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Friday, August 12, 2005

Joe Begs to Differ...About August in Rome

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you will be familiar with my friend Joe who feels passionately about Rome. He responds to my most recent post below:

The reason why it's a terrible idea to visit Rome in August is that there are no Romans in Rome. Who wants to go to Rome--or Paris or Munich--and only meet tourists? A city isn't buildings and monuments. It's people. Rome's LIVING cultural life--the arts and music--comes to a standstill. The dining scene withers in August because so many of the places close for all or part of August and that truly curtails your ability to do one of the best things in Rome: Find a remarkable place by accident.

Yes, the streets are quieter and you might actually try to drive (although why I don't know) and the hotels are actually affordable in August. But that's because Rome is a shell of itself in August. Going to Rome in August is like going to Vegas and claiming you've been to Rome because you stayed at Caesars Palace.

Might I suggest that if visitors want to experience Rome at a good time, they try November 1-December 15 or mid-January to late February. The Romans are there, the city's living culture is there. The restaurants are all open. The hotel rates are almost as good. The weather is wonderful (November/early Dec) or good (Jan/Feb). And Rome in these periods is almost as quiet as in August--except that it's the tourists, not the Romans, who are gone.

And if I have to chose to visit Rome when the tourists are gone or visit Rome when the Romans are gone, what do you think I'm gonna pick?


Point well taken Joe and that's why I am sharing it here. I guess I might say that if the only choice you have is to visit Rome in August, you can still get a flavor for the city, but not the best, as Joe says. Another great time to visit Rome -- February -- as I did this year. Rates are low and the city does belong to the Romans.

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