Coming to Rome in February? Yes, it's cold, but there is a lot that's great about visiting Rome this time of year! The best part is no crowds. But there's more . . .
Here's what you need to know:
For some reason people seem to think it snows in Rome in February.
Could it be because of the unusual snowstorm we had in February 2012? That was a doozie! It lay down several feet of snow, and paralyzed the city for days. Even the Colosseum was closed for about a week.
But really, it only snows in Rome about every 20-30 years, so don't worry too much about this.
This is what I wear when I walk around Rome, and I walk around Rome a lot, in all seasons and in all kinds of weather. These are my personal recommendations for your visit to Rome in February:
Aside from the usual packing stuff you should bring for Rome, don't forget to pack:
My husband inspired me to get a rain hat. He was always wearing one for walking around Rome, and I got one for myself too! I love this one because it's quilted perfect for cold winter rain (or snow!)
This waterproof rain boonie hat is similar to what my husband wears. When it's raining in Rome, he doesn't leave home without it!
I own these e-tip gloves and just love them. They are perfect for cold weather, and I can keep them on while I use my phone to make calls or take pix.
I've washed them more than once, and they look brand new.
A scarf is a must at any time of year in Rome. In winter, I love having a large pashmina which I find more versatile than just an oblong scarf. And I like a blend of cashmere and silk because it's not overly hot, and it doesn't make me itch.
Bonus - these are great for the plane ride too!
In Italy, men wear scarves year-round. It's partly for the fashion and mostly because Italians have a firm belief in always keeping your neck warm.
Unless you have a need for anything fancier, the best jacket you can wear when sight-seeing in Rome in February is a water-proof hiking jacket, with removable lining.
I have several for when I hike, and I wear them in Rome in winter. They are perfect! Mine are Colombia (like the one pictured) and North Face but there are a lot of great brands.
Here is a men's version of the same kind of jacket: waterproof, sporty, and with removable lining. It's actually 3 jackets in one!
It doesn't hurt to travel in Rome (or anywhere) with a good travel umbrella. You can always buy one here, even off a street vendor.
I love mine, that has features like wind-resistant ribs, and a cool open AND close button.
A warm cardigan, pullover, or turtleneck is a good idea.
Even when you take off your jacket, you will still be warm and cozy.
A half-zip or full-zip fleece is another way to be warm and comfortable while sight-seeing in Rome.
It's also easy to pack in your luggage, and to ball up and carry around in a small backpack.
For Rome in February, don't forget to include the following items in your packing list:
For more ideas, visit my page about What to Pack for Rome, with downloadable packing list.
The key is to be comfortable. I cannot stress highly enough how important it is to wear comfortable shoes. So make sure you bring good, comfortable socks, too. I suggest sturdy hiking shoes or similar. And if they are waterproof or water-resistant, even better.
The other key is layering. When it gets sunny during the middle of the day, you may want to shed a layer or two.
Jeans, or heavy cotton or wool trousers, are perfect for everyone.
It's really chilly in the early morning and at night (can be freezing), so wear a sweater, jacket, hat, scarves and gloves. During the day, when sight-seeing, you might want to use a large bag or backpack you can pop your scarf/gloves/hat into if it's sunny out.
I'd suggest carrying a small umbrella in case of rain (or snow), but even if you don't, you can always buy one on the street if you need to.
Did I mention to wear comfortable shoes? And socks? It merits repeating!
February is low season in Rome, and you can expect to have a lot of the top sites to yourself.
This is without a doubt the best reason to visit Rome in February!
But there is also a lot going on during this month, so either join in the fun, or be aware of it in case you want to avoid the crowds.
Carnival, which is during the week before Lent, mostly seems to be about children dressing up and throwing confetti in the streets. In Rome, I mean! In Venice it is a whole other thing, and if you really want to experience Carnival at its fullest, then I suggest you combine a visit to Venice with your Rome visit.
I did not even know about Six Nations rugby before I moved to Rome, let alone that Italy has a team! But it's kind of a big deal, and when the games are here, the weekend becomes pretty busy in Rome.
And while Valentine's Day is not technically a holiday, it does tend to bring people to Rome for a romantic getaway. And if it's on a weekend, and particularly if coinciding with a Six Nations match, it may be busier than usual that weekend in Rome.
On Sunday, February 2, 2020, there will be a Papal Mass for the "Feast of the Presentation of the Lord - Holy Mass".
Mass is at 17:30 inside St. Peter's Basilica.
Depending on when Easter falls, February can have a few Vatican-related events, such as Ash Wednesday.
In 2020, Ash Wednesday falls on February 26. You may attend this Papal Mass. It's free but you need a ticket.
If you read my site, you know that I love eating foods in season in Italy, which is how most Italians eat them as well.
Of course winter fruits and vegetables are in season now. This includes apples, pears, oranges, pomegranates, cauliflower, broccoli and squash. Again, if you've been reading my site, you know I am a big fan of these two winter foods: artichokes and puntarelle (chicory salad with anchovy garlic dressing.)
Rome in February also means it's time for Carnevale treats: castagnole and frappe.
They are fried and they are sugary, which goes oh so well with the cold brisk February air in Rome!
Both castagnole and frappe are fried dough with sugar, but in different ways.
Castagnole are puffy and soft, coated with granulated sugar. Frappe are crunchy, topped with powdered sugar. You will find these in almost any pasticceria (pastry shop) in Rome in February.
If you want a real in-depth view of foods in season in Rome in February, head over to my friends' website at Casa Mia.
If you are really into food (aren't we all?), why not take a food tour in Rome? You will learn a lot and get to eat yummy stuff along the way!
