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How To: Summer in Rome

Tips for Visiting Rome in the Summer Heat

Though the myth and majesty of Rome is magnetic year-round, the sometimes sweltering heat and humidity of Roman summers are not. But with school breaks dictating many family trips and high temperatures often lasting from June well into October, “summer” trips to Rome can be unavoidable. If you plan accordingly, they can be as wonderful as any other time of year—sometimes even better.

Italy as a whole is spearheading European summer travel for Indagare members (racking in 60% more bookings than the second place winner, France), and Rome commands an impressive 17% of that—a feat considering its competition includes waterfront hotspots like the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como. And with new hotel openings like the Bulgari and Six Senses bolstering a destination already rich with art, history, food and fashion, the city’s pull is only getting stronger. (The Four Seasons Vatican City is slated to open in 2025!)

We’ve laid out the ultimate guide to a summer trip to the Eternal City, including top hotels with pools and terraces, tips for combatting the heat, the best breaks and pick-me-ups and a morning-to-night breakdown on how to organize your days around the sun.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning your next Roman Holiday. Our team can help match you to the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Planning the Day

Below, find the optimal layout for summer days in Rome, designed to maximize cooldown opportunities and limit sun exposure during the day’s hottest hours. Though many weather channels might tell you highs are around 90°F, travelers can expect to see midday temperatures, especially in June, July and August, breaching the 100s in real feel.  Evenings may fall to a “comfortable” 80 to 85 °F, which is not to say a 70 to 75°F is out of the question but it is best to keep expectations lower and embrace the pleasant surprise when it comes.

The Morning

When it comes to outdoor touring, it is best to fit the bulk of it in the mornings before the heat really sets in.

“Rome is magical year-round, but to beat the heat in the summer, explore the city early before everyone wakes up, and spend time quietly admiring the stillness—it won’t last long!” says Indagare’s Paxton Zweifel who called the city home for two years. Early birds will be thrilled to learn that, between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., travelers can get in a pleasant, uncrowded walking tour of the city’s fly-by sites, such as the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.

One site that is best reached as early as possible is Vatican City. While the Vatican Museums do not open until 8:30 a.m., St. Peter’s Basilica opens its doors at 7:00 a.m, so those hoping to avoid swarms of tourists can start early with the Basilica and reach the museums by opening.

Travelers put off by such an early wakeup call can at least rest easy knowing that Rome’s other sites don’t open 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. The Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum open at 9:00 a.m., and we recommend arriving 15 minutes before opening to fit everything in before the sun reaches its peak.

Note: Palatine Hill is best saved for last as it has the most shady areas and seating opportunities compared to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. However, the heat sensitive will likely find it overwhelming at midday so morning is still preferable.

Midday & Early Afternoon

When the sun reaches its apex, it’s time to embrace the Roman siesta. Travelers should take some time to enjoy the amenities back at the hotel (especially those with a pool) or just sit down for a lengthy indoor lunch.

The worst of the heat is likely to last several hours, so those who would rather maximize their city time, rather than relax, have several options for indoor activityies to pair with lunch. Rome is home to some of our favorite museums, and though they may not have the kind of air conditioning museums in the U.S. might, they still offer a reprieve from the sunny streets.

Top Museums:

  • Galleria Borghese for some of Bernini’s most incredible sculptures, as well as paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and more—this museum is set in the beautiful Borghese Gardens, which have ample shade for those still craving a bit of fresh air.
  • Galleria Doria Pamphilj for opulent royal interiors, frescoes and paintings
  • Capitoline Museums, for an impressive collection of historical art, artifacts and archaeological findings from Ancient Rome
  • Palazzo Corsini, for a baroque palace filled with frescoes, stucco, paintings and sculpture

Related: When In Rome: Siesta, Shakerato, Spritz

Evening

When 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. rolls around and the heat begins to wane, travelers who retreated to their hotels or to lunch can head back out to finish up their outdoor city touring. Note that early evening will still be warmer than early morning, as the streets retain the midday heat. However, the lack of direct sunlight makes this a fine time to do a bit of wandering to Rome’s quicker sites (like the Pantheon and Piazza Navona) or to embark on a food tour or do a bit of shopping on Via del Corso (many shops are open until 8:00 p.m.).

Dinner is often not until 8:00 p.m. or later, and with the longer summer days, this can be a lovely time to dine alfresco either on a rooftop terrace or in the streets. (One rooftop to note is the lemon tree-lined Cecconi’s Terrazza at Soho House Rome.) Families with younger children will have the option of dining closer to 7:00 p.m. at some restaurants.

Summer in Rome is also the time of outdoor concerts and festivities, one of the most popular being the opera at the Baths of Caracalla. This set of ruins from 200 A.D. makes for an atmospheric backdrop to Rome’s evening operas, and the makeup of the baths keeps it cooler at night than some other outdoor venues.

Heat Breaks

Even with the perfect summer itinerary, a break from the heat (or two or three) may still be necessary. Luckily, most options are only going to enhance the experience. We’ve broken down three of our favorites.

Coffee

While it’s important to remember that no Roman drinks a cappuccino after noon, coffee is never off the table. Sitting down for a quick espresso shot or a granita di caffe—which resembles an American Frappuccino—is a great pick-me-up during a long day of touring. A few of our favorites include Roscioli Caffé and Sant Eustachio Caffè in the historic center and Panella l’Arte del Pane by the Colosseum, but cafés with quality coffee can be found all over the city.

