you breathe. The afternoon sun in Rome is not your friend.

Because of this, it is better to walk around in the early morning or late at night. This would be good advice in any season, as Rome is beautiful when it has fewer crowds and is lit up against the night sky, but for safety reasons getting up at sunrise, taking a break and then continuing the day during the early evening is not a bad shout.

The churches will be a welcome sanctuary

Even if you are not religious, going to Rome and not seeing any churches is something of a travelling sin.

There are countless beautiful churches dotted around the historic centre, such as San Pietro in Vincoli, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Sant’Ignazio ,all of which have artistic masterpieces in them such as Michelangelo’s Moses.

If you do decide to venture out in the afternoon sun, visiting the churches is the best way of cooling down whilst taking in something cultural.

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Don't sit outside for lunch

For the very same reason, do not sit outside for lunch. You will not feel hungry and you'll probably get heat stroke after eating, particularly if you indulge in heavy, classic Roman fare.

Try limiting the wine at lunchtime too as this will only dehydrate you more.

READ MORE: Five easy day trips to make from Rome by train

Avoid the metro 

This is only if you can. All public transport is crowded during the summer months, but the metro is very busy and as it is underground it gets very hot.

Usually, intense heat also means more body odour and, well, it’s perhaps best not to go into too much detail about that.

Head to the water

This seems like a no-brainer, especially during the daytime. Rome has quite a few pools open during the summer months. The costs vary but popular ones include Crowne Plaza Rome, Belle Arti, and AQVI pool.

Getting out to the beach is a good idea too, especially with Ostia, Santa Severa, Santa Marinella and Subaudia near enough for a day trip and some spots accessible by train.

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