holy hellfire: 5 ways to beat the Roman heat

Rome is hot.

No, that’s an understatement. With a forecast of temperatures ranging from 89-96 degrees, this week is going to be as hot as Hades. Here’s how to stay cool despite feeling like you’re melting into a pool.

The city juice is a godsend: cold, clean water plus a view of the Pantheon.

The city juice is a godsend: cold, clean water plus a view of the Pantheon.

1. Invest in a water bottle.

Nothing is worse than dehydration, and with all the walking you’ll be doing, water is essential. I’ve been here for a week and what shocks me is the lack of water-drinking. In the States it’s basically ingrained in our heads from day one: drink water. However, while all the cozy little cafés are inviting and relaxing, the charge of two euros per bottle of water is not. The bottom line is that you do need to drink water. Your best bet is to buy a bottle of water at a mini mart and reuse it by refilling it from one of the many drinking fountains sprinkled among the piazzas. Don’t worry– this city juice is safe to drink, and best of all, it’s cold.

In addition to providing a prime view, the breeze from outside your window is just right for resetting the ambience to a more comfortable temperature.

In addition to providing a prime view, the breeze from outside your window is just right for resetting the ambience to a more comfortable temperature.

2. Open your windows while you’re out during the day.

Evenings in Roma are actually very pleasant and cool in contrast to the sweltering afternoons– they feel to the touch around 70 degrees. As energy is extremely expensive, air conditioning is not a commonplace commodity. Not only does opening your windows turn your Amazonian jungle of a room into a breezy bungalow, but it saves a lot of energy. And trust me, the last thing you want after a long day of traipsing through the cobblestone streets is to return to a stuffy room. (Ed. note: just be sure to close them when it gets dark outside– don’t quote me on it, but there aren’t any bug huts to my knowledge.)

The cappuccino: cupping the essence of tiny but mighty, and not just in the sense of giving yourself an energy boost.

The cappuccino: cupping the essence of tiny but mighty, and not just in the sense of giving yourself an energy boost.

3. Drink a cappuccino.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want a hot cup of Joe when it’s burning hellfire outside?! But it isn’t rocket science that sweat cools you off, and likewise, drinking a delicious, hot cappuccino will cause your body to cool itself off faster than you can say Starbucks. In Italy, and Europe in general, there is no such concept of an “iced coffee.” There is cappuccino freddo, but it’s slightly cooler than room temperature. If you absolutely cannot fathom the idea of downing espresso shots, gelato is a delicious alternative, or the famous caffé granita con panna.

Not even just for walking, the sides of the Tiber River are great running and biking trails for exercise enthusiasts. I'd recommend evening or early morning for the best temperatures.

Not even just for walking, the sides of the Tiber River are great running and biking trails for exercise enthusiasts. I’d recommend evening or early morning for the best temperatures.

4. Walk along the river.

The narrow cobblestone streets can be tough to navigate, and when combined with heat, it can lead to frustration, especially for impatient people like myself. I’ve found solace (and shade) in walking alongside the river. There is always a very nice breeze and it’s lined with trees that provide maximum shade opportunities. It’s a great way to cool off and calm your mind. (Ed. note: not to mention, it’s a beautiful photo op of Rome.)

A museum, air conditioner, and spiritual refresher all in one…Did I mention it's free?

A museum, air conditioner, and spiritual refresher all in one…Did I mention it’s free?

5. Go inside.

No, I don’t mean back to your residence– you’re in Rome for crying out loud! I mean go inside buildings, shops, caffés. Many of Rome’s greatest hidden treasures are found inside. Take the churches, for example. If you’re not religiously inclined, they’re still wonderful for art aficionados, as it is akin to walking into a museum. You can see the miraculous works of Bernini and other famous artists in even the most unassuming church! Even if religion and art aren’t particularly your forte, at least go inside to get a nice whiff of cold air. Almost every church I’ve been into has been significantly colder than outside.

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