Things to do in Rome in August– how to celebrate your Ferragosto in Rome
Having plans for Ferragosto is as important to Italians as making New Year’s Eve plans – probably more. And for tourists, the question of ‘what to do for Ferragosto’ is just as important. If you’re visiting Rome during August, not only will you be here to luxuriate in some of the hottest weather, but you’ll be visiting at a time when many Italians leave for their summer holidays or simply take a few days to get out of the city.
August 15 is the official date for the nationwide holiday of Ferragosto but throughout the month of August many destinations, sites and restaurants are closed, so as a tourist, you too need to have excellent plans in place to enjoy your Ferragosto in the Eternal City.
And to avoid long queues for Rome’s sites or to make sure you don’t miss out on any activities, don’t forget to book your tickets in advance!
Celebrate the heat by keeping cool
Museums are interesting – and they usually have air conditioning. Most of the major museums of Rome will be open in August, with a couple of day closures. MAXXI offers temporary and permanent contemporary exhibitions in the iconic Zaha Hadid designed complex in the Guido Reni district. The Capitoline Museums offer an exploration of the ancient beginnings of the city (think incredible ancient sculptures with faces you’ll never forget) and a view over the Roman Forum that’s guaranteed to satisfy the photographer in you.
While the busyness of the Vatican Museums (where you’ll also the see the Sistine Chapel) can make for a very human experience, the extensive art than spans millennia and civilisations still has the power to make your imagination soar above the crowds.
Just remember that the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica are closed on Sundays, and will also be closed August 14 and 15. There are loads of tour options available to get the most out of the experience, just a heads up, definitely get skip-the-line tickets to avoid long hours under the heat!
For a smaller-scale, but highly impressive museum visit, the Galleria Borghese (closed on Mondays) is one of Rome’s top museum collections. Here it’s especially important to get your tickets early to wander the high-ceilinged baroque rooms of this wonderful villa with works by masters such as Caravaggio and Raphael.
The art of swimming
If you’re ready for a break from art or if you’re travelling with kids, or you just love to dive in, there are swimming pools open in Rome during August.
Belle Arti (Via Flaminia, 158) is an athletic pool with plenty of sun loungers and space to hang out. It sprices are pretty affordable too, with full day entry Mon-Fri at €12-€15 and €8 for children.
As well as having a charming name, Club Piscina delle Rose (Viale America 20, accessible by Metro Line B) has an Olympic-sized pool and a family-friendly atmosphere. Its half-day price is €14.
But that’s not all, there are luxury hotel pools, sports clubs and saunas. Check out an overview of the best swimming pools in Rome.
Revel in the fun of eating – restaurants open in Rome during August
As well as everything else you can enjoy in Rome (or instead of!) eating out is one of the city’s greatest pleasures. August is a month in which it isn’t as easy to choose a restaurant at random, due to the many closures as locals leave for their holidays, so it pays to have a few ideas up your t-shirt sleeve.
If you’re thinking Roman rooftop, Les Etoiles on the top floor of the Atlante Star Hotel has both taste and panorama overlooking the Vatican. In the historic centre, I Sofà Rooftop Bar Restaurant & Roof Terrace (Via Giulia, 62) offers contemporary dining – with touches of Rome’s glorious past.
Unique Al Palatino, at the foot of the Palatine Hill, has a tranquil internal garden with olive trees and serves up an elegant gastronomic experience. Il Marchese (loosely based on the movie Il Marchese del Grillo) on Via di Ripetta combines a restaurant in the Roman tavern tradition with an elegant salon-style cocktail bar, the Amaro Bar.
If breezy riverside dining sounds appealing, then Baja – The River Experience – is a restaurant, lounge bar and events space on the Tevere River, on the Prati side of the Ponte Nenni, towards Flaminio. It’s a place that will transform your view of Rome and, after a hot day sight-seeing, maybe even your mood. During August it’s open for dinner only.
If you’re near Piazza del Popolo or Piazza di Spagna – and you may well be, as part of visiting the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon – L’Uliveto Shop is a place to eat, buy and enjoy the flavours of the Italian region of Puglia. And if you’re on your way to your next stop, it’s the perfect place to get your takeaway picnic.
If you’re in the Campo de’ Fiori area, head to Barbieri 23 for a glass of bubbly Franciacorta accompanied by selezioni a stone’s throw away from Largo di Torre Argentina. Captained by the famed Chef Giorgio Baldari, this wine bar and laboratory’s mission is to only serve top-quality ingredients and drinks. Don’t leave without tasting The Boreale – a selection of different types and cuts of salmon – and Caesum, a selection of Italian cheese excellences.
Enjoy moving slowly
But don’t move too quickly! The hot weather of August is the perfect excuse to saunter along and make a real holiday of it. Most tourists will want to visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as these are Rome’s major and most compelling archaeological sites. And while you’re there, it’s easy to pause under a shady tree and take it all in – or savour that picnic you brought along.
Rome is a big, busy city and while the streets will be quieter in August, it’s also a great time to really relax in parks such as Villa Borghese or Villa Pamphilij, lose yourself in the Park of the Cafarella, or explore the Park of the Aqueducts (maybe go on a bike ride along the Ancient Appian Way).
And, if the holiday vibe of August has really got into your blood, then you too can head out of town to a beach near Rome or plan a day trip in the neighbouring countryside. While for the best events in Rome in August, click here.