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Rome in March
2017 Version

Coming to Rome in March? Plan for it to be a little chilly and rainy...March is still mostly a winter month! But it's also the calm before the storm...the crowds are not quite here yet but they are on the way.

Rome in March - At a Glance

Here's what you need to know:

Weather in Rome Italy in March

I've lived in Rome since 2001. It never fails. Every single year, on March 1, I somehow expect it to be spring, because "March is a spring month." The reality is that it's never spring in the beginning of March.

Neither technically (Spring begins on March 22), nor meteorologically. I am always chagrined to find the beginning of March full of blustery cold days, with plenty of rain and chill, and sometime sleet.

via margutta in mid-marchVia Margutta in mid-March, lots of bare branches, and grey skies

And I think this is one reason the beginning of March is still low season. It is, after all, still winter. And school vacations are not in swing yet.

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But there is inevitably one day in March, it changes from year to year, sometime late in the first half, when I start seeing all the tour buses all around Rome. And school groups. And then I know. Spring is almost here, and high season is just around the corner.

wistera appia anticaBy the end of March in Rome, wisteria starts appearing everywhere, like here on the Appia Antica

As for rain, well yes, March can be a rainier month than others, because it's spring/pre-spring. But it's hit or miss, and sometimes you just have glorious blue-sky days in March in Rome.

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What to Pack for Rome in March

I walk around Rome year-round. I walk to and from work. I walk (jog - ahem) for exercise. And I just walk as much as I can because, well, it's Rome! So believe me I know how to dress in Rome, in any month...

These are my personal recommendations for your visit to Rome in March, which I own or use:

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March in Rome can be rainy. It's good to come prepared. A rain-hat can be the perfect packable accessory - it doesn't take up much room but is so useful when you need it!

This rain-hat for men is a lot like the one my husband wears. He loves it and I don't blame him.

Winter months, and especially shoulder-months like March, can have very varying temps and weather. That's why a versatile water-proof hiking jacket with removable fleece lining is one of the best items you can pack for Rome in March.

Here's a men's version of the above jacket. I love these for winter and early spring. It's like having 3 jackets in one, and also perfect for being comfortable while sight-seeing!

If you like carrying a money-belt, this is a cool, water-proof pouch where you can put all your valuables. It's also a good option for when you visit sites like the Vatican, Colosseum and Galleria Borghese, where you are not allowed to bring in large bags or backpacks.

Another handy thing to pack for rainy weather in Rome is a light rain poncho. I've seen so many people shelling out money to street vendors when it rains unexpectedly in Rome. Bring your own and come prepared!

It's really easy to just buy a cheap umbrella on the streets when it starts raining in Rome. Umbrella sellers appear out of nowhere and sell small and large umbrellas. And that's fine for a quick fix, but the quality of those umbrellas is not great. If you want to come prepared with your own travel umbrella, get a quality umbrella that will last. I love mine that has an open AND close button.

What to Wear in Rome in March

March is one of those months that can have wildly varying weather days, and even a lot of variation during any given day. So layering is a good idea. One of your layers should be a waterproof jacket.

And don't forget the scarf! Men and women, yes, a scarf. Trust me.

how people dress in march in romeHow people dress in Rome in March - jackets, layers and scarves!

Jeans or other heavy cotton pants are great since it's still quite cool in March. It's also a good idea to have some light cotton short-sleeved shirts, like t-shirts and polos, so that when you are layering, you could get down to bare arms if it's really nice and warm out.

As always, be comfortable: wear comfortable walking shoes, good socks, breathable fabrics, and enough layers to keep you warm.

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March in Rome - What to Expect

Is it crowded in March in Rome?

The first half of March will still be wintery cold, certainly at night. And March is a rainy month, so be prepared. But in those first two weeks, it's also still fairly quiet in Rome. Not a lot is happening just yet.

If you come the second two weeks, be prepared for crowds, in particular school groups.

What's Happening in Rome in March

mimosa tree in romeThese mimosa trees flower in late winter, and are full of blooms in time for International Women's Day, March 8

March 8 is International Women's Day, a major international holiday around the world (for some reason that escapes me, it's barely heard of in the US.)

Although it's not a bank holiday, it's still widely recognized.

The thing you should know about International Women's Day in Rome is that the tradition is to give some mimosa flowers to the women in your life. So in early March, you will see a lot of these flowers for sale in Rome.

Sunday March 26 2017 is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. We LOSE one hour.

Be aware of this if you have any Sunday morning plans, like a tour or flight!

Foods in Season in Rome in March

It is still artichoke season (globe artichokes), but you will also still see plenty of winter greens too: puntarellebroccoletti, broccolo romanesco, and chicory. Asparagus and strawberries are also starting to show up.

There is also a very particular green to get in early spring: agretti. Agretti look like grass, taste like spinach and are a very seasonal, very Roman green. 

agretti al limone at settimio al pellegrinoAgretti al limone (simply boiled and served with lemon and olive oil), at Settimio al Pellegrino in Rome

For a really detailed and complete listing of fruits and vegetables in season in Rome in March, visit my friends' fabulous website Casa Mia.

