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What to do in Rome this August

Rome may be emptied of Italians in August, but the city still has plenty to offer.

What's happening in Rome this August?
What's happening in Rome this August? Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP.

August has arrived in Italy, which means chiuso per ferie (closed for the holidays) signs are starting to pop up in the shuttered shopfronts of towns and cities across the country.

Each summer, there’s an annual exodus from urban centres as locals flee their simmering asphalt jungles for the cooler climes of the coast – and Rome’s no exception.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

But if you’ve unwittingly booked your holiday to coincide with the capital’s emptiest and sweatiest season, don’t despair: there’s still plenty going on.

Here are ten things to do in Rome this August.

Go sales shopping

Shopping sales, or saldi, are closely regulated in Italy, with only two big sales allowed per year.

This year’s summer sales season in Lazio, the region where Rome is based, runs until August 15th.

Until then you can browse the sales at your leisure, taking advantage of the lack of other shoppers to snap up items locals have missed.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about sales shopping in Italy

Chill on the Tiber with Lungo Il Tevere

Lungo Il Tevere, a series of summer events and food and drink stalls along the Trastevere section of the River Tiber, runs from mid-June until the end of August every year.

From 7pm each evening you can have an aperitivo or even a meal at one of the pop up restaurants overlooking the river, browse stalls selling clothing and trinkets, and play table football.

Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber.
Every summer in Rome the Lungo il Tevere festival hosts a series of events and stalls along the River Tiber. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.

READ ALSO: What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

From around 9pm until 2am, a nightly events programme kicks off that includes film screenings, discussions, presentations and musical performances.

Outdoor cinema screenings

Many of Rome’s outdoor cinema programmes close at the end of July, but there are a few that run into August. 

One is the Caleidoscopio programme, which is held in an open air ‘cinema’ at Villa Borghese from June 9th to September 19th, including throughout the month of August. Most non-Italian films will be shown in the original language with Italian subtitles.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Tickets are free, but are first come, first served: to secure a seat, attendees should go to the ticket office within two hours of the film’s start time of 9pm.

Lungo Il Tevere is also screening at least one film a night – some free, others €6 entry – until August 15th.

Make sure you check language restrictions before going – V.O. means the film is in its original language, sott.Eng/ sott.Ita means it has either English or Italian subtitles. Neither means the film is dubbed into Italian or in the original Italian without subtitles.

Day trip to the beach

If the summer heat is getting too much for you, there are several beaches within easy reach of the Italian capital.

Fregene, just 30km from the capital is a popular destination – though you can’t get all the way there by train, and will have to take a bus for the last stretch of the journey if using public transport.

Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance.
Santa Marinella beach with Santa Severa castle in the distance. Photo by Alessandro Canepa on Unsplash

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

The twin beaches of Santa Severa and Santa Marinella, while a little further out, are both without walking distance of stations that can be reached via a direct train from Rome.

Day trip to a lake

Not such a fan of the seaside? There are plenty of swimming lakes around Rome that can be visited by train for a small day-return fare.

The easiest to access from Rome are Lago di Albano and Lago Bracciano, both a little over one hour from city centre train stations.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Both have shores and lidi that can be accessed via a short journey on foot walking downhill from the nearest train stop. You have the option of paying for a sunbed at a private lido or simply laying down your towel on a free section of the shore.

Outdoor opera at Terme di Caracalla

If you’ve ever dreamt of attending an opera under the stars amongst ancient Roman ruins, now’s your chance.

Every summer sees the Terme di Caracalla thermal baths in Rome host a series of after-dark operatic and ballet performances. The season ends on August 9th, but until then you can catch Carmen, The Barber of Seville, and Notre-Dame de Paris.

Performances start at 9pm. Tickets can be bought here.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

Jazz concerts at Casa del Jazz and Castel Sant’Angelo

Summertime 2022 at the Casa del Jazz features a series of outdoor evening concerts in the Villa Osio park. The programme runs until August 7th.

If that’s not enough jazz for you, Castel Sant’Angelo near the Vatican is also putting on ‘Classic Mit Jazz‘ on August 11th – a fusion of jazz and classical music with an ensemble that features a sax and drums as well as a violin and cello. Tickets are €12 full price, €2 for 18-25 year-olds.

Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo hosts a series of summertime events.
Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo hosts a series of summertime events. Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash 

The event is part of the venue’s ‘Sotto l’Angelo di Castello’ festival of dance, theatre and music performances, which runs until September 25th. 

Go to a museum for free

History and culture buffs who find themselves in Rome on August 7th are in luck: on this date (the first Sunday of the month) the city’s civic museums are open to all for free.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

That means you can visit popular sites like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the National Museum, Palazzo Barberini, the ancient city of Ostia Antica, the Caracalla and Diocletian thermal baths, and Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este without paying a cent.

A full list of the museums and sites included in the scheme can be accessed here (this is a nationwide initiative involving hundreds of museums all across the country; search ‘Lazio’ to see which venues are included in and around Rome).

Attend a guided tour of the Colosseum under the stars

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night this August (and until the end of October) you can take a nighttime tour of the Colosseum featuring video projections and audio narration.

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Nine tips for making the most of a Rome city break

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The tour lasts one hour, with slots available between 8pm and midnight.

