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 22).
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.
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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 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 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, many of which I own and use:
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.
Winter months, and especially shoulder-season 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.
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 easy to 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.
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.
There are some things that happen every March in Rome. Here are some dates to watch for:
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 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 is 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 is 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 father's, 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 Savings 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.
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.
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.
Every first Sunday of the month, state-run museums, archeological sites in Italy are free. For a complete listing of all the sites and museums that are free on March 4, 2018, 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.)
On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open and they are free.
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 25, 2018, you can visit the Vatican Museums for free.
In 2018, Easter is April 1.
This means March will have some Easter-related dates.
Here is the schedule of Vatican events in Rome in March 2018:
All liturgical celebrations, including events above (with the exception of the via Crucis) require tickets.
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 "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.
Take in an opera or ballet.
The Rome Opera House will show La Traviata, Figaro, Pagliacci in March 2018, in addition to other concerts, ballet and operas. Click here for tickets.
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.
Following are some of the main art and culture exhibits in Rome in March 2018:
I have just been to the opening of this show and it's incredible! A unique mix of immersion theater, with live actors, ballet, modern dance, original music by Sting, and more. I cannot recommend this enough, especially if you are as big a fan of Michelangelo as I am.
Don't miss this special exhibit of Monet paintings at the Complesso del Vittoriano. There are over 60 works from the Parisian Musée Marmottan Monet, by the father of Impressionism, many from home at Giverny.
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.
At the Scuderie al Quirinale - Hiroshige, Visions of Japan. From March 1 - July 2018.
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.
TURNER - Works from Tate - at the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante, from March 22 - August 26, 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.
The museum of the Ara Pacis (Augustus' Altar to Peace) is worth visiting all by itself.
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.
At the Complesso del Vittoriano - Liu Bolin, The "Invisible Man".
Bolin applies intricate body painting to blend with his background, then stands perfectly still until he is practically camouflaged.
The museum will host the first major exhibition of this artist, presenting a series of shots made in 2017 at various spots in Italy, along with other photos.
The museum is open daily: Mon-Thu 9:30am - 7:30pm; Fri-Sat 9:30am - 10pm; Sun 9:30am - 8:30pm. 14€ tickets
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!
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.
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