Rome seasons, Rome, Italy (Photo )

When is the best time to travel to Rome, Italy? (Hint: It's not August)

The best times to visit Rome are in spring (late March through May) and fall (September through mid-November)—though know that it does tend to rain bit more in October.

This is partly to do with the weather (it can get brutally hot in summer and chilly in winter), but it has much more to do with crowds.

Summer in Rome (including the dreaded Ferr-Augusto, the mid-August holiday)

Summers can be pretty hot in Rome, especially as fewer people there seem to believe in air-conditioning.

Rome is also packed with fellow travelers during the summer tourist high season, June through August.

What's more, the city practically shuts down in August—and on August 15, known as Ferr'Agosto, it seems as if 90 percent of Rome's citizenry heads for the beach en masse. The last two weeks of August in Rome tend to be brutally hot, with hordes of confused, sweating tourists wandering from monument to monument wondering where the heck all the Italians went.

That said, the city has taken some initiatives in recent years to help keep people in Rome during August and to entertain those who do remain with a series of outdoor summer festivals and free films (often screened at impromptu outdoor theaters set up on Tiber Island or amidst the ancient ruins along the Roman Forum).

Check out Rome's municipal city Web site (Comune.roma.it) and the official Rome tourism site (Romaturismo.it) for details on what's on tap for this summer.

Winter in Rome

It can get surprisingly cold in Rome in the winter (December through February). Bring warm clothes.

However, if you go in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you get to see the Christmas fair on Piazza Navona and nativity scenes set up in public spaces—the Spanish Steps, Piazza San Pietro—and in churches across the city.

 

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Make a plan, but do not stick to it slavishly