I lied about the zombies. But anyone who’s spent any time in Rome in August will sympathise with the sensation that it’s all just… well… a bit surreal. With at least half the population missing and the streets clear of cars, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on something, but this is actually a great time to explore Rome. So if you’ve come back before the rest of your friends, or have been here all month and you’re starting to go slightly crazed, here are six ideas for making the most of the Eternal City… updated for 2016!

 1. Tackle bureaucracy

Boring I know, but there are no queues in public offices at the moment so if you’ve been putting off renewing your medical card, sorting out your Permesso di Soggiorno or Carta d’Identità – now’s the time to do it. For example, the Municipio I offices in Via Petroselli, for residents in central Rome, stay open throughout the summer period – just with limited hours (mornings only) from July 18 until September 2. Have a look at the details here. You should be aware however that if you need Marca da Bollo stamps for residence permits not all the tabaccherie are open so you might have to go further afield for those.

Ease: *****

Fun: *

beer bottles

2. Party like the Romans

Plenty of Romans spend August here, so learn from the locals about how to make the most of the nightlife on offer. Many escape to the beach in the evening for an aperitivo or club night – try Tiki Bar at Ostia Village, Faber Beach or Vittoria in Ostia for a cocktail at sunset or after dark, while the gay-friendly beach clubs  Meditteranea and Settimo Cielo around the fourth and fifth varchi after the cancelli of Castelporziano offer some great DJ sets. Failing that, take a few beers down to the cancelli late afternoon and enjoy the sunset with friends. To reach Castelporziano by public transport, take the Ostia Lido train to Cristoforo Colombo and then the 07 or 062 MARE bus past the sand dunes. Just be aware that the buses stop running at around 21.30.

Of course, the Roma Estate programme also carries on right through until September, so you really have no excuse not to be sociable in the city as well: http://www.estateromana.comune.roma.it/

Ease: ***

Fun: *****

3. Cycle the city

If you’ve been toying with the idea of cycling around Rome a bit more, now’s the time to gain a bit of confidence on the roads. It’s really not that hot compared to other years so try planning out your route to work or just driving past some of the city’s prettiest monuments whilst getting fit – you’ll never get a better chance to make the most of car-free roads.

Ease: *****

Fun: ****

parkings a doddle

At least parking’s a doddle…

4. Try an open-air cinema

Even if you’re not a fan of multiplexes most of the year, there’s something about open-air cinema on a balmy summer evening which is hard to resist. This year Isola Tiberina, Piazza San Cosimato, Ex Dogana and Villa Borghese are all showing films, many of them free. Check out Zero Roma for the full programme:

Zero Roma summer cinema guide, 2016: http://zero.eu/magazine/cinema-estate-le-migliori-arene-estive-all-aperto-di-roma/

Ease: *****


5. Make the most of the museums

Is there a museum or art gallery you’ve been meaning to check out for ages, but have been constantly thwarted by the queues? Even the lines for the Musei Vaticani are tolerable at the moment, so plunge into that air-conditioning and make the most of the relatively empty halls.

Ease: ****

Fun: ****

6. Tackle that writing project

If Facebook and Instagram are overrun with holiday pics and “sorry, still away” messages, pull the plug on your smartphone and tackle that creative project you’ve been meaning to start. Launch a blog (this one took about half an hour to set up – you can probably tell, lol!) or write a speculative magazine article about your experiences in Rome to kick-start your freelance career. It might even be time to work on that post-apocalyptic novel you’ve been plotting about a major European city being completely abandoned by its population… and this time, you might just be inspired…

Ease: *****

Fun: ****

sunset beach

It’s gorgeous, but… where is everyone?