Mid-August in Italy

People often ask me when Rome’s slow season is, and usually in the same breath say Rome must be horribly crowded in the summer. Here’s a secret. It’s August and the city is empty. Sure, there are tourists around the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica, but the quiet back streets are, well, quiet. 

This doesn’t actually make it an ideal time to visit. It’s great to stroll through streets with few people and notice details you might otherwise overlook, surrounded by Romans and their chaos. (One especially notes the absence of cars, since most people in the city in August are tourists who don’t drive). But one tires of the closed shops with their cheerful “on holiday, back in September” signs. And it’s hot.

Most of all, though, I love the feeling that anything you do in August is extra, unexpected. If in a day you see one church — or write one blog post — that is one thing more than 99 percent of Italians who are simply basking on a beach somewhere. 

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Tom Rankin