Rome boasts a wide array of attractions, festivals and events all year round. Alongside its wealth of stunning monuments, this makes it the ideal tourist destination. Moreover, the Romans are perennial seekers of fun and festivals both in ancient times and today meaning the city frequently offers celebrations and events to accompany the many public holidays cherished by Italians and tourists alike. If you can brave the heat, the summer is indeed an ideal time to go, as it’s when the locals traditionally go to the sea. This does not however mean that the city sleeps, instead it comes alive to welcome the flocks of tourists from all over the world who come to delight in its wealth of summer festivals and attractions. Here, we have discovered and put together a list of the top things to do this summer in Rome to make your trip truly unforgettable.
Firstly, let’s start with the summer festivals. From the Feast of Saint John which traditionally includes eating snails (June 23-24) to the arts and crafts fair Expo Tevere, a summer in Rome offers events for all tastes and passions! From mid-June to early August the festival ‘Roma incontra il mondo’ takes place in the Villa Ada park. This involves musicians from all over the world performing on a lakeside stage, accompanied by a magnificent light display and, if you are lucky, pleasing cool breezes. For lovers of the arts, the Festa de Noantri at mid-end of July is a top pick. A spectacular fireworks display closes this 2-week long festival dedicated to the arts and street performances in the Trastevere district. Arts and culture fanatics will also enjoy the Jazz & Image festival, which runs from early June-August, and the Festival delle Letterature, which features some of the most important contemporary writers from around the world. For party lovers, the top choices are Estate Roma, which runs throughout the summer season, and the Latin-American themed festival: Fiesta. The former is event-packed and offers something for everyone from literature readings to gastronomic events and performances from local bands. The latter is music and dance based and definitely worth taking part in, indeed millions of tourists flock to Rome every year just for this festival. Unfortunately, this means traffic can be a nightmare from mid-June to mid-August when the event runs, but its definitely worth the hassle.
For those of you who want to get a good idea of what it’s like in Rome after dark, the festival Gay Village serves as the ideal introduction. This 10-week long party is perfect for boys and girls alike, taking place in various venues throughout the city, most notably the discos, bars and cinemas. Another particular event of the Roman summer is the New Opera Festival di Roma, which offers new talented opera singers from Italy and the states to perform in the courtyard of the basilica of San Clemente. This is an ideal, inspiring experience for those who want to get a taste of Italian opera in contemporary style. The wealth of festivals featured in a Roman summer is astounding and thus not all of them can be covered here, however other favourites include: the Festa di San Giovanni for the religiously fervent, Cineporto for cinema lovers and the charming little chamber music festival Mille e Una Nota for those who wish to get a taste of a calmer, but equally magnificent musical scene in Rome.
Alongside all these festivals, Rome has many other things to offer during the summer season. A visit to the beautiful park Villa Celimontana is a must, particularly since it hosts jazz performances throughout the summer months. Furthermore, one of Italy’s most breathtaking gardens, the Ninfa, opens exclusively during the summer season (from April – October) on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. Don’t worry though, even the Romans need to rest once in a while. Consequently, although there are dance and music festivals featured, being in Rome for Ferragosto, that is the 15th August, and the week surrounding it means several days of tranquility and calm as the city closes down, at least for a few days.
Art exhibitions open in Rome in the summer of 2013 include Empire State, Art in New York Today in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni gallery until July 21st and is also featuring the exhibition the Big Apple; Helmut Newton – White Women/Sleepless Nights/Big News at the same time.
Finally, if you wish to learn more about Rome and its sites, a guided tour is a definite must. In order to avoid tourist trap tours, which are often overpriced and of mediocre quality, it is best to ‘shop around’ and not just jump at the first offer. This allows you to select the most favourable price. The best seem to be the skip the line tours; the organisations which run them are based in Saint Peter’s Square and are focused around the Vatican. We also advise against pre-booking as this ties you down to a particular time and you don’t need to worry as there are always places available given the large numbers of tours arranged daily.
No trip to Rome would be complete without the typical visits to the Colosseum and the Pantheon, making a wish in the Trevi fountain and perhaps even waving to the Pope at the Vatican. However, the summer really is the season when the city comes alive with the Italian climate serving as a perfect backdrop for arts events and numerous festivals (or in other words week long parties)! Finally, remember that the best gelaterias open during the summer season and no trip to Rome would be complete without sampling what’s considered the city’s best ice cream at Il Gelato di San Crispino. Of course, this can be eaten in winter too, but sampling an ice cream under the scorching southern sun is definitely an experience not to be missed!