Coming to Rome in September? You are in luck! September is one of the most beautiful months of the year here.
The city is coming back to life after the sleepy August holidays, and there is a touch of fall crispness in the evening air that makes it a wonderful time to enjoy Rome to its fullest, day and night.
Here's what you need to know about visiting Rome in September:
September is literally mostly a summer month. (Fall starts on the 23rd of September.)
It's strange but I find that nearly every year, from just about the first of September, the weather does in fact change: The days are still blue-sky, summer-hot but the nights are enjoyable and no longer uncomfortably hot and sticky.
This lasts about 2-3 weeks into September.
From the middle of September, or right around the beginning of fall, the weather in Rome is still lovely: warm/hot but comfortable during the day, and crisp evenings with that hint of fall just around the corner.
No matter which part of September you visit Rome, always be prepared to be flexible in your dress. These are my personal recommendations for what to pack for your visit to Rome in September:
Since most of September is a summer month, you may want to walk around Rome in shorts. But if you are visiting any church (that includes the Vatican and Vatican Museums), or other Christian site, you cannot have bare knees. These hiking pants with removable leg are perfect for a quick change.
Cotton, short-sleeved tops are easy to pack and easy to dress down for sight-seeing or up for going out in the evening!
T-shirts are the perfect thing to pack for Rome in September, since they are short-sleeved for warm weather, but still covering your shoulders.
A light cardigan is a must for travel to Rome in mid-September, and perfect for going from hot sunny days to cool evenings.
A cotton pullover is another way to be comfortable, flexible in changing temps during the day, and appropriately dressed for sightseeing in Rome.
Definitely, bring (or buy!) a light scarf and carry it with you. This can make a big difference when sitting outside on a piazza as the sun goes down and you feel the chill setting in.
Romans love to wear scarves to protect their necks from cold so if you whip out your scarf and twirl it around your neck as the evening air turns brisk, you will be living the Roman life indeed!
It doesn't rain a lot in September but it can. You may want to bring an umbrella although you can easily buy cheap umbrellas here.
Speaking of which, a light jacket or rain jacket is a great idea for visiting Rome in September. It's versatile easy to pack and carry around.
Here's a men's light rain jacket. You don't need a heavy jacket in September, but light, and water-resistant or waterproof is best.
You will probably want to have at least one pair of open-toed shoes/sandals (make sure they are super comfy for walking!)
Visit my page about What to Pack for Rome for more ideas and a packing list!
At the beginning of September, it will feel like August still, with pretty hot sticky days. But the nights and mornings are cooler. To sight-see in Rome in September, it's a good idea to wear light clothing, with the possibility to layer just a little bit.
Cotton pants, knee-length skirts/dresses, leggings are all comfortable and appropriate for visiting sites including the Vatican. In the first half of September it may be too hot for jeans unless they are very light, but by the end of September, you can wear jeans in Rome.
The most important things to wear in Rome in September are comfortable shoes, light, cotton clothing, and a cardigan and a scarf.
In September in Rome, you can expect beautiful weather, not too hot and not too cool, very little rain and fairly long summery days. You will be able to enjoy the sights without sweltering from the heat, lots of things are open late and you can still enjoy a lot of outdoor and nighttime things.
And, you may be surprised to find Rome in September is packed to the gills.
The first time I came to Rome in September (which is exactly when I met my now husband), I remember travelling with a friend, making our way down from Venice...and finding all the hotels in Florence, Siena and Rome fully booked! I could not understand it. I thought, but summer is over, everyone should be gone by now!
Well yes. The summer tourists were indeed gone.
Making it a beautiful time of year for the kind of visitor to Italy who craves a quieter, slower-paced experience here. These are the people whose vacations are not based on a school-year vacation schedule. And they come in droves. To avoid the summer crowds. And this makes September high season in Rome.
This being said, the very beginning of September is not quite high season yet. For about the first 5-6 days, you can expect mid-season rates on hotels, crowds that are not yet at their peak, and a nice sense of a town re-awakening.
Most of the restaurants have reopened from their August closure or are just reopening, and the city has the air of something about to happen.
A lot of delicious summer fruits and vegetables are still in season in September, so you are pretty spoiled for choice.
What's coming into season in September? September is the height of fig season in Rome. Expect to find fig gelato, and a very popular panino, fresh figs with prosciutto on pizza bianca.
Grapes have already been available but are also really coming into season in September. Remember, harvest time is just around the corner!
September is already a great time to sight-see in Rome. Like visit the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps etc. Everything is back open again, from the non-Catholic cemetery to the farmer's market at San Teodoro/Circus Maximus.
It's easy to be outside walking around, since it's not too hot or too cold, and it stays light until pretty late. But it also happens to still be summer, which means that you can enjoy some of the special summer things to do in Rome as well.
For me, one of the best things about September is that all my favourite Rome restaurants are open again!
Not that I didn't have a good time trying some of my many other faves that stayed open for part or all of August ... or even getting to try some new ones!
But those really old-fashioned Roman restaurants, like Armando, Trattoria Monti, Da Gino, Trattoria Stampa, Roberto e Loretta that close for the entire month of August all reopen "around the beginning of September". And I am ready for them!
Enjoy a real foodies' food-fair at Taste of Roma.
This 3-day event happens around the third week of September each year. In 2016 it's 15-18 September. Meet some of Rome's top chefs, try their food and in some cases, even cook with them! The Taste of Roma is at the Rome Auditorium, which is easily accessible by tram from piazza del Popolo.
