February in Rome is not only about Carnival! Although it is the shortest month of the year, its 28 days are full of things to do in Rome. In this guide for those with a sweet tooth I show you the sweetest and coffeiest corners of the Eternal City; how to visit the museums for free, without forgetting Valentine's Day and lovers. As the Spanish proverb says "lo bueno, si breve, lo bien, dos veces bueno".
1. Have fun at the Roman Carnival!
If you travel to Rome in this month you can enjoy one of the most spectacular events of the Eternal City: the Roman Carnival, which usually coincides with the second half of February. You will see how the main streets are filled with color and excitement and you will find a multitude of festive parades with their Roman characters.
The program, which concentrates its activities around Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso, usually includes a jazz concert, a large parade of horses, masks, games for children, theater and fireworks. If you don't wear a costume, don't worry, because you can buy your original handmade mask in a store. I took it as a souvenir, you'll love it!
Do you know where they come from?
The Roman Carnival was for centuries a great event for the Roman population, in which everything was allowed: orgies, luxurious meals, sacrifices and masked dances. During these days, slaves were freed from their obligations and changed their role to that of their owners.
Taste the typical Carnival sweets!
If you have a sweet tooth, I advise you to take the opportunity to try the typical desserts of these celebrations, among which are the castagnole alla romana, a kind of fried fritter made following the traditional recipe and shaped like a chestnut; the bocconotti di ricotta, filled with ricotta cheese, sugar, cinnamon and candied fruit, and the frappe, crunchy sweets flavored with limoncello or other liquor and covered with plenty of powdered sugar. You'll lick your fingers!
2. Explore the Castelli Romani and attend the burning of Pulcinella
If you are fortunate enough to spend a week or so in Rome, I recommend that you save one of them for the Carnival held in Frascati, a town in the Castelli Romani ("Castles of Rome") famous for its natural beauty, its historical heritage and its enviable culinary and white wine culture. You can even take advantage of the day for an exquisite wine tasting.
What is the Carnival of Frascati?
The program starts with the symbolic act of the delivery of the keys of the town by the mayor to King Pupone and includes a colorful parade of floats and masks. You will be surprised because you will see a human tide dressed in white, as if they were the Valencian fallas!
The event ends on Shrove Tuesday in the main square of the town with the famous rite of the burning of Pulcinella, one of the most beloved and typical characters at this time in Italy, characterized by a large hooked nose. After the cremation of the huge puppet, the funeral procession takes place, which marks the transition to the beginning of Holy Week in Rome.
Colorful floats and fireworks
The most classic feature of the Frascati Carnival are the impressive floats, authentic works of art that attract thousands of visitors every year, made by Roman artisans and focusing on the political themes of the moment.
In addition, during the festivities you can enjoy music, traditional dances and delicious typical products. The festivities usually end with a grandiose fireworks display under the moonlight in the incomparable setting of the Roman castles.
3. Celebrate a movie Valentine's Day in the Eternal City
If you are traveling to Rome with your better half during this time of the year, what could be better than a date in one of the city's famous spots? You can enjoy a walk hand in hand through the gardens of Villa Borghese and its magical sculptures, seal your love with a kiss at the Trevi Fountain or take a boat ride on the Tiber. Just don't forget to throw the traditional coin in the Fountain, or don't you want to come back?
Stroll along the most famous bridges with padlocks
Another different plan that you can do with your partner is to walk along the best bridges in Rome where you will find a surprise... Thousands of padlocks locked!
This tradition became fashionable a few years ago after the release of the best seller, Ho voglia di te (in English, 'I'm in the mood for you'), by Italian author Federico Moccia, which was followed by the movie. In the story, young lovers tie a chain and a padlock to the Milvio Bridge in Rome, throw the key into the Tiber River and swear eternal love to each other. So you know!
Following this, all over the country you can see padlocks placed in the most unsuspected places. However, here are some other romantic places in Rome to surprise your life and travel partner.
Conquer your partner through the stomach
If you want to complete your date with a romantic evening, I suggest you to invite your partner to dinner at one of the amazing restaurants in Trastevere. In this post I leave you a list of where you can dine in Trastevere. After these delicacies and with the charm that Trastevere has at night, who wouldn't fall in love again?
4. Discover Campo dei Fiori and its seasonal produce
If you want to do your own "Eat, Pray, Love" (2010) like Julia Robert in the movie, in which she decides to travel the world, go to the Campo dei Fiori market, the most picturesque and folkloric of the city. There, as happened to our protagonist in Rome, you will discover what it means to eat with capital letters and all the ritual that surrounds it, such as strolling and buying fresh produce in the hundreds of stalls. The more daring will be able to have one of the famous Roman ice creams in Piazza Navona, which is very close by. If you are left wanting more after this experience I recommend this post about places to eat in Rome.
In this festival of smells and flavors you can enjoy seasonal products such as almonds, chestnuts and walnuts, which are used so much in Roman cuisine. You will stroll through the colorful fruit stalls and come across the house specialty: the unmissable Roman artichokes.
Market by day, entertainment center by night
Since 1869, every morning, except on Sundays, the square is full of fruit, vegetable, meat, chicken and fresh fish stores. Finally, take a stroll through the flower stalls and listen to one of the street musicians who animate the market. If you go in the evening, you will notice that the esplanade has become one of the meeting places for nightlife with its restaurants, cocktail bars, cinemas and theaters.
