Any season has its reason, and every city shines under different lights at different times. Aside from whether or not that really means anything, Rome is worth visiting, even (especially?) in winter. Here are three reasons and a bunch more photos to explain why.
1. Far Fewer Tourists
If you think of yourself as a tourist when you come to Rome, you might note the irony of trying to avoid yourself. If you’re reading this you’re probably a traveller, an explorer, a person with an open mind that wants to experience the authenticity of a place, not check sites off a list. The latter (tourists) can be very annoying, occupying narrow sidewalks and standing awkwardly in front of monuments (and, face it, they are not always very attractive). Except for the days around Christmas there are a lot few tourists in Rome these days, the lines are shorter or non-existent. It’s a real privilege to spend time in St. Peter’s or the Forum without feeling claustrophobic.
2. Winter Food
If you’ve been to the Rome in the spring or summer and remember strawberries, cherries, peaches, fava beans and piles of ripe tomatoes.
In the winter everything is different. Forget about the fresh tomatoes. Italy has rejected so far the obsession with getting everything everywhere all the time.
Winter means citrus fruits, winter greens like broccoli, cabbage and chicory, and by late winter artichokes (a staple of Roman markets but only when they are in season). Hearty red wines go down great on a chilly winter day. And by the standards of many world cities, Rome’s winters are mild and the moments of warm sun frequent and memorable. I’ve eaten seafood outdoors in Ostia in January, warmed by the afternoon sun over the Mediterranean. Oh, the seafood, and just about everything else, is more abundant and cheaper in the winter.
3. The Light
The light in Rome is always special, but clear winter days make the colors shine in a particular way. Without the foliage, views open up which are masked in the summer. You can see the river, watch the swarming starlings, go for a run amidst the aqueducts (in the summer this would kill you). Even in the fog Rome is photogenic. Although the days are shorter, this just means less of a wait for the magic hour when the sun turns to rust.
You thought there were only three reasons? I failed to mention Saldi (cheap clothes), cheap flights, opera, no bugs, and virtually nothing closed for vacation.