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. It will be cold, and it will likely rain some days while you are here. But there are sometimes some gorgeous bright sunny days too!
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:
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!
This waterproof winter rain hat for men is similar to what my husband wears. When it's raining in Rome, he doesn't leave home without it!
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.
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!
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.
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!
As every month, 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 every month, 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 4, 2018, you can visit these sites for free.
Even though February is low season, you should still book in advance for Galleria Borghese.
On the last Sunday of every month, it is free to visit the Vatican Museums.
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!)
On Sunday, February 25, 2018, you can visit the Vatican Museums for free.
Depending on when Easter falls, February can be full of Vatican-related events. There are various additional Papal Audiences and Masses held at the Vatican, so check their schedule to see if you will be here for one of them, in case you'd like to try for tickets.
The big one of course is Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 14 in 2018. Visit my page about Easter in Rome for more.
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 2018:
Don't miss this special exhibit of Monet paintings at the Complesso del Vittoriano. There will be over 60 works from the Parisian Musée Marmottan Monet, by the father of Impressionism, many from home at Giverny.
Through February 11 2018. Prolonged through June 2018!
Mon - Thu 9:30am - 7:30pm
Fri - Sat 9:30am - 10pm
Sun 9:30 am - 8:30 pm
Tickets are 15€. Advance booking highly recommended for this popular exhibit.
Enjoy - Art Meets Amuseument - at the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante, now through February 25 2018.
The Chiostro del Bramante is behind Piazza Navona, on Via Arco della Pace, 5. T. +39 06 915 19 41
Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm. 13€ includes audioguide.
February 4, HELD-OVER! February 20 2018, you can enjoy a spectacular exhibit of most of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's works, all in one place! AND, the museum will be open Monday February 19. There is still time to see this amazing exhibit!
Over 70 of his pieces are on loan to the Galleria Borghese, from around the world, including paintings, clay, wood and bronze models, his last sculptures, and much more. It's an extraordinary show and not to be missed if you love this Baroque master!
Tickets 20€ + 2€ reservation fee. Click here to buy tickets now.
Check out this extraordinary collection of I Grandi Maestri. 100 Anni di fotografia Leica (great masters, 100 years of Leica photography), with more than 350 original vintage prints by renowned photographers.
At the Complesso del Vittoriano. Through February 18, 2018. 12€
Monday to Thursday 9.30 am - 7.30 pm
Friday and Saturday 9.30 am - 10.00 pm
Sunday 9.30 am - 8.30 pm
Enjoy listening to famous opera songs in the stunning and exclusive Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
The show includes drinks and dinner.
See the "Three Tenors" in a beautiful church setting.
You will be treated to three of Rome's most famous tenors singing some of the best-known and loved songs of Italian opera.
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 2018, the Rome Opera House will show Verdi's I Masnadieri through February 4, Verdi's La Traviata February 24 - March 4, Bellini's Sonnambula February 18 - March 3, and others. 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.
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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