- Where: Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 00186
- How to get there: it is located in the historical center and there are no metro stops nearby, but you can easily reach it by bus or on foot. The nearest metro stops are: Piazza di Spagna (Metro A), Colosseo (metro B) and Termini (A and B).
5. Slide for the last time on the ice rinks... Be careful!
To wash down the Italian feast (consisting mainly of pasta and pizza), a good sports plan is to skate on the ice rinks of the Eternal City with your partner, friends or family. In February you will have one of the last chances of the year to slide on the artificial snow, and you will have a great time!
Normally, these facilities are open between December and February. The most majestic setting you will find in Rome dedicated to this activity is the ice rink located next to the Castel Sant' Angelo in Piazza Adriana. This is where one of Rome' s Christmas markets is usually held, where you can have a hot chocolate or mulled wine, recover your energy and admire the imposing building. You'll love this place!
6. Take advantage of Sundays to visit the museums for free!
A great plan for Sundays, even better than the movie and the blanket, to protect yourself from the cold is to stay warm in the Roman museums surrounded by the great works of Rubens, Raphael and Caravaggio. Doesn't sound bad, does it?
Besides, if I tell you that during the first Sunday of the winter months the entrance is completely free, the plan could not be more rounded. And economical! However, you should know that in the most popular ones there are long queues, such as to buy tickets for the Colosseum or to buy tickets for Castel Sant'Angelo... On the other hand, tickets to the Vatican Museums are free during the last Sunday of the month. Be patient before you go!
Here is a list of what, in my opinion, are the best museums in the Eternal City:
- The Vatican Museums
- The Capitoline Museums
- The Borghese Gallery
- Castel Sant'Angelo
- Palazzo Massimo
- Altemps Palace
- Barberini Palace
7. Tune your ears and take shelter from the cold at the opera house
If the day gets rainy, a good idea is to buy tickets for the Rome Opera House, which in autumn and winter presents its agenda full of plays and concerts and becomes a great plan to combat the weather. Ballet and opera performances are held in two different venues: the Teatro Constanzi and the Teatro Nazionale.
The auditoriums will blow your mind! In particular, they reminded me of the majestic Vienna Opera. A play? I recommend you go to Teatro Constanzi to see La Traviata, a classic by Giuseppe Verdi dating back to 1853. The story tells of the impossible love between a courtesan and a young bourgeois in the 19th century. Pack some smart casual clothes for the event!
8. Enjoy the city without traffic on Green Sundays
Winter in Rome has a special charm. In addition to the possibility of contemplating the city dyed white by snow, as happened in 2018, when the Capitol and the monuments of Rome were buried under a beautiful white veil, you can walk some Sundays in the city without traffic. An experience that you will love!
Can you imagine discovering the Eternal City snowed in and without cars? During the winter months, the Italian capital strives to reduce pollution and prohibits the entry of vehicles into the city center, except for those using low-polluting energies such as electric vehicles.
9. Warm up in Rome's best coffee shops
In Rome, coffee shops have a special aroma. In any place of the Italian capital you will be served a delicious coffee and at good prices for the common mortals. This drink is one of the symbols of the dolce far niente. Here is a list of my favorite coffee shops:
- Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè (Piazza Sant'Eustachio, 82): it is a cozy place from 1938 that preserves the original mosaics and decoration. It will surprise you because it smells of coffee before you enter. It also sells a wide variety of products to take home as souvenirs with ground coffee, coffee beans dipped in chocolate, coffee truffles, coffee liqueur and even coffee pots - a temple for caffeine addicts!
- Café Greco (Via Condotti, 86): if you want to travel back in time, sit at one of the tables of this historic cafe open since 1760 in Rome. It is considered the oldest in the Eternal City and the second oldest in Italy, second only to another place in Venice.
10. Escape to Florence for the Chocolate Fair
The Eternal City is fascinating, but if you want to complete your trip with a different getaway, I advise you to visit Florence on an excursion from Rome, the cradle of art and the Italian Renaissance, which in February holds one of its sweetest festivals: the Chocolate Fair. In this article I explain how to get from Rome to Florence easily.
Usually the artisan chocolate fair, which involves chefs and chocolatiers from all over Italy, is held in Piazza Santa Croce in February and usually lasts about 10 days. Here you can taste the best chocolate, have an aperitif in the afternoon and enjoy the cooking classes - a hot chocolate in winter will taste great!
February temperatures in Rome
If you are traveling to the Eternal City on these dates, you are lucky because the Roman capital offers one of the best temperatures in Europe in February. In general, the thermometers will mark maximums of between 12º C and 14º C and minimums of 3º C and 4º C. On the other hand, rainfall decreases quite a lot, in particular, it usually rains about 7 days a month. Even so, be foresighted and don't forget your umbrella, just in case.
What to pack for a visit to Rome in February
- Boots or closed and comfortable shoes
- Wool hat
- Scarf (the star accessory for this season)
- Thermal or woolen gloves
- Sweaters or sweatshirts that keep you warm
- Thick pants
- Coat or jacket
- Thermal socks, feet first!