September is a great blend of summer and approaching fall. If you are here in the beginning of September, you can still do some summery things like:
Go to Ostia beach!
Yes, it's still really beach weather. And the beaches are strangely uncrowded right from the 1st of September. This is definitely my favourite time visit the beach near Rome.
Go for a bike-ride in a park, along the Tiber river, or even in parts of the historic center of Rome.
September is excellent bike-ride weather: not too hot and not too cool. Why not take a bike-tour in Rome?
Spend some quality time relaxing in one of Rome's many beautiful parks, like the Borghese, Celimontana, villa Ada or even the wild and vast Caffarella park.
Enjoy the special summer-time-only nightlife along the Tiber.
Lungotevere Roma Estate is a really fun way to spend an evening, strolling from bar to restaurant to shop to gelateria, as the lights sparkle and the night turns cooler.
Open through mid September (tbd.)
For much of the summer, a lot of Rome's must-see monuments and museums offer night-visits. Crowds tend to be smaller, it can be a bit cooler, and the best part, Rome is just gorgeous when all lit up at night. And when better to see this than when you can enjoy it outside on a breezy summer's evening?
Most of these summer night-events go on through part or all of September. I'd definitely plan on at least one of these if you are coming to Rome this time of year!
On Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays all through September (and actually all through October too), you can visit the Coliseum from 8pm until midnight.
Visit the official site for purchasing tickets here.
From April through October (except August), the Vatican Museums are open late Friday nights: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm (last entrance at 9:30 pm.)
This is a beautiful way to visit the Vatican Museums but don't expect it to be that much less crowded than during the day. I did this once and it was fun but there were still a lot of people. Click here to book your tickets through the Vatican Museums website.
One of the most wonderful productions I've attended in summer is the super well-made light show at Augustus' Forum on the via dei Fori Imperiali. In a one-hour show, the narrators and light show bring to life the architecture of this amazing structure, along with the life and times of Rome's first Emperor. There is a second show at Caesar's Forum. You can watch one or both. Tickets and information here.
Easily one of the most beautiful night visits in summer, Castel Sant'Angelo is a treat, inside and out. It's a large museum and mausoleum, and once you visit the inside, you can make your way to where the angel is on top, and have a gorgeous lit up view of Rome. There is also a cafe up there. The Castle and the cafe are open Thursday - Sunday from 7-11pm through 25 September.
Every night at 20:30 in summer, through early October, you can attend concerts at Teatro di Marcello (Marcellus' Theater.) This beautiful structure was built around the same time as the Colosseum, which is why it has some similar architecture. At night, it's a beautiful setting in which to listen to music. For (badly designed site and only in Italian) program details and tickets, visit their site here (do a search for the word "settembre".)
You've got lots of fun, outdoors, summery and night-time things to do in September in Rome. Here are a few more...
Domenica al Museo - This means "Sunday at the Museum", and in this case, it refers to a special initiative in which many of Rome's state-run important monuments, archeological sites and museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.
On the 4th of September 2016, you can visit, for free, the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill; the Borghese Gallery (booking required); Ostia Antica, the Caracalla Baths, Palazzo Barberini, Castel Sant'Angelo, and many more museums and sites. For a complete list, visit the official page for Rome Tourism.
On the last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums are open and free. Hours are 9am - 2pm, with last entry at 12:30. No reservations are possible and tours don't go this day. If you don't show up long before 9am, you risk waiting more than an hour, even two, in line, and not getting in.
If you are on a tight schedule and this is the only day you can go, or a tight budget, then this is a great opportunity. But otherwise it is usually better to book your visit ahead of time and pay to go another day.
On Saturday and Sunday, 24 and 25 September, 2016, some Rome museums and archeological sites will participate in European Heritage Day.
A lot of sites and museums will be open Saturday September 24 until midnight, either for free or at a reduced rate.
In particular, open until midnight: The Pantheon (free), Palazzo Altemps, Galleria Spada.
On September 16, they will release information about which sites are open late and participating. You can follow the event on social with hashtag #GEP2016. You may also wish to visit the official website of the Beni Culturali, which shows the many appointments for special tours that day in Rome (Italian only.)
La Conserva della Neve is opening their Secret Garden in the Villa Borghese.
September 17-18 2016 inclusive, in the Parco dei Daini, from 9am to 7:30pm each day, you can visit the secret cultivated gardens normally closed to the public. There will be plenty of events as well, including lots of things to do for children, and biological food and drink available throughout. Visit the site for more (English is halfway down the page.)
Recently there has been an extraordinary effort to fix up at least a part of the Tiber River bank. South African artist William Kentridge has turned this piece of the river into an open-air art show of murals called "Triumphs and Laments." (If you want to read more about it, see this New York Times article.)
So you can go down to the Tiber and check it out. But you can also visit one of Rome's modern art museums, Macro, to see more. Now through October 2016.
Via Nizza 138. Open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30am - 7:30pm. Closed Mondays. 11€
The beginning of September is a very interesting time to shop in Rome! First of all, the sales are (officially) over. But lots of stores have stuff on sale inside. You just have to go look for it, usually in the back. Yes, it's the last bits, but so what. You never know what bargains you could find.
Second of all, all the new fall and winter fashions are out. So if you feel like being ahead of the curve back home, there's no better time than now to get the hot new stuff before it's gone. (They don't tend to replenish stock in shops in Italy, they just get new things in.)
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