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.
Here's what you need to know:
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 (in fact, spring technically begins on March 20).
I am always chagrined to find the beginning of March full of blustery cold days, with plenty of rain and chill, and sometime sleet.
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.
But there is inevitably one day in March - it changes from year to year - sometime late in the first half, when I start seeing tour buses all around Rome. And school groups.
And then I know.
Spring is almost here, and high season is just around the corner.
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.
I walk around Rome year-round. I walk to and from the center when I'm meeting friends, taking a tour, or visiting a site. 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, many of which I own and use:
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 more packing tips, and a downloadable packing list, visit my page about What to Pack for Rome.
For sight-seeing in March in Rome, here is the ideal way to dress:
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.
Jeans or other heavy cotton pants are great since it's still cool in March. I also suggest wearing a light cotton short-sleeved shirt, like t-shirt or polo, so you could get down to bare arms if it gets warm out.
As always, be comfortable: wear comfortable walking shoes, good socks, breathable fabrics, and enough layers to keep you warm.
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.
But you should plan for it, and book some things ahead.
There are some things that happen every March in Rome. Here are some dates to watch for:
March 8 - International Women's Day, a major international holiday around the world (for some reason that escapes me, it's barely heard of in the U.S.).
Although it's not a bank holiday, it's still widely recognized.
The tradition is to give some mimosa flowers to the women in your life. In early March, you will see a lot of these flowers for sale in Rome.
March 9 - the Feast Day of St. Frances of Rome. She founded an order called the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, and eventually the Tor de' Specchi monastery, right near Capitoline Hill.
The monastery is only open on March 9 each year. It's free to visit but you may find a line and some crowds. But it's really worth a look if you are in Rome that day.
March 19 - Father's Day in Italy. It's called La Festa di San Giuseppe. Giuseppe is Italian for Joseph and of course Father's Day here is named for the one of the most famous fathers, at least in Catholic history.
Why is this important if you're visiting Rome in March? Why, because you will want to load up on, or at least try, some bignet di San Giuseppe, which are pastry bombs filled with cream. A must!
The last Sunday of March is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in Europe (this date differs from the U.S. and some other parts of the world). We LOSE one hour.
Be aware of this if you have any Sunday morning plans, like a tour or flight.
The Rome Marathon, usually held around either the last Sunday in March or first Sunday in April, will be held on Sunday March 29 2020.
This really won't affect you much unless you run the marathon, or are staying or planning any cultural visits near the route. For more info, visit the official website of the Maratona di Roma.
It is still artichoke season (globe artichokes), but you will also still see plenty of winter greens too: puntarelle, broccoletti, 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.
For a detailed listing of fruits and vegetables in season in Rome in March, visit my friends' fabulous website Casa Mia.
Some of my favorite seasonal things to eat in Rome in March include artichokes and agretti (pictured above), and Sicilian blood oranges.
Want to know more about Rome cuisine? Click here.
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.
On the first Sunday of every month, state sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Castel Sant'Angelo and many more are free for everyone.
For more details, visit my page about the Free Sunday here.
Unlikely Free Dates in March - Updating for 2020
On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open and they are free.
On Sunday, March 29, 2020, 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.
Expect large crowds on this day, especially in March.
Following are some of the main art and culture exhibits in Rome in March 2020:
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 15, 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.
Raffaello - A monographic exhibition, with over two hundred masterpieces of paintings, drawings and comparative works, dedicated to Raphael on the 500th anniversary of his death.
March 5, 2020 - June 2, 2020.
Scuderie del Quirinale, Via XXIV Maggio 16.
Open: sun - Thu 10am - 8pm; Fri - Sat 10am – 10:30pm.
Full € 15.00; Reduced (ages 18-25) € 13.00.
Free admission up to 6 years, and anyone disabled and their care-giver, with written medical proof.
Click the photo to visit the official site.
BANKSY A VISUAL PROTEST - at the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante, now through 26 July 2020.
The Chiostro del Bramante is behind Piazza Navona, on Via Arco della Pace, 5. Phone: +39 06 915 19 41 and + 39 06 68 80 90 35.
Click the picture to visit the museum's official site.
Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm.
Full ticket 15€ includes audioguide. No advance booking required.
The museum of the Ara Pacis (Augustus' Altar to Peace) is worth visiting all by itself.
Check out the great exhibition at the Ara Pacis Once upon a time there was Sergio Leone, with which Rome celebrates, 30 years after his death and 90 since his birth.
Now through May 2020. Exhibition only Tickets from € 11.00.
You can also 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.
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.
See the "La Traviata The Original Opera with Ballet" in a beautiful church setting.
You will be treated to a show performed by Opera e Lirica singers with choir, orchestra and ballet
Take in an opera or ballet.
In March 2020, the Rome Opera House will show Giacomo Puccini's Turandot and The Corsair.
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.
Don't miss famed English singer-songwriter James Blunt on his 2020 tour.
March 28, 2020.
Buy tickets here. From 41.40€.
Immerse yourself in the art and inventions of one of history's most famous inventors and artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.
While you tour, you'll hear music from da Vinci's time, played on historically accurate instruments. At the end, you will be treated to a live concert.
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.
Fans of the Baroque will love this beautiful concert inside Borromini's stunning basilica on Piazza Navona.
You'll be treated first to a short guided tour of this masterpiece, followed by a concert of Baroque music.
Enjoy beautiful Vivaldi music in the lovely setting of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
Tour the private apartments of the Princess Doria Pamphilj.
Enjoy Rome: A Night At The Opera Experience listening to masterpieces of Vivaldi, La Traviata, or Rigoletto whilst seated in fantastic and innovative locations such as cathedrals, museums, or Roman ruins.
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 in March. 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.
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 March, visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.