Summer high season in Rome means a flood of tourists into the already scorching city. Add in a few thousand eager foreigners and the city becomes a humid, crowded bubble of heat.
With temperatures soaring, it is difficult to make your way around the city without wilting like an under-watered flower. However, there is a way (two ways in fact!) to beat the heat when Rome starts sizzling and experience Italian life at the same time.
Rome is not too far from the Tyrrhenian coast line and two oases wait just outside the city:
Lido di Ostia
The closest beach, called the Lido di Ostia is a mere half hour from Rome, reached by the Roma-Ostia-Lido train line.
Like any other seaside town, one can expect cute shops, an outdoor nightlife, and devoted sunbathers roaming the town. Ostia is packed during summer months because of its close proximity to the city and tourists, along with Italian locals, flock to its shores when the mercury starts climbing.
If you feel like staying for the weekend, there are some reasonably priced hotels, but I would advise staying in the city and making it out to Ostia as a day trip. The only downside to this beach is its cleanliness, or lack thereof, but if you’re short on time, it will do in a pinch.
To get to the beach, take the Rome Metro line B to the Piramide stop. Once there, take a left and you’ll find the Porta San Paolo station, which will take you directly to Ostia. It is included in the metro system, so you can use the metro ticket you’ve already purchased (€1) to get you there.
If you have more time and don’t mind venturing a little further outside the city, the sunny beach town of Sperlonga has all your sunbathing needs and more.
The resort is about an hour away from Rome by train. Trains go directly from Roma Termini station to Fondi-Sperlonga,on the Roma-Napoli line. Tickets at the time of writing cost EUR6.20 each way. From the Fondi train station,you catch the constantly circulating bus to Sperlonga for EUR1. Make sure you look at the sign on the front of the bus to see which direction it is going; otherwise you may end up in the town of Fondi and have to backtrack to the train station and start all over again.
The town is cute without being kitsch and the beaches are much cleaner than the Lido of Ostia.
Once at the beach you will find plenty deckchairs and ombrellone (large, beach umbrellas) that vary in cost, depending on your proximity to the water. However, if you continue down the beach, there are free areas where you can lay down your towel and get your tan on.
In the summer, they have outdoor music festivals each night, so those who stay past sundown will still be entertained. If you find you are soaking in too much sun and want to escape the beach, you can find refuge at the WWF Nature Reserve or explore the caves of the Tiberius grotto, which once housed grand banquets thrown by the second emperor of the Roman Empire.
About the author: Sara Hefny hails from the wonderfully overcast city of Seattle, where she studied Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington. She currently lives in Rome, Italy and is researching the developments in European Union migration policy following the recent influx of North African refugees. When she is not researching or writing, her time is spent appreciating Italian cuisine and wandering the Eternal City with a gelato in hand. You can read more about her adventures in Rome on her blog.