February in Rome is not just about Carnival! Although it's the shortest month of the year, its 28 days are packed with things to do in Rome. In this guide for those with a sweet tooth, I'll show you the sweetest and coffeiest spots in 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. Visit the most romantic places in Rome for Valentine's Day
If you travel to Rome with your better half during this time of year, you can enjoy a stroll hand in hand through the Villa Borghese gardens and its magical sculptures, seal your love with a kiss at the Trevi Fountain or take a boat trip on the Tiber. Just don't forget to throw the traditional coin in the fountain, or don't you want to go back?
Take a tour of fountains and squares or discover the padlocked bridges
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!
This tradition became fashionable a few years ago after the release of the best seller, Ho voglia di te, by the Italian author Federico Moccia, which was followed by the film. In the story, young lovers tie a chain and a padlock to the Milvio Bridge in Rome, throw the key into the river Tiber and swear eternal love to each other. So now you know!
Conquer your partner through the stomach
If you want to complete your date with a romantic evening, I suggest you 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 have dinner in Trastevere. After these delicacies and with the charm that Trastevere has at night, who wouldn't fall in love again?
2. Tune your ears and take shelter from the cold at the opera house
If the day turns rainy, a good idea is to buy opera tickets in Rome, which in the winter has a full schedule of plays and concerts and is a great way to beat 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 to 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!
Here is our post on how to get your tickets for the opera in Rome.
3. Have fun at the Roman Carnival!
If you travel to Rome this month you can enjoy one of the most spectacular events in the Eternal City: the Roman Carnival, which usually takes place in the second half of February. You will see how the main streets are filled with colour and excitement, and you will find a multitude of festive parades with their Roman characters.
The programme, which concentrates its activities around Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso, usually includes a jazz concert, a great parade of horses, masks, games for children, theatre and fireworks.
Do you know where it originated?
The Roman Carnival was for centuries a big event for the Roman population, where everything was allowed: orgies, lavish 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 the castagnole alla romana, a kind of fried fritter, bocconotti di ricotta and frappe.
4. Discover the Campo dei Fiori and its seasonal products
If you want to do your own "Eat, Pray, Love" (2010) like Julia Robert in the film, in which she decides to travel the world, go to the Campo dei Fiori market, the most picturesque and folkloric market in the city. Here, as happened to our protagonist in Rome, you will discover what it means to eat in capital letters and all the rituals that surround it, such as strolling around and buying fresh produce from the hundreds of stalls.
At this festival of smells and flavours you can enjoy seasonal produce such as almonds, chestnuts and walnuts, which are so popular in Roman cuisine. Stroll around the colourful fruit stalls and come across the house speciality: the unmissable Roman artichokes.
Market by day, entertainment centre by night
Every morning since 1869, except on Sundays, the square has been full of shops selling fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fresh fish. If you go there 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 theatres.
5. Take a trip to Frascati and enjoy its carnival
If you are fortunate enough to spend a week or so in Rome, I recommend that you save one of them for a trip to see the Carnival in Frascati, a town in the Castelli Romani ("Castles of Rome") famous for its natural beauty, historical heritage and enviable culinary and white wine culture. You can even take advantage of the day to go wine tasting.
What does the Frascati Carnival consist of?
The programme starts with the symbolic handing over of the keys of the town by the mayor to King Pupone and includes a colourful parade of floats and masks. 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 of this time of the year in Italy, characterised by a big hooked nose.
6. Escape to Florence for the Chocolate Fair
The Eternal City is fascinating, but if you want to complete your trip with a different kind of getaway, I suggest you visit Florence on an excursion from Rome, the cradle of Italian art and renaissance, which in February hosts one of its sweetest festivals: the Chocolate Fair. In this article I explain how to get from Rome to Florence easily.
The artisan chocolate fair, in which chefs and chocolatiers from all over Italy participate, is usually held in Piazza Santa Croce in February and usually lasts about 10 days. Here you can sample the best chocolate, have an afternoon aperitif and enjoy the cooking classes - a hot chocolate in winter will taste great!
7. Take advantage of Sundays to visit the museums for free!
A great plan for Sundays, even better than a movie and a blanket, to protect you 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?
What's more, if I tell you that on the first Sunday of the winter months admission is completely free, the plan couldn't be better. And cheap! 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
8. Slide for the last time on the ice rinks... Be careful!
To wash down the Italian binge (consisting mainly of pasta and pizza), a good sporting plan is to skate on the Eternal City's ice rinks with your partner, friends or family. In February you'll have one of the last chances of the season to slide on the artificial snow, and you'll have a blast!
These facilities usually open between December and February. The most majestic setting you'll find in Rome dedicated to this activity is the ice rink located next to 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 location!
9. Enjoy the traffic-free city on eco-friendly Sundays
Winter in Rome has a special charm. In addition to the possibility of seeing the city dyed white with snow, as happened in 2018, when the Capitol and the monuments of Rome were buried under a beautiful white veil, you can walk around the city on some Sundays without traffic, an experience 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 bans vehicles from entering the city centre, except for those using low-polluting energy sources such as electric vehicles.
10. Warm up in Rome's best coffee shops
In Rome, cafés have a special aroma. Any café in the Italian capital will serve you delicious coffee at prices that are affordable for the average person. This drink is one of the symbols of la dolce far niente. Here is a list of my favourite coffee shops:
- Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè (Piazza Sant'Eustachio, 82): it is a cosy place from 1938 that preserves the original mosaics and decoration. You will be surprised 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 in this historic café open since 1760 in Rome. It is considered the oldest in the Eternal City and the second oldest in Italy, only surpassed by another café in Venice.
February temperatures in Rome
If you are travelling to the Eternal City at this time of year, you are lucky because the Roman capital offers some of the best temperatures in Europe in February. In general, the thermometers will show highs of between 12º C and 14º C and lows of 3º C and 4º C. On the other hand, rainfall is decreasing quite a lot, in particular, it usually rains about 7 days a month. Still, be prepared and don't forget your umbrella, just in case.
What to pack for your visit to Rome in February
- Boots or comfortable closed-toe shoes
- Woollen hat
- Scarf (the star accessory for this season)
- Warm gloves or woollen gloves
- Jumpers or sweatshirts that keep you warm
- Thick trousers
- Coat or jacket
- Warm socks - feet first!