Upon finding myself broke after several back-to-back trips around Europe, I decided to lay low for the weekend. But that’s not the only reason I decided to staycation in Rome.
This is the only (extremely limited) time period in which you can find all of Rome’s glorious sights and monuments as close to empty as it will ever get. Especially if you visit at night. Sure, there are some tourists, but most of them are clearing out right around this time. And the ones that stick around are easily deterred by the now scorching summer temps. Something that I have apparently grown accustomed to.
Ferragosto may technically be August 15th but this just means everyone starts taking their vacations the month prior. And to my disbelief, sometimes even as early as June! While all of the locals rush to get out of the city every weekend this is, in my opinion, the perfect time to stay right where I am. It is the rare time that I feel as if I have The Eternal City practically all to myself.
If found this out one summer evening last year. I was walking around Santa Maria Piazza in Trastevere with my friends after dinner and it was almost eerie how quiet and empty it was. At first, I was taken aback but I soon learned to take full advantage of this opportunity and visit all of those areas I had on my bucket list.
So, this past weekend, I decided to do my very own squares of Rome sunset tour. There was something magical about seeing these destinations by nightfall, but you had to know the right time to visit. Somewhere between dusk and darkness. I started with the vatican museum, seeing as it was daytime and the sun was still out. After closing time, I decided to have an aperitivo at one of the few airconditioned places I knew of- bars. I patiently waited for the sun to set as I sipped my cocktail.
Perhaps not the most logistical route but I began with Piazza Navona. I love the way the fountains light up as the sun sets over them, transitioning from daytime to night. I sat (yes, I was able to find an empty seat!) as I watched the people coming to and from their dinner destinations. I was even able to grab some gelato at nearby Della Palma. There was still a wait time, but nothing compared to what I had experienced in the past.
After that, I strolled on to Campo de’Fiori. It was always amazing to me how this square transformed so drastically. Food market by day, popular drinking destination by night. I grabbed another quick drink at my favorite pub, opting to take it outside for more people-watching. Then a quick drive-by of the Trevi Fountain before saving the best for last – the Pantheon. This was one of my favorite spots in Rome. I was always impressed that this massive, ancient structure was tucked away in the tiniest square amongst modern day life. The perfect juxtaposition that is Rome.
I continued down Via Cavour towards Piazza Venezia. Besides a few taxis leaving the station, the traffic was at a minimal. The Pantheon may be my favorite structure and square to visit, but my favorite place in the world to wander around was the Roman Forum. Somewhere almost untouchable during the day, not to mention so, so hot. There is not an ounce of shade to be found there. But by night…a totally different story. The ruins are beautifully illuminated visions against the black sky. And with the seagulls soaring overhead, there was something splendid about it.
There is a small window before all of those working and living in Rome return from their summer vacations and the next high-peak season in tourism starts back up again in September/October.
And for that brief little moment, Rome is all mine to explore.