Some of my favorite seasonal things to eat in Rome in winter include broccoletti (like broccoli rabe), puntarelle (chicory salad you will find only in Rome), artichokes, clementines, and Sicilian blood oranges.
Want to know more about Rome cuisine? Click here.
You can count on two dates for major sites to be open in Rome for free. Just remember, crowds will be considerably bigger on these dates!
On the first Sunday of February, state sites and museums are free for everyone. This includes archeological sites like the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracalla and Ostia Antica; and museums like the Galleria Borghese and Palazzo Barberini.
On Sunday, February 2, 2020, you can visit these sites for free.
On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open from 9am - 2pm (normally closed Sundays.)
If you are on a tight schedule and this is the only day you can go, or if you are on 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.
In 2020, the Vatican Museums will be free and open on Sunday February 23. Expect large crowds on this day, even in February.
St. Peter's Basilica and Square are free and open daily.
The whole city is alive and hopping in February, so you can enjoy all the best museums and indoor sites to your heart's content. Here are some special things happening in Rome in February 2020:
Bacon, Freud and the school of London - Works from TATE
At the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante, now through February 23, 2020.
The Chiostro del Bramante is behind Piazza Navona, on Via Arco della Pace, 5. T. +39 06 915 19 41
Click the picture to visit the museum's official site.
Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm.
13€ includes audioguide. No advance booking required.
At the Museum of Rome – Palazzo Braschi you can visit an exhibition-event focused on the link between Antonio Canova and the city of Rome, with over 170 works and prestigious loans from important museums and Italian and foreign collections.
Now through March 2020, Palazzo Braschi 10,Piazza di San Pantaleo.
Open daily, from 9.30am to 7pm. Last admission 1 hour before closing time.
Tickets from € 11.00 (reduced).
Secret Impressionists now through 8 March 2020.
Bonaparte Palace - General Space Value Culture, Piazza Venezia 5.
Hours: Monday to Friday 9am - 7pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am - 9pm.
Full price tickets € 17.50.
The first major exhibition entirely dedicated to the history and civilization of one of the most powerful and fascinating cities in the ancient world, Carthage. The immortal myth.
Now through March 29, 2020 in the monumental spaces of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, inside the temple of Romulus and the Imperial Ramp.
This is part of a standard Colosseum/Roman Forum entry ticket. There is no additional cost. Click here to buy tickets to the Colosseum.
Open daily 8:30am - 4:30pm.
An extraordinary selection of figured wall plates and polychrome terracotta molded architectural decorations.
Centrale Montemartini, Via Ostiense, 106, February 1st and 2nd, 2020. Tuesday-Sunday 9:00am - 7pm.
Tickets from € 9.00.
Enjoy listening to famous opera songs in the stunning and exclusive Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
The show includes drinks and dinner.
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.
Take in an opera or ballet.
In February 2020, the Rome Opera House will show Vincenzo Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues), tribute to a ballet master in Serata Jerome Robbins with his Glass Pieces, with a host of stars, including Rebecca Bianchi and Eleonora Abbagnato, and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.
Click here for tickets and further details.
Enjoy a opera singing by Orchestra I Virtuosi dell’opera di Roma inside the church of St. Paul's within the Walls.
These wonderful opera singers put on a mini-production of "La Traviata", in full costume.
Listen to classic arias and duets by Italian opera greats Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini, in the gorgeous Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
A special private tour of the Princess' apartment is included.
Visit the extraordinary Capuchin Crypt, then head into the recently restored church to listen to sacred music in a gorgeous setting.Wednesday afternoons.
Maybe it's your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time in Rome. Or you have more than 3 days here. Or you just want to see and do lots of fun things.
Besides the obvious must-see tourist attractions, there are lots of great things to see and do in Rome! Here are some ideas for your visit:
Take a cooking class.
There are so many great options for taking cooking classes in Rome! From pizza-making to learning to make fresh pasta, to going shopping with the chef and making a home-cooked meal at his/her house!
We are close to so many things, like Pompeii, Ostia Antica, Tivoli, Florence and much more!
Take a bicycle tour.
You can go out onto the Appia Antica, a lovely area to tour by bike. You can also try one of Rome's newest tours, by electric bike! What a great way to see the sites, get some exercise but not get too over-exerted!
Take an art class.
This is all the rage now. You want to learn to fresco? sketch? make mosaics? How about pottery? Want to include a little wine-sipping with your art? Rome inspires! Get creative!
It's always a good idea to visit one of Rome's wonderful museums. And in winter, what a great way to stay warm!
Of course there are the Vatican Museums, where you will see the Sistine Chapel.
February is a great time to visit the Galleria Borghese, with its amazing Bernini sculptures and Caravaggio paintings.
You should be able to book even on the same day you want to visit (but book ahead just in case.)
One of my favorite museums in Rome is the Capitoline Museums. These museums comprise some of the most extensive and comprehensive displays of painting, sculpture, artefacts and architecture in the world.
The museums are vast and they can easily take up an entire day. So if it's cold and rainy out, this is a great place to be. There is also a cafe on the roof, with spectacular views towards St. Peter's basilica, the synagogue and the Pantheon. And from the tabularium, you have amazing views of the Roman Forum...which, when it's icky out, can be beautiful if you are seeing it from the inside!
Open daily from 9:30am - 7:30pm. 15€. No need to book in advance.
This is the time of year I'd visit St. Peter's tomb under the Vatican. Why? Because I went in August one year thinking it would be "cool", and instead I was roasting. They seal you into every room you go into, so it's quite hot.
So in cold February, this is not only a great thing to see, but a great way to be warm in an awesome place!
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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