Tip #1: When traveling in Europe one often gets more bang for the buck if you choose to rent an entire flat while a local is on holiday vs. simply booking a room at the Holiday Inn Italiano. It's interesting because you are often able to meet the owner of the home or flat before they depart - you could also luck into a great recommendation on a cafe or nice place to take a walk.
Tip #2: Do not assume, and do not think like "uno stupido americano", aka ME in this instance. While I do fancy myself an avid adventurer, I must admit I really flopped on this one...and we're paying dearly for it. I'll explain...
Have you heard of the glorious Italian tradition of "Ferie"? Well, it's when all of the wise Italians take the entire month of August to go on Holiday. What a grand idea, one however, that I had never stopped to ask anyone "why?". "Why do Italians leave their beautiful homes and go elsewhere for a full month?" Dum dum dumm..
I now believe that Ferie happens because God has forsaken Italy in the 8th month of the year. He has turned on the giant heat lamp, "il sole", and he has walked away. Abandoning the Italians, and in turn us, leaving them to scatter for shelter and grasp for any semblance of a shadow they might find.
So, while it is perfectly typical for homes in Italy (and throughout Europe) not to have AC (yep, you heard it - no air conditioning)...it's really advised against to choose one as a rental in August. Oