Even before August hits Rome, the streets begin to empty of its residents. So when the middle of the hottest month arrives, at least you’ve been prepared by degree for the mass exodus. It is a long-standing tradition that Italians take a holiday during August, sometimes for the whole month or for several weeks but surely on the 15th. August 15 is the holiday of all holidays in Italy: the beloved day of ferragosto. Ask many Italians and they will say it’s better than Christmas. Friends and family head to the mountains or the beach to relax, do nothing, and enjoy their time together.
While the beaches are crowded, the emptiness of Rome in August feels shocking. I’ve discovered over the years that the only way to be completely prepared for the closure of my favourite restaurants is it to expect that they will be closed. But that all good restaurants in Rome are closed in August is certainly not the case. If you’ll be in Rome when no one else will, take note of the restaurants listed below as they will continue to serve during all (or most) of the holiday month.
Flavio al Velavevodetto in Testaccio
This restaurant has become a Testaccio standard with good reason. It has delicious Roman food and is burrowed into Monte Testaccio. I love eating inside and admiring the sections of neatly stacked amphorae vases that the Roman threw away and of which the whole hill is composed. There is also seating outside on the terrace. You should always call ahead to book a table as it’s a popular spot, especially when there aren’t other places open.
La Renella in Trastevere
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but it is a pizzeria that serves a variety of pizzas by the slice. The ovens at La Renella burn all summer long, even on August 15. Another bonus is that La Renella is open until 2am, so if you’re craving a late-night snack after a night out in Trastevere, this is the place to please your stomach.
Lungo il Tevere
While so many areas in Rome feel like a desert island, the strip of land besides the river is always busy in the summer, especially in August. In the white tents that line the Tiber from Piazza Trilussa to Porta Portese are bars, restaurants, art exhibitions and shops. Sit outside and feast on whatever your heart desires. You’ll find sushi, burgers, fries, fish, pasta, and pizza of good and sometimes excellent quality.
Open Baladin in the Center
Open Baladin deserves to be on this list even though it’ll be closed for a week in August (from the 11th to 18th). Entering the cool restaurant on a hot day and sitting down for some chips, burger and cold microbrewed beer feels like its own holiday. While you’re sitting at the bar or on a vintage couch you’ll no doubt forget about how hot it is outside.
Naumachia in Celio
If you’re hungry and near the Colosseum dive into Naumachia for some pasta or pizza. There’s plenty of seating downstairs that always seems to be busy. Though the area around the Colosseum heavily touristed, the restaurant is surprisingly not only filled with tourists and serves good traditional Tuscan and Roman dishes. Naumachia is also open on August 15.
Roscioli in the Center
This place off the Via dei Giubbonari looks more like a high-end alimentari from the outside. Hanging prosciutto legs frame the window, and the cheeses are luxuriously displayed in the glass case that runs along the front. But go inside and you’ll find a restaurant that serves renowned pasta dishes like carbonara. Of course you can also come here to get your dried meats and fresh cheeses during August. Roscioli isn’t open on Sundays or on August 15.
Antico Arco near Monteverde Vecchio
Take in a sunset over Janiculum Hill then head through the old arch to eat dinner at this family-run restaurant. Antico Arco serves traditional Roman food with a twist, such as adding crunchy zucchini flowers to the old recipe for cacio e pepe. The restaurant is open for dinner and lunch even on August 15.
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