Tickets cost €25 full price and €20 for under-25s, and can be bought here.

Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.
Nighttime tours of the Colosseum can be booked Thursday-Saturday throughout August.

Witness a midsummer snowstorm

Every year on August 5th Rome commemorates the ‘miracle of the snow’ outside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Legend has it that on the night of August 4th in 358 BC, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream before a noble Roman couple and showed them where to build a church in her honour.

READ ALSO: How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

The next morning the couple related the dream to Pope Liberius, who had had the same vision. He went to the place and found it covered in snow in the middle of summer. Tracing an outline, he demarcated the foundations, and had the church built on that spot at the couple’s expense.

The annual event starts at 9pm, with performances and music set against the backdrop of moving images and light plays projected on the basilica’s facade, and culminates in a midnight ‘snowstorm’ on the piazza outside.

Member comments

  1. “Legend has it that on the night of August 4th in 358 BC, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream before a noble Roman couple and showed them where to build a church in her honour.”
    …I think you meant 358 AD. Not 358 BC (358 years before Christ).

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FOOD & DRINK

Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in September

If you're visiting Italy in autumn, don't miss the many local food and drinks fairs held around the country. Here are some to visit this September.

Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in September

One of the best things about visiting Italy in the autumn is having the opportunity to attend a sagra, a type of harvest festival or fair centred around one particular food or drink item local to the town hosting it.

sagra has a fairly broad definition: it could last for several weeks or one day, and might consist of anything from a raucous celebration with music and dancing to a lone food stall with a few wooden benches. It will usually be hosted in a field or a piazza, and entry is free.

READ ALSO: Seven reasons autumn is the best time to visit Italy

What all sagre have in common is the focus on eating and drinking fresh local produce, and the assurance that you won’t leave unsated.

While October is the month with the most sagre, by September there are already a good number taking place throughout the country that are worth seeking out if you’re in the area.

Here are just a few of the sagre happening across Italy this September.

Campania

Sagra della Rana (frog festival), 2nd-4th September in Marcianise.

Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar festival), Fridays-Sundays until the end of October in Dugenta.

The 10th annual Festa del Fagiolo (bean festival), 9th-11th September in Volturara Irpina.

Emilia Romagna

Sagra del pinzino e dell’arrosticino (fried bread dough and meat skewers festival), 31st August-11th September in Ferrara.

Sagra del Tartufo (truffle festival), 31st August-12th September in Sant’Agostino, Ferrara.

The 55th annual Sagra dell’Uva e del Lambrusco Grasparossa (grapes and lambrusco wine festival), 11th-24th September in Castelvetro di Modena.

Sagra Provinciale dell’Uva (grapes and wine festival), 17th-18th September in Riolo Terme.

Sagra della Salamina da Sugo al Cucchiaio (pork salami festival), 22nd-25th and 29th-30th September in Madonna Boschi, Ferrara.

Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Lazio

Sagra della porchetta di Ariccia (spitted pork festival), 2nd-4th September in Ariccia.

Festa del Fungo Porcino (porcini mushroom festival), 8th-25th September in Lariano.

Sagra del Ciammellocco (ciammellocco biscuit festival), 10th-11th September in Cretone.

Sagra degli Gnocchi (gnocchi festival), 16th-18th September in Castelnuovo di Porto.

Lombardy

Sagra della Rana (frog festival), 2nd-4th September in Sartirana Lomellina, Pavia.

Sagra dei Crotti (natural cave cellars festival), 3rd-4th and 10th-11th September in Chiavenna, Sondrio.

Sagra del Risotto (risotto festival), 12th-15th September in Cergnago, Pavia.

Fungolandia (mushroom festival), 3rd-11th September in Valle Brembana.

Sicily

Sagra del Nocattolo (nocattolo almond biscuit festival), 4th September in Nicosia.

Sagra dell’Arancino (fried arancino rice ball festival) 8th-11th September in Ficarazzi.

Festa della Noce (walnut festival), 30th September-9th October in Motta Camastra.

Cous Cous Fest, September 16th-25th, San Vito Lo Capo.

Piedmont

Gusto di Meliga (sorghum festival), 18th September, Chiusa di San Michele.

Sagra del Pomodoro (tomato festival), 2nd-4th September, Cambiano.

Fiera Nazionale del Peperone (bell pepper festival), 2nd-11th September, Carmagnola.

Puglia

Sagra del Maiale (pig festival), 2nd-4th September, Villa Baldassarri, Lecce.

Sagra della Zampina del Bocconcino e del Buon Vino (zampinabocconcino and good wine festival), 30th September-2nd October, Sammichele di Bari.

Tuscany

Sagra della bistecca (steak festival), 1st-4th September in Badia al Pino, Arezzo.

Festa della mora (blackberry festival), 3rd-4th September in Vaglia.

The 50th annual Expo del Chianti Classico (Classic Chianti Expo), 8th-11th September in Chianti.

Settimana del Miele (‘honey week’), 9th-11th September in Montalcino.

The 57th annual Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar festival), 7th-11th September in Capalbio.

Umbria

Primi d’Italia (national first courses festival), 29th September-2nd October in Foligno.

This list is not exhaustive. Did we miss out your favourite September sagra? Leave a comment below to let us know.

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