Visiting Rome in August has been more common in recent years. It’s a growing trend since the crisis has hit and finding a good rate for a hotel is much easier in the hottest part of the year than in any other month (January and February excluded).
The economic crisis also means that there will be more shops and restaurants open in August trying to recuperate the lower revenues of the previous months. The city will be quiet, with no traffic and only half of the Romans around, maybe even less in the central days of the month. I wouldn’t say it’s the ideal month to come to Rome, but it is an option not to rule out during these hard times. For sure it is better than July when Rome is still chaotic and already very hot or September when hotel and other service prices go up already. Moreover, I’ve noticed that there has been a lot of interest on August activities in Rome since last May at least as many readers googled ‘August’ and ‘Rome’ and found our stories from last year on art exhibitions and Ferragosto celebrations.
Moving on with the real stuff!
Since it’s really hot during the day, there are more night activities in August. You can visit the Colosseum from 8:30pm until midnight on Thursdays and Saturdays with guided tours in English and Italian. Castle S. Angelo is open every night (Monday excluded) from 8pm to 1am with guided tours in English and Italian, the extraordinary opening of areas usually closed to the public and free concerts.
The Carlo Bilotti Museum in Villa Borghese and its two contemporary art exhibits will be extraordinarily open on August 2 and 9 with live music and a drink with some finger food.
Most concert venues will be closed in August but there are some summer festivals during the first half of the month. Fiesta, the well-established Latin American Dance and Music event will feature a concert every night until August 15. The Roma Vintage happening will also be running until Ferragosto, while classical music lovers can head to the Sant’Ivo yard for outdoor chamber music concerts through August 11.
The Caracalla Baths host Rome’s Opera shows during the summer. Attila by Giuseppe Verdi on stage through August 7, Bellini’s Norma until August 8.
A free Italian folk dance performance will be on stage in the central Celimontana park on the night of August 10 while night shopping and chill out sessions can take place along the Tiber’s shores for the whole month for Lungo il Tevere. One more piece of advice: many shops still have good deals going on for the summer sales in the first part of the month.
Oudoor movie screenings is another feature of the Roman summer with open air theatres scattered all over the city. They’re all in Italian, though. The only English language film we’re aware of is at Casa del Cinema on the 5th and on screen is “The Odd Couple”.
We also have a beautiful outdoor theatre in Villa Borghese, Italy’s only English Renaissance style theatre, the Globe, featuring Shakespeare’s plays (only in Italian but hey, if you’re up for it, it could be quite a unique learning experience to hear Shakespeare in the Italian language).
If you dare flexing your muscles out in August, Mondo Fitness should definitely be your destination with its huge facilities and list of activities.
Last but not least, our pick of the best exhibitions to see in August. Rome’s top contemporary art museum MAXXI hosts a very interesting architecture exposition of models by Italian architects, while the smaller counterpart MACRO features a peculiar neon art showing. The National Gallery of Modern Art has 2 exhibits going on in August: one on Andy Warhol and his work on newspapers and headlines and the other about major Italian 20th century artists. The Roman Forum showcases some ancient glasses, while the City Gallery of Modern Artis hosting paintings owned by a bank that are really worth the visit. The Bramante cloister has extended the Miro’ exhibit to August 23, while the French Academy of Villa Medici proposes for the summer a very original exhibit on carpets and arts. In Castle S. Angelo you can see interesting stuff about key Popes whereas in Villa d’Este – Tivoli – you’ll learn something on Italian Renaissance banquets. Another appealing exhibit out of Rome is the one on the movies shot at Bracciano’s magnificent Castle (where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married). If you are movie lovers you shouldn’t miss Cinecitta’s (Rome’s Hollywood) exhibition which has been trasfromed into a permanent showing. The most marketed exposition of 2012 so far is Lux in Arcana with documents from the secret Vatican Archives. Last on the list is the Russian Avantgarde showing at Ara Pacis.
One more tip: you can also spend a day on the beach. Avoid Saturdays and Sundays, but give it a try, it’s a nice break from your cultural visits.
Despite the heat of August, we wish you joyful strolls in Rome and tons of gelato stops along your way. And watch out for our out-of-the-guidebook discoveries of awesome gelato in Rome, our very own, personal favorites, to be published very soon!