Autumn is starting and while it’s one of my favourite seasons, in Italy it can be pretty wet. If you are worried about what to do in Rome when it rains, fret not. First of all, there are many places to visit in Rome with bad weather, and second, even in Fall you will find lovely days.
Autumn in Rome is actually very nice. The colours of the falling leaves give a romantic touch to the stunning cityscape and temperatures are perfect, not too hot anymore, nor too cold.
So what to do in Rome when it rains?
When you do find a rainy day in Rome, here are some of the best things you can do and places you can visit. Especially if you are visiting Rome in autumn or winter, it’s possible to find a cloudy and even rainy day. This is why it’s always better to arrive prepared and know what to do in Rome when it rains.
1. Visit Musei Capitolini
It’s central, right on the Capitoline Hill and it’s a must-see in Rome. Musei Capitolini is the perfect introduction to Roman history from Etruscan times to the foundation of the city. A large exhibition displays a series of precious artifacts and archaeological relics and shows centuries of art and history of Rome.
2. Discover the industrial archaeology at Centrale Montemartini
Centrale Montemartini is a fascinating museum located in the Ostiense neighbourhood. Located in Rome’s first public power plant for the production of electricity, this is a one-of-a-kind museum. This old power station hosts archaeological relics from Musei Capitolini and visitors enjoy ancient and modern history in the same exhibition.
3. Visit the Pantheon
Built as the temple to all gods, according to the myth, when it rains water can’t pass through the hole in the ceiling. What’s a better moment to check out if this is a myth or reality than on a rainy day?
4. Enjoy a longer coffee break in Rome
One of the pleasures of being in Rome is also to tuck into its pastries and a great selection of coffees, chocolates and similar products. While on a sunny day we don’t want to feel guilty for what might seem wasting time when it rains and maybe a little cold, this is truly a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Rome.
There is nothing better than curling up with hot tea, coffee or chocolate in one of Rome’s many cafes and bistros. One of my favourites is the Romeow Cat Bistrot, but there are many other cafes worth trying and spending an afternoon such as Sciascia Caffè 1919 (Via Fabio Massimo 80/a), Giada Food Lab & Drinks (Corso Trieste 97/a), Vivi Bistrot (Piazza Navona 2) and Makasar Bistrot (Via Plauto 33/33a).
5. Indulge in your hotel’s spa
If you have booked a four or five-star hotel in Rome, there is a good chance that they have a spa, but even if you are in more budget accommodation, you can always try the spa of another hotel. We pampered ourselves with the sauna, sensory shower and a massage at the spa of Hotel Lunetta near Campo de’ Fiori and absolutely loved it.
6. Visit the Vatican
Except for the gardens and St. Peter’s Square, all places to visit in the Vatican are indoor, the most important being St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. The good thing is that these two areas of the Vatican are big enough that they will take you a whole day to visit well. To see all the things you can do in the Vatican, check out my full guide.
Obviously, St. Peter’s Basilica is not the only church worth visiting in Rome. Here is our suggestions for lesser-known churches you won’t want to miss.
7. Shop at a local market
In Rome you can find delicious fresh produce and regional specialities, and local markets are always the best place for this type of shopping. Whether you are staying at an apartment and you need to do some grocery shopping or you want some gifts for family and friends back home, here you can find pretty much anything. Some of the best local markets to visit on a rainy morning in Rome are Mercato Trionfale (Via Doria 3), Mercato Testaccio (Via Beniamino Franklin) and Nuovo Mercato Esquilino (Via Filippo Turati 160).
8. Discover Rome’s first pharmacy
Santa Maria della Scala in Trastevere is Rome’s first public pharmacy. Managed by the Discalced Carmelite friars, this ancient pharmacy has been healing patients since the 16th century. Today it’s possible to visit only with a guided tour and if you have time I suggest you do it. You will enter a small world of herbs, oils, potions and all sorts of techniques of ancient medicine.
9. Visit Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica
The resting place of Santa Cecilia, saint patron of music, this beautiful basilica often goes forgotten. Many tourists stop at the other great basilica of the neighbourhood, Santa Maria in Trastevere, but that’s a pity. Santa Cecilia church is actually a great visit not only for the modern church but also for the crypt and Roman domus in its underground. I’ve been there twice and whenever someone comes to visit me in Rome, I make sure we go to Santa Cecilia.
10. Allow yourself an aperitivo break
Call it aperitif, call it early dinner, this is a perfect way to round off a rainy day in Rome. Many restaurants, bistros and coffee shops organise a daily aperitif from around 6-6.30 to about 8-8.30 pm. Often it comes in the formula of unlimited buffet and one drink included in a fixed price so it can be a great way to have an early, healthy and cheap dinner in Rome, as well as trying a new restaurant you would have probably left out on a sunny day to stay out sightseeing.
Some places where they do a nice aperitif are Ketumbar for organic and vegetarian recipes, Said chocolate factory in San Lorenzo neighbourhood for great cocktails made also using their delicious chocolate, and T-Bar in Ostiense for a huge buffet of pizza, salads, grain salads and all types of snacks.
11. Get underground in Rome
There is a whole city under modern-day Rome and when it rains, it’s a fantastic way to stay indoors and keep exploring. Places like the catacombs, the Capuchin’s Crypt, the underground of San Clemente Basilica and the Stadium of Domitian underneath Piazza Navona are only some of the landmarks you can tick off your Rome bucket list when outside is pouring.
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