Surviving Italy's Heatwave

The biggest news in Italy right now is the historic heatwave, which began a few weeks ago and seems to reluctant to leave...especially in the famously torrid cities of Rome and Florence.

hot-in-italy(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

If you are traveling in Italy during the summer, record breaking heatwave or not, you are likely to run into some sweltering Mediterranean weather. In this country in which air conditioning is not a given, it sometimes feels as if there is no respite. Here are some tips for finding a way to enjoy hot summer days in Italy without risking heatstroke!

  • Drink lots of water.You may be tempted to hop into one of the invitingly cool fountains bubbling away in the square, but don't do it! At the least you will be fined, and at the most, cause damage to a historic piece of art and be arrested. You can, however, take advantage of the public fountains gurgling potable water (called “nasoni” in Rome, but common in most Italian towns and cities). If there is a “non potabile” sign, keep walking, but otherwise drink to your fill and top up your water bottles throughout the day.

villa-lante-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

  • Follow the Mediterranean schedule. Though “orario continuato” is becoming more common in Italy, with stores and businesses open all day long, traditionally, Italians took a break for a few hours during the day to have a leisurely lunch with the family and rest during the hottest time of day. There is logic to this, especially during a vacation when you can set your own schedule, so consider spending the morning touring and then take a break in the afternoon, heading back out after 5 pm. Remember that in Italy, a late dinner is the norm, so you can still have a few good hours of touring before sitting down to eat at 8 or 9pm.

sleeping-cat-tuscany-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

  • Get out of the sun. Though there aren't many places in Italy with air conditioning, you can still get out of the sun by heading into a cool historic church and lingering awhile, visiting the many underground sites in Italy, including ancient catacombs and fabulous caves, and relaxing in one of the beautiful Italian gardens. Even an hour nursing a cool drink under the umbrellas of a sidewalk café can be enough to recharge your batteries for the next round of touring.

leuca-salento-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

  • When all else fails, head to the beach or lake. Yes, you are in Italy for the history and culture, but when the temperatures hover around 40°C for days on end, you have earned a day soaking in the sea or lake. Much of Italy's coast is breathtakingly beautiful, so you can chalk it up to “appreciating nature”...especially on the Amalfi Coast, in Puglia, and along the Tuscan coastline. Rent a lounger and umbrella from one of the seaside beach clubs, have lunch at the waterfront restaurant, and take a dip every hour or two to stay cool.


Gelato(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Related links:
Looking Cool in the Heat: What to Wear in Italy this Summer
Ferragosto: Chiuso per ferie
Taste of Summer: Tomatoes take Center Stage



Contributor: Rebecca Winke

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Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy