Italy in the spring semester is utterly enchanting—sunny walks by the Tiber, pasta picnics in Villa Borghese, and scenic train rides through the countryside are just a few of the wonders we get to experience as spring semester study abroad students. However, like any country, Italy occasionally gets some rain. Having been faced with rain a handful of times now, I’ve formulated a list of the ways to maximize your time in Italy, no matter the weather:
- Visit a museum: All over Rome, and Italy as a whole, there are more museums than you can imagine, all filled with art, artifacts, and history to discover. Several of my on-site Art History class visits have been dampened by rain, but being able to take refuge inside a museum keeps the day from being lost. We visited Cinecittà, the feature film studios opened during the fascist regime, and were able to pair outdoor set tours with indoor exhibits on the history of the studios and its films. We visited Villa Torlonia, a beautiful estate housing a museum of Novecento art, an underground bunker, and a house full of stained glass. We even visited a spot next door to Temple, the house museum full of sculptures made by the Norwegian American artist Hendrik Christian Andersen, which is a convenient and memorable rainy day activity. One of my favorite spots I’ve seen in the rain is the Castel Sant’Angelo, a former fortress that contains papal apartments and the emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum. From the top of the Castel, you see panoramic views of the city, and the gray weather appropriately fits the monument’s ominous vibe
- Watch a movie: While this could be said for a rainy day anywhere in the world, watching a movie is a great way to kill time while the rain passes in Italy. During a weekend trip to Bologna, after toughing out some hours in the rain (and snow!), my friend and I decided to see The Post: in Italian. Besides providing a great opportunity to work on our language skills, this experience gave us a peak into the minute differences between Americans and Italians in everyday activities. For example, halfway through the film, in the middle of a scene, there was an intermission, unlike we’d ever experienced at a movie in the US. While we certainly missed some of the movie’s plot points, it was an overall fun and informative experience. Alternatively, if you’d rather see a movie in your own language, there are several original-language movie theaters in Rome, and several more that show movies with English subtitles.
- Visit a food market: Wander the aisles of a covered market full of vendors offering up free samples of mozzarella, prosciutto, and bread soaked in fresh olive oil. In addition to more authentic food markets (my personal favorites being the Campagna Amica organic market near Circus Maximus, and Mercato Trionfale, the biggest market in Rome, right near the Temple Residence), I’ve enjoyed visiting Eataly for its festive food celebrations. In Bologna, I was able to visit FICO Eataly World, the world’s largest agri-food park, where I could see live demonstrations of food production processes and take a free tasting tour of Carnevale sweets. I also dropped by an Eataly festival in Rome celebrating the maritozzo, a traditional dessert of Lazio consisting of a sweet roll filled with whipped cream. These food market visits are a fun way to experience Roman culinary culture from the comfort of the great indoors!
- Brave the elements: Sometimes, despite the weather, you just have to tough it out and see the sites. When I’d purchased advance tickets to tour the Colosseum and Roman Forum, I couldn’t let the rain and wind keep me inside. With an umbrella and a positive attitude, there isn’t much you can’t do or see in Italy!