All roads lead to Rome, and I know because I’ve seen the tour buses. Along Via della Conciliazione outside the Vatican, and anywhere within selfie distance of the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, or Spanish Steps, the constant unloading of eager visitors has you questioning at times why you left home in the first place. Simply waiting for the toilette inside the Colosseum on a busy, sweltering afternoon renews the meaning of the “Eternal City.”
But hope is not lost, as I discovered last summer. With creative advance work, and, in my case, the aid of a savvy travel advisor, Rome’s wonders and romance open like the colonnades around Saint Peter’s Square. When you’re visiting in ultra-high season – such as the late-June trip I took with my wife and teenage son – some clever adjustments can make the difference between a veritable logjam and la dolce vita.
“Everybody loves Rome, but that means everybody wants to be there,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Adamarie King, who splits her time between Mexico and Italy. She restored a house in an Umbrian hamlet three decades ago and visits Rome three to four times a year. “You need to know how to beat the lines so you can feel like a local and not lose your mind.”
Here’s how to do as the Romans do, even at the tourist peak.