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
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.
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?
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.
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!