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How to keep cool in the summer weather in Rome, Italy

Here are the first five of our ten tips on how to keep cool in the summer as the Italian climate seems to get hotter each year, and what to do in Rome to avoid sun stroke.

The weather in Rome, Italy, in the summer months can be stifling.  Temperatures can reach 40°C (104°F) or more, and the lack of a breeze makes the air intensely humid.

Even on a cloudy day it's easy to get heat or sun stroke which can ruin your holiday and in extreme circumstances can be highly dangerous.

So it's important to have some idea before you travel about how to keep cool in the Italian climate.  On this and our other page about how to keep cool and safe are our top ten tips for things to do in Rome when the temperature rises.

weather rome italy
All you need to enjoy Rome in the summer :
cool water fountains and blue, blue sky.

Fountain in St Peter's Square, Rome, July 2009.

We've assumed you will already be aware of the 'normal' courses of action to avoid sunburn and sun stroke : always use a sunscreen, keep the back of your neck covered, and wear a hat, particularly if your head is, as they say, "follically challenged."

How to Keep Cool Tip 1  : Plan ahead

Romes climate summer
Rome in summer :
a riot of colour but
intense heat.

Start before you even set foot in Italy.  The Italian climate during June, July, August and into September is intensely hot, so if you're travelling then you need to think about how to keep cool.

Make sure you book an hotel with air conditioning. Most luxury 5 star hotels and the top family hotels such as the Hotel Russie have air conditioning throughout, but cheaper hotels in Rome may not.

Think also of those travelling with you. Elderly people, infants or anyone with a chronic health problem may dehydrate easily and will be more susceptible to heat. You either need to pay for a hotel with air conditioning, or travel outside Rome's summer months. 

Click on this link for suggestions about Rome's climate in the spring when it's pleasantly warm rather than overwhelmingly hot.

And remember that if you're taking pets to Italy they need to be protected from the sun too. Have a look at our twenty tips to prevent your animals getting sun stroke.

How to Keep Cool Tip 2 : Water, water and more water!

Ever notice your family getting irritable and tired when it's hot? That's probably because they're dehydrated. And fractious children with irritated parents can ruin a longed-for holiday.

Rome fountain
When in Rome - water from Rome's fountains is perfectly safe to drink.

So - what to do in Rome to avoid yourself getting into that state? - Simple. Drink plenty of water.

All around Rome you'll find street vendors selling bottles of various types of drink. Avoid the fizzy, sugary type - they won't help dehydration. 

Instead, look for a stall selling frozen bottles of water and buy one for each member of the family, even (especially) children. The water will defrost slowly as you walk round, giving you a lovely cool drink for longer.

Avoid buying them round well-known sites like the Colosseum though - you'll pay three or four times the price!

When that water's gone, use one of Rome's many drinking fountains to fill up. The water is from the mountains : cold, fresh, delicious - and absolutely safe to drink.

How to Keep Cool Tip 3 : Take advantage of Rome's fountains

Rome fountain with kids
Kids cool off in one of
Rome's fountains.

Water fountains are a very important part of life in Italy, and around Rome you'll find literally hundreds of fountains of all shapes and sizes.

It's not wise to try to climb into the fountains. Although it's very tempting in the heat of the Italian climate in the summer, you're likely to be arrested - particularly at the Trevi fountain where there are special guards whose job it is to stop anyone who looks as though they may dip even a toe in!

But it's fine to dip your hands and a good tip for cooling down is to leave your wrists in cold water for several minutes. Cooling blood going through the wrists lowers the whole body's temperature very quickly. Cath learned this little 'how to keep cool' trick many years ago when living in the heat of inland Spain - and it works!

How to Keep Cool Tip 4 : Forget the coffee!

Italian coffee
Italian coffee is gorgeous,
but no good in the sun.

We absolutely love Italian coffee. When we're thinking about what to do in Rome our day will invariably start in one of the city's many coffee shops.

But Italian coffee and the Italian climate in summer don't go well together.  Both caffeine and alcohol promote dehydration and, together with the heat of Rome's climate, can cause serious heat related illnesses.

By all means enjoy a coffee at breakfast before the sun becomes really hot, and with your evening meal after it has gone down,  but avoid it between those times.

Try having 'gelato' (ice cream) breaks instead - cooling and yummy at any time of day!

How to Keep Cool Tip 5 : Dress to keep cool

How to keep cool
Even shopping in Rome can be cool if you dress in
loose clothing.

Italy is an intensely fashion-conscious country and for Italian people it's important to present a "bella figura" - good impression - even in the intense heat of the Italian climate.  

So it's important to know how to keep cool, comfortable and fashionable in Rome but at the same time take account of the heat.

Just look at how Italian people dress in the summer - even at beach resorts. For men it's easy; light-coloured shirts and trousers made of cotton or linen will be acceptable and stop you from overheating.

For women, try wearing longer, flowing dresses made of natural fabrics - cotton or linen are best. The looser fit will allow sweat to evaporate and your skin to keep cool as air passes freely over your body. 

Long dresses also look good with flat-soled shoes which are a must when walking round the city - 'gladiator sandals' are very popular in Rome and look great with this style.

And avoid dark colours. Italians naturally like bright colours, and white always looks stunning on a hot day.

Not just how to keep cool in Rome,
but how to be cool in Rome!

Now have a look at our five remaining tips about
keeping cool in Rome in the summer.

The weather in Rome, Italy

Things to do in Rome

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