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Rome in March - things to do

March is still cool and that means it's great sight-seeing weather. So one of the best things you can do in Rome in March is be a tourist, and enjoy the city and sites on foot!

Free Things to do in Rome in March

Every first Sunday of the month, state-run museums, archeological sites in Italy are free. For a complete listing (in Italian only) of all the sites and museums that are free on March 5, 2017, visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.

And, as a bonus, on March 8 the same museums and archaeological sites are free for women (only), in honor of International Women's Day (if you like to use/find hashtags, here it is: #8marzoalmuseo.)

For some of these sites, like the Galleria Borghese and Domus Aurea, you should book in advance. Click here to find out how to avoid the lines at the Colosseum.

On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open and they are free.

sistine chapel michelangeloSistine Chapel - Michelangelo Buonarotti 1508-1512

The hours are reduced (entry only from 9:00 - 12:30. The museums close at 2pm.) And unlike for other days, you cannot book tickets in advance. Even in low season, expect a line and crowds on the Free Sunday (remember, Romans like to visit this too!) In fact, I'd avoid this if you can, unless you are on a limited budget and/or schedule.

On Sunday, March 26, 2017, you may visit the Vatican Museums for free.

Remember, on the last Saturday/Sunday in March, we always move to Daylight Savings Time, and LOSE one hour!

Keep this in mind if you are planning to try to visit the Vatican Museums on the Free Sunday in March!

Vatican Events in March in Rome

st peters at easterSt Peters Square during Easter

In 2017, Easter is April 16

This means March will have some Easter-related dates.

Here is the schedule of Vatican events in Rome in March 2017:

  • Wednesday March 1: Ash Wednesday, Santa Sabina, 5pm

All liturgical celebrations, including the Papal Mass on Ash Wednesday require tickets.

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Exhibits and Shows in March in Rome

Following are some of the main art and culture exhibits in Rome in March.

At the Scuderie al Quirinale, now through March 2017, you can see a spectacular collection of art that was "appropriated" from Italy by Napoleon between 1796 to 1814...and later returned to Italy in 1816 when Napoleon fell. Much of the art that had been removed wound up in the Louvre, and some of it is still there. 

At this amazing exhibit you can see all in one place, many of the masterpieces that were returned to their rightful places in Italy. Works by Tintoretto, Canova, Perugino, Reni, Titian and many more. A must-see!

Sun - Thu 10am – 8pm, Fri - Sat 10am – 10:30pm; last admission one hour before closing time. 12€ adults. See their website for reduced rates, and pre-booking options.

The museum of the Ara Pacis (Augustus' Altar to Peace) is worth visiting all by itself. And now through October 2017, you can visit the museum on weekend nights, and check out "L'Ara Com'Era", which means, the Altar as it Was. Using special Virtual Reality visors, you can see this amazingly intact ancient monument to Augustus, with the original colors and designs, as they probably looked 2000 years ago. Visit the website for exact hours for this exhibit as they change throughout the year.

The museum is open daily from 9:30am - 7:30pm. 10,50€ for the museum, or 12€ for the weekend/night visit "L'Ara Com'Era." See the website about eligibility for discounts.

Now through May 7 2017, you have a chance to see works by Artmesia Gentileschi, one of the most important artists of the Baroque period, and the only female artist to rival the likes of Caravaggio and Carracci (from whom she took inspiration.)

The exhibit is showing in the wonderful museum, Palazzo Braschi, which sits on one end of Piazza Navona, and has views of the piazza from above (a bonus!)

Open Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 7pm. Closed Mondays. 11€

Van Gogh Alive - The Experience. This "multi-sensory" Van Gogh exhibit is in Rome. Now through March 2017, and showing at a venue in Trastevere, Palazzo degli Esami, Via Gerolamo Induno, 4.

Open Mon - Thu 10am - 8pm; Fri - Sat 10am - 11pm and Sun 10am - 9pm. €15 full price; €12 for people aged 6-12, students, over 65 and handicapped. Free for children under 6.

At the Complesso del Vittoriano (accessible from the via dei Fori Imperiali), check out the Giovanni Boldini exhibist of the beautiful art collection from the "Belle Epoque" painter. Through July 2017. 14€ tickets

The museum is open daily: Mon-Thu 9:30am - 7:30pm; Fri-Sat 9:30am - 10pm; Sun 9:30am - 8:30pm.

More Indoor Things to do in Rome in March

Take in an opera or ballet.

The Rome Opera House will show Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore through March 10 2017, in addition to other concerts, ballet and operas. Click here for tickets.

The Santa Cecilia hall, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, at the Rome Auditorium, is the perfect place to attend a concert. The complex is stunning, and for music lovers, the acoustics are just outstanding.

Click here for a schedule of concerts, and to buy tickets,

Visit one of Rome's many museums, including the Vatican MuseumsGalleria Borghese, Doria Pamphilj, and of course the Capitoline Museums...

I've listed some of what I think are the most fascinating events, and most central in Rome. For a complete list of events in Rome in February, visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.

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