Visiting in the Summer
June, July and August are popular months to take vacations and Rome might seem like the perfect to spend the summer.
However, between the sun that beat your face so hard, the heat that stop you from breathing, the big amount of tourists that invade famous sites and the long lines to entry monuments and even restaurants sometimes. Maybe it will be a better idea to consider the possibility to visit this beautiful city another time if the year. The weather might be a little be colder, but at least the city will be less crowded.
Carry a water bottle and an umbrella/hat
In Rome, the summer can be very hot. So even though, you choose to plan your trip during summer, I just have two tips for you. First, drink a lot of water. But don’t spend too much on water, even if water bottles only cost a couple bucks, it can add up very fast. Rome is famous for its beautiful fountains and you can find public little drinking fountains all around the city, so bring a refillable container and don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. These little fountains also called the ”nasoni”, which means “big noses”, provide a constant flow of water all day. They are public contains are perfectly safe, but pay attention to signs indicating “acqua non-potabile”, in English “non-potable water”. My second tips is, carry an umbrella or a hat all times with you. The sun can be brutal in Rome during the summer and you have to protect yourself. The sun shines can be very dangerous and if you plan to chill in the city all the afternoon especially between you should be very careful. As I experienced it myself, a hot beating sun can be really annoying and ruin your day.
Avoid the lines to get into crowded attractions
Well, basically, we are talking about the Colosseum and the Vatican, that are the two most crowded attractions in Rome. The line to get into these monuments can be hours long and get stuck in a line, standing during hours, is for sure not the purpose of your trip to Rome.
So here is the solution to not waste hours of your precious time in the Eternal City:
For the Colosseum, instead of choosing the main entrance, buy your ticket at the entrance to the Roman Forum, which is just down the road that leads to the Colosseum. There is never a line for that entrance like the one to get into the Colosseum itself. Just buy your ticket into the forum, visit the forum, and then go to the Colosseum where the same ticket will get you in.
For the Vatican Museums, buy your ticket online. If you’re there in the summer, you’ll bypass one of the longest lines you’ve ever seen. At the Vatican, it’s a separate entry line, a regular one in which you will have to waiting a second line for those with the timed entry reservations. You can find several websites where you can purchase entry tickets, but choose the official one, just for a question of security (biglietteriamusei.vatican.va). It will cost you a few extra euros in processing fees, 4 or 5 € if I remember well, but at least you will save time and as you will have to pick a specific time slot, you will be able to plan easily the rest of your day.
In Italy, you don’t have to tip. Well waiters will not refuse a tip, of course, but it’s really not a necessity as you are possibly already paying a an extra on your bill to cover “service charges”. If you want to have the Italian style, just tip for exceptional services, for example, if you are dining in a starred restaurant, but not for a coffee or a pizza.
Don’t touch the produces
Open air markets in Italy are great to explore and get into the hustle and bustle of everyday local life, and they are great for picking up some cheap snacks for lunch or for long walking days. But vendors get really annoyed if you touch their produce, so if you wish to purchase something you have to ask first and they will bag it up for you with plastic gloves. It’s exactly the same in supermarkets, there are plastic gloves provided in the vegetable and fruit departments to be used to handle the produce. If you don’t and you use your bare hands, don’t be surprised if you get into some trouble with employee or even clients.
If you don’t respect meal times (particularly at lunch time), it will be maybe hard to find open restaurants. In Italy, lots of restaurants, bars and shops have specific opening times and they close in the afternoon as they have specific opening times. If you want to eat at 2pm or 3pm, there will be a very limited selection of places opened. Try to eat as a local, lunch hour usually starts at 12-12.30 until 14-14.30. For dinner, the rule is simple, the more in the south you go, the later they will start eating. The perfect dinner time is at 20-20.30.
The easiest method of payment in Italy is by using cash. there are lots of places where they do not accept card payments for a bill under €10 and credit cards are not widely accepted so it is always best to carry some cash with you and small change.
Buy a ticket before boarding public transport
In lots of European cities you can buy a ticket from the driver on board the bus or tram. But in Italy you must have a ticket before you board or you will get a big fine if you are caught. The best thing to do is buy a couple of tickets the first day of your trip, then you don’t have to think about being one each time before taking a transportation. Tickets are only validated when you use them so they don’t expire and you can keep them so long after you’ve bought them.
When you are chilling in the streets of Rome pay attention too these people who are trying to give you “free” gifts. These gifts are not free at all and sometimes these sellers can be very annoying and aggressive. That leads to the next and last point…
Say “no” !
The only solution to escape of these street salespeople is to stay away from them as much as possible and to avoid direct eye contact. if even with that they happen to catch you just say no and keep walking. Personally, I really don’t like to ignore people, but after meeting some of these sometimes not respectful street sellers, I just decided that it was better to start acting that way.