Many of us who live in Rome love it in summer because it empties out when many Italians take their holidays (especially in July but mostly in August), and it's a treat to stroll around on balmy summer nights in less-crowded sites and piazzas.
What's the weather like in Rome in summer?
For the most part, weather in Rome in summer is hot and humid.
The beginning and end of summer are more moderate but in July and August it can get really hot and muggy in Rome, even at night.
The best rule of thumb for sight-seeing in the summer in Rome is to stay out of the heat in the middle of the day.
We don't get too much rain in summer but you may want to bring a light waterproof shell.
What to pack and what to wear in Rome during summer?
No matter when you visit Rome, there are five things you should always bring:
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You'll be glad to have a hat while walking around under Rome's summer sun.
I suggest sturdy walking sandals and try to avoid flimsy beach-style flip flops.
Make sure they are be comfortable for all the walking you will do.
Romans wear scarves year-round.
In summer, you will be glad you have a scarf on chilly airplanes but also to cover your bare shoulders so you can enter churches.
A pickpocket-proof backpack is the ideal way to sight-see.
It leaves your hands free for picture-taking, holding onto rails, and riding a bike or scooter if you decide to rent one.
I know this is not a thing to pack per se, but it's such an important part of travel these days.
If you think you are already covered by your credit card's insurance, you should double check the fine print. It's not likely to cover what you really need when travelling.
Besides the above, when you visit Rome in summer, here are a few easy rules of thumb:
Bring clothes for visiting the Vatican and other churches. You need to have shoulders, midriffs, and knees covered. Long shorts, skirts, or Capri pants will work. And you can use a scarf to cover your shoulders.
Bring breathable comfortable clothes. Cotton pants, skirts, dresses, shorts, tees, cardigans, and a light jacket are all a good idea.
Bring two pairs of super comfortable shoes. Even if both pairs are sandals, it's a good idea to be able to change to a different pair in between outings. Your feet will thank you.
Allow some space in your luggage for shopping acquisitions!
Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.
What are some summer events/holidays to look out for in Rome?
One of the nice things about summer in Rome is that it's not full of national or religious holidays, which means sites and shops are pretty much open normally most of the summer.
There are a few holidays and events to keep in mind when planning your visit:
In summer in Rome, you can enjoy this boardwalk set up along the banks of the Tiber river. There are places to eat and drink, listen to music, play games, shop, and more!
June 29 - Santi Pietro e Paolo, Saints Peter and Paul, patron saints of Rome. This holiday is specific to Rome so you won't find it celebrated in other parts of Italy. Sites will be open but many shops and businesses close for the day. The Pope holds a special mass at in Vatican Square so you may want to book this in advance. Click here to visit my page about Events in Rome in June.
June - September - Roma estate Lungotevere. The banks of the Tiber turn into a boardwalk with fun for everyone. You'll find lots of places to eat and drink, play games, shop, listen to music or just stroll and enjoy the ambiance. Usually held nightly from the first week of June through the first week of September.
July/August - Summer sales. In Italy, we have sales twice a year, once in winter and once in summer. Usually summer sales begin the first week of July and last for about a month and a half. Visit my Rome Shopping Guide here.
August 15 - Ferragosto. Ferragosto is probably THE most important holiday of the year for many Italians. It is a religious holiday (the assumption of the Virgin Mary), and it has become the date around which summer holidays and travels are planned. Italy is somewhat famous for its typical "August closure", in which many cities used to just shut down for the entire month of August. This is no longer the case but Ferragosto is still very much a thing.
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What are the best things to do in Rome in summer?
Sight-seeing in Rome in summer is best inside where there is air-conditioning, but that's not always possible.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and many other sites are all outside.
So to visit those sites in summer, you should plan for early morning or late afternoon to avoid the head and overhead sun.
In summer, these are some of the best things to do in Rome:
Roma estate Lungotevere - a summer boardwalk set up along the banks of the Tiber river. Open nightly from 7pm - 1am, June - early September.
Outdoor concerts - There are a lot of outdoor concerts in summer. These include opera, jazz, rock, symphony, and more.
Terme di Caracalla - One of the best-loved events in summer in Rome are the operas held at the Baths of Caracalla in July.
Night visits - Many sites offer night visits in the summer, including the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum. This often means you won't see the site the same way as during the day, but it will be cooler and less crowded.
Viaggio nei Fori - One of my favorite warm-weather outdoor things to do is enjoy the laser-light shows on the via dei Fori Imperiali. There is one about Emperor Augustus and another about Julius Caesar. Buy tickets here.
Summer in Rome is a great time to enjoy all your favorite summer fruits like peaches, apricots, melons, and berries.
This is also when tomatoes are at their juiciest and tastiest, so a caprese (tomato and mozzarella) with fresh basil (also in season) is perfect this time of year.
Buffalo mozzarella and fresh juicy tomatoes with crisp basil is a perfect summer dish to have in Rome.
Summer is a great time for sampling these in-season foods:
Eggplants (grilled or in eggplant parmesan)
Peppers (a classic Roman dish, in particular on Ferragosto, is chicken with red peppers.)
Tomato stuffed with rice - a classic "poor" food, I love this starchy savory dish!
Prosciutto and melon
Spaghetti and clams (vongole)
I urge visitors to Rome not to look for artichokes which are not at all in season in summer, but due to rising demand, many restaurants will offer them in summer, even if you won't find them in the markets.