Once the new year festivities are over and the Epiphany is passed (January 6) the city of Rome tends to feel very quiet since the tourists tend to leave the city during this time of year. You’ll find more the best rates at hotels and vacation rentals (check out our special offers!) and don’t be surprised to even find restaurants advertising special offers to entice you to dine with them. While there are a lot less tourists, the restaurants, guides, and tour companies are still running. So for the budget seeker, January is an ideal time to visit Rome!
Weather in Rome in January
The temperature in Rome tends to plunge in January. You can expect more cloudy or rainy days than in December. Days are quite short, but generally if the sun does shine then more than just the spirits are lifted; you can often feel a great difference in temperature in the sun than in the shade in January. So a word of advice: find the sun and bask in it!
A few cloudy and rainy days are mixed in with some sunny winter days, but every day requires some kind of sweater or jacket combo. Don’t forget a good scarf and hat to keep your ears warm. Especially if you’re traveling from a warm climate, January nights can be literally freezing. January temperatures can dip to the low-30s at night and reach just mid-50s during the day. While snow is rare in Rome, you’ll still want to pack the thicker coats and socks. It’s always advised that if you head out for the day to bring an extra layer with you.
Looking for an umbrella or jacket or scarf?
Despite your best intentions you forgot an umbrella that suddenly became a necessity, or you didn’t pack enough warm clothes? For an inexpensive umbrella (and perhaps some cheeky novelty gifts) check out any one of the many Flying Tiger Copenhagen stores that are scattered all over the historic center. Inevitably when the cloud cover comes, there will be plenty of street salesmen stocked with umbrellas. We advise not purchasing from them as the quality of the umbrellas isn’t worth the €5-10 they’ll ask you.
If you’re looking for a jacket, head to one of the main streets full of shops. We’ve written about where to go shopping in Rome before. Look for an H&M, Zara or OVS for quick, ready-to-wear solutions that will keep you toasty as the temperatures drop.
La Befana in Rome
It’s only the last few decades that Christmas in Rome has received much of the attention that it gets in northern Europe on in North America. For Italians, La Befana, or the Epiphany (which falls on January 6 each year) is the more important holiday. According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men who visited the newborn baby Jesus 12 days after his birth.
The image of La Befana is likely confusing for Americans and other Anglo-Saxon cultures that celebrate halloween. The Befana is characterized by an old, ugly woman who rides a broom, much like the witch that haunts in October. The Befana is a generous, kind old woman despite her appearance, bringing gifts and candy to children, or at least to those who have been good all year.
La Befana is a national holiday in Italy, so expect to find government agencies and banks closed on this day. However you won’t find any interruption of service at restaurants, museums, or archeological sites.
The chilly weather in January in Rome means it’s a good time to be inside. Some of our favorite ways to escape the chill is to visit one of the lesser known museums and sites or stop in one of Rome’s luxury hotels for spot of tea!
November may be the best month to visit museums as a way to escape any inclement weather or cooler temperatures. Perennial museums like the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums are always a good idea. Or use the excuse of staying inside to visit some of the lesser known museums and sites like Villa Medici, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and Quirinal Palace.
Check out our recent post on 5 temporary exhibitions that are not-to-miss this winter! They’re an excellent excuse to escape the cold outside and gain some new perspectives inside.
High Tea in Rome
It’s true that Rome isn’t particularly known for it’s high tea culture, but that’s not to say that the city doesn’t have some world class high tea experiences available! Check out our post on High Tea in Rome to get the scoop on where to go!
*Is there anywhere else you would suggest taking high tea in Rome? Share you’re advice in the comments below!
Coffee Shop Culture
Looking for the nearest coffee shop to get some work done, dive into a good book, or just chat over a cappuccino? Coffee shop culture is a bit of a novelty in Rome (and Italy in general), but we put together a list of some of our favorite coffee shops and secret corners where you can get away for a cosy afternoon.
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Have you visited Rome in January? Share your experience with us in the comments below!