I've got Rome on the brain right now. Or maybe it's always there, a little piece of me that is always tied to the Eternal City. It definitely gets under your skin. With all of the corners of Italy that I have visited and explored, still today my reply to the question of my favorite city in Italy is always Rome. It's incomparable. Sure, it's annoying and loud. Too much traffic, too much graffiti, too many tourists. But Rome is a city of layers so you have to dig deep, go beyond the surface. That may mean ducking into a side street where your experience is completely different or perhaps exploring something other than ancient Rome and the Vatican (like the Borghese Gallery or the Protestant Cemetery). This summer (like most summers I suppose) it seems like everyone is going to Rome and I must say, I am a little jealous. If you are going to Rome, here is some advice, a few resources and recommendations that are sure to enhance your experience.
I. Drink the Water - unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, the city has some of the best drinking water in Europe. Bring a water bottle and fill up at one of the many public water spigots.
II. Head for the Hills - While the center of town can be stifling, remember that Rome was built on seven hills. Some of them seem to be no more than a hump at this point but some, like the Aventine and the Janiculum, are perched high above the city, offering both a little respite from the heat as well as spectacular views of the city.
III. Go Play Outside - Opera at the Baths of Caracalla, a jazz nightclub on the Celian Hill, outdoor movies on the Tiber Island. When the weather heats up, Romans stay outside as much as possible in the evenings. A great way to beat the heat. Check out Wanted in Rome - an English Language guide to Rome
IV. Rethink Dining - Early morning breakfast, a light lunch (think caprese salad - skip the wine) and a refreshing grattachecca (fruit ice - stands pop up all over Rome in the summer) keep you from feeling sluggish throughout the day. Save your bigger meal for the evening - 9 or 10pm - when the city cools down and there is often a light breeze. Looking for some great places to try? I love Pizzeria Emma, Tavernaccia da Bruno and da Giggetto these days.
V. Way Cool - you know what's cool (literally)? Churches with big thick stone walls. Duck into one of the 931 churches in Rome for a respite from the heat. Also, they are impressive and beautiful. Some favorites? Santo Stefano Rotondo, Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, Santa Sabina (on the Aventine Hill), Santa Maria in Cosmedin
If you are going to Rome this summer and you have any questions, feel free to post them here in the comments - I would be happy to help. And let me know about your experience when you return. I love hearing about the city from someone else's perspective. Rome is different for each person and that is what makes it so special.