Italy

Five cool things to do in Rome during the sweltering summer

Rome’s more than 2,500 years of history makes it a tourist favourite. During the summer, the crowds and the high temperatures can make it tiring. Here are cool ways to experience the Eternal City

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 6:46pm

A visit to Rome requires time, money and dedication. The Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, St Peter's Cathedral and the Vatican – the must-see list goes on, and seeing all of it can be exhausting in the summer heat.

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So, book a hotel for a week, pack some comfortable walking shoes, get to the big attractions as early in the day as possible, and make the most of this summer’s events to enjoy what remains one of Europe’s best city breaks.

View the moon from the Colosseum

Until recently, Rome's iconic 2,000-year old amphitheatre was really looking its age. However, a three-year clean-up by architects and archaeologists has seen its walls returned to their original colour. Along with a new look comes a new way of visiting; until October 31 it is possible to visit the Colosseum at night on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This La luna sul Colosseo – the moon on the Colosseum – is proving a popular way to beat the crowds and the heat, so book ahead. Tickets cost €20 (US$23.50).

Go on a food tour

TripAdvisor reports a 61 per cent global year-on-year increase in spending on dedicated food tours, with Rome the location of three of the world’s top 10. Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District (HK$800/US$100) promises a 'like a local' food-and-walking tour around a traditional Roman neighbourhood sampling up to 20 Roman specialities.

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Expect generous helpings of buffalo mozzarella, traditional pizza and gelato. The Rome Street Food Tour (HK$370/US$47) encompasses the city’s best pizza, suppli (fried risotto balls) and rich, creamy gelato, while the Small-Group Rome Food Walking Tour (HK$720/US$90) takes you to the Campo de’ Fiori food market, trendy Trastevere and to the delicatessens of the Jewish quarter for fried artichoke and risotto balls.

Cross a border at the Vatican City

If you’re visiting the papal enclave, an independent state since 1929, budget an entire day for your trip, and plan ahead. Reserve your ticket at biglietteriamusei.vatican.va. Tickets with a timed entry time cost €21 (US$25), but it's worth paying the extra four euros to save yourself three hours in a queue.

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The Sistine Chapel (which has the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo) and the Vatican Museums are closed on 15 August (as many places in Rome are) for the Catholic holiday of Ferragosto.

If you are in Rome on a Friday, you can visit the Vatican Museums between 7pm and 11pm until October 26.

Rock out in Rome

Running from 26 May until 1 August is Rome Summer Fest, a summer season of 40 concerts in the futuristic Auditorium Parco della Musica. Confirmed rock and pop acts include Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, Snarky Puppy, Hollywood Vampires, Alanis Morissette, Franz Ferdinand and Steven Tyler. Meanwhile, southeast of the city at the Ippodromo delle Capannelle racecourse – is Rock in Roma 2018. It’s a programme of evening concerts rather than a traditional all-day line-up, acts booked include The Killers, Megadeth, Roger Waters and the Chemical Brothers.

Take the train to Tivoli

The 'water gardens' around the 16th-century Renaissance retreat of Villa d'Este cost €11 (US$13) are a great place to escape Rome' s hectic summer streets for a few hours. Just 30 minutes northeast of Rome by train, this is Renaissance culture writ large, with exquisite fountains, tall trees and statues in sumptuous gardens.

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Getting there

Cathay Pacific flies direct from Hong Kong to Rome. Flights take 11 to 13 hours.