Why we would never go back to Rome… in the summer!

Let us get one thing straight, we loved Rome. It was one of the most beautiful cities we have visited so far. Unfortunately the time of year that we visited made the trip almost unbearable at times – the endless supply of gelato made it a little easier. Below we explain why we would never go back to Rome in the summer.


1) The Heat is Unbearable

Climbing the 871 steps to the top of St Peter’s Dome in 40ºC+ heat was one of the most physically demanding things we have ever done. We expected it to be warm when we booked up to go to Rome as it was August but we stupidly didn’t expect there to be a sever lack of air con – but why would there be? Most of the attractions are centuries old. As we was queueing up to enter St Peter’s Basilica we decided that we would spend as long inside as possible to escape the heat. Big mistake. The walk to the top of St Peter’s Dome is via a one way, 1 meter wide and extremely steep staircase. There are no side exits, no staff, no way down and of course no air con. We are no hikers but are not what we would class as unfit and really struggled to get to the top. Once at the top our main goal was to get back down and get some water. This was a massive shame as you can see the view was spectacular.
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The view from the top of St Peter’s Dome . We paid 5 Euros each for admission.
 A few other places to avoid in the summer months are the Roman Forum (as there is absolutely no shade and none of Rome’s famous drinking fountains), The Metro system (the air con system just blows out hot air) and Colosseum (the long queues combined with no shade are awful).

2) Longer Queues

Although we were expecting long queues, we didn’t imagine how bad they would be. The photo at the top of the page shows the mid point of the queue to enter St Peter’s Basilica. What you can’t see is that the queue doubles up on itself at the end. It is a similar story at the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums. We waited in line for a combined 6 hours for all three of these. Inside the Vatican Museums we joined another queue for 3 hours and this was just to get all the way around it. We were herded like cattle, shoulder to shoulder until we got to the Sistine Chapel. This was massively underwhelming and this was only due to the fact nobody would shut up or stop taking photos despite being told by guards every 30 seconds not to. We came away not thinking much of the chapel itself and both agree that we were more impressed with paintings in other museums. Was this because of the crowds? Probably.

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The artistic ceiling of one Rome’s many churches.

You kind of expect to wait around a lot when you go on a city break but combined with the heat and lack of shade this put a bit of a downer on our trip. On the plus side people did offer queue jumps however this was often up to 3x the normal admission price – no thanks!

A quick tip – to save money at the colosseum, buy your ticket at the door. Not from somebody offering queue jump or a street seller. Entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is also included on these tickets.


3) We Was on Constant Watch for Pick Pockets

Ok, we get that this isn’t just something that happens in the summer or even just in Rome. We are from a large city so understand that crime happens everywhere however we felt on constant edge – especially when the first thing we heard when getting into Rome was ‘beware of pick pockets’ – and this was from the talking train ticket machine! We had no problems with crime ourselves but we did witness first hand one of the cons of visiting a large city. When walking towards the Roman Forum a young American couple were pick pocketed by a group of 3 girls between the ages of around 14-17. Luckily the man was quick enough to grab them and get the attention of the police. He was big enough to hold two of the girls by their arms but we never found out if the woman got her purse back. How could we not feel on edge after seeing this?

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The entrance to the Roman Forum – beware of pick pockets!

4) You Have to Cover Up

Rome is a holy city and when visiting most religious places you must show respect. The summer sun makes this very difficult to follow. Most churches in Rome, including St Peter’s Basilica, require you to cover everything from your shoulders down to your knees. This would be fine at other times of the year but when you are carrying a rucksack and it is nearing 40°C outside is a difficult one to accept. A few places do offer shawls but its a right pain having to plan what you are going to do around what you are wearing. Nat had to take a change of clothes when visiting the Vatican as were told by other tourists that the rules there were followed religiously – no pun intended.

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Too hot to wear this much!

5) Even The Tour Guides Recommend Against It!

We heard several tour guides telling their tour parties that they shouldn’t have bothered coming during August. Not only would we be pissed off if we was part of one of these groups but surely this says it all? Several local waiters also told us the same thing. If the people that live there are telling you to stay away then this is sound advice!

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Even when the sun goes down, it is too hot. It makes for impressive pictures though!

8 thoughts on “Why we would never go back to Rome… in the summer!

  1. Went in June, was very hot then also.Totally agree. The queues at the Vatican and the Coliseum were a pain. Got hustled into going into a organised tour at the Vatican much to my annoyance. An amazing city spoiled by tourists and selfie stick sellers.

    We travelled to Sorrento for 10 days after it and that was amazing, the Amalfi coast is breathtaking

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  2. First time, I went in October like Vonnie. It was almost November but there were still sooo many people. January is perfect. It’s not hot and you’re going to need a jacket but it’s warmer than in most other places so it’s a nice break from the crowds. And there are almost no queues compared to summer.

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  3. I totally agree! The heat was unbearable. I have an upcoming blog that is part of a series of my time in Italy last summer. Don’t forget the lack of “free water” or water fountains. There is the exception with the natural springs along the ruins near the forum. There was also tons of mosquitos which didn’t seem as awful as they were in the country. It was nearly impossible to find a toilet at times. The food was not great. And yes, you did have to be on guard about the pickpocketers. I was felt up by an old lady on a public bus in Venice (we stayed on the Lido island). Luckily, I had my moneybelt on the inside of my clothes which is a must! I wish I had the choice to go any other time, but as a teacher my vacation time is limited. You guys were troopers to wait in the long lines. We didn’t have it in us in 102 degree heat. The idea is that you went, you saw and you experienced it in person. For us,some of our trip was annoying and not fun, some of it was great. For the crummy part of our trip we took home funny stories and mostly a deep appreciation of our comforts of home. I never appreciated living in the States as much as I did upon returning from Italy. I look forward to reading more of your travels. Good luck!

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  4. I haven’t been there in February, not in summer, but I woul just walk away from huge crowds and long queues. Instead I would do something enjoyable. Maybe I’m missing something finally, but that’s better than to waist my time for standing in queues.
    Best regards,
    Mark

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