Gelato

No trip to Rome is complete without gelato, and there are few better ways to cool off in the summer than with a stop at a gelateria. Unlike with coffee, however, there are gelatarias to seek out and ones to steer clear of. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any shops where the gelato is brightly colored and piled high in the window—the best places draw business with their quality, not their displays. (Also avoid letting the server suggest your size and overcharging you.) See a few of our picks below.

Churches

The reason why churches are such an excellent stop (either planned or spontaneous) on a summer itinerary is threefold: many have beautiful—if not famous—art and architecture; they allow you to stop in and get out of the heat (and seek out your favorite Caravaggio), and there’s a place to sit down. But with over 900 churches in Rome, not all are created equal, so we’ve included four we especially like.

  • San Luigi dei Francesi on Via della Scrofa, for Caravaggio’s St. Matthews collection
  • Santa Maria del Popolo in Piazza del Popolo, for works by Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini
  • Chiesa Nuova, near Piazza Navona, for its impressive painted dome by Pietro da Cortona and altarpieces by Barocci and Flemish master Rubens
  • Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio, near the Pantheon, for its illusion dome and charming Rococo piazza

Top Tips

Rome’s Drinking Fountains
The aqueducts of the Ancient Romans are legendary—but travelers may be surprised to learn that one of these aqueducts, Acqua Vergine, is still in use and sourcing free public drinking fountains across Rome. Hydration is essential during a Roman summer and these drinking fountains, called nasoni, make it easy for locals and tourists alike to keep their water bottles full and thirst quenched.

Identifying nasoni: There are over 2,500 nasoni in the city. Most are stone cylinders (though a few are faces carved into a wall), but all nasoni are best identified by the metal spout with a continuous flow of fresh, clean water. Travelers without a water bottle should seek out the nasoni with a second hole on top of the spout; plugging the main water flow will send the water out the top (much like a traditional water fountain in the U.S.), making it easy for drinking.

Map of Rome’s Nasoni

Note: Nasoni are not to be mistaken with the many famous fountains around Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain and the fountains in Piazza Navona. Travelers are not allowed to drink from or enter these fountains.

Avoid Lunch Alfresco
Dreams of Rome often include dining on cobblestone terraces with an Aperol Spritz or a glass of wine. But in the summer, it is best to reserve outdoor dining for early mornings and evenings and enjoy lunches indoors to avoid the midday heat.

Dressing for Church
Covering up is still standard in the vast majority of Italian churches, basilicas and cathedrals, which can conflict with the lighter, less conservative clothing that is most comfortable for bearing the city heat. We recommend that women carry a lightweight scarf or wrap with them to cover shoulders and knees when necessary that can be easily tucked away for the majority of the day.

Don’t Forget
Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats are musts to shield against a sun.

Keep in Mind

Air Conditioning
A/C is used  conservatively in Italy. Aside from grocery stores, department stores and Indagare favorite hotels, most places will have light to no A/C.

The Thing About Ice
The majority of drinks, especially water, will be served cold but without ice. The only drinks that will come with ice are select cocktails such as an Aperol Spritz.

Where to Stay

Rome has many exceptional luxury properties, but when summer rolls around you may want to choose a property with a pool or opt for a hotel with a relaxing spa and a shaded rooftop or garden terrace to retreat from the heat.

For a Full-Service Resort and Outdoor Pool: Rome Cavalieri
Though this property is a half-hour drive from the city’s main sites, it makes up for it with panoramic hilltop views of Rome, lush surrounding gardens and, most importantly, its four pools, which include the expansive main outdoor pool, two family-friendly outdoor pools and an indoor pool. There are also tennis courts on property.

For an Indoor Pool, Spa and Terrace: Sister Properties Hotel de Russie & Hotel de la Ville
Hotel de Russie, just off the Piazza del Popolo, is perhaps best known for its dreamy garden terrace, but its hidden gem is the indoor salt water pool at the spa. Sister property, Hotel de la Ville perched above the Spanish steps has an interior courtyard and rooftop terrace (both with ample umbrellas for shade) as well as a spa with an ice fountain and small plunge pool.

For a Roman Bath Circuit: Six Senses Rome
A new addition in the heart of Rome’s historic center, the Six Senses Rome is a contemporary oasis with a rooftop garden terrace and a modernized take on the Roman baths in their spa—plus an ice fountain to cool off in between baths.

For a Classic Spa: The Hassler Hotel and Elizabeth Unique Hotel
Atop the Spanish Steps, the Hassler Hotel has a luxe Amorvero Spa as well as a rooftop restaurant, with both an outdoor terrace and indoor area with large windows to maximize the views. Further into Tridente, Elizabeth Unique Hotel is a wellness-focused property that, in addition to its spa, has spa suites where guests can relax in their whirlpool bathtub and receive in-room treatments.

La Posta Vecchia. Courtesy Pellicano Hotels

La Posta Vecchia. Courtesy Pellicano Hotels

For a Seaside City Escape: La Posta Vecchia
Between 30 and 50 minutes from Rome’s top attractions, La Posta Vecchia is an idyllic property on the Tyrrhenian sea that channels a Roman Palazzo experience—think hedge-lined gardens, Roman tapestries and a beach club with both a seafront terrace and indoor pool with sea views. They also have day passes available for those desiring a day trip.

Coming soon… Indagare favorite Hotel Eden is working on a partnership that will give hotel guests pool access.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning your next Roman Holiday. Our team can help match you to the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

– Abby Sandman on July 19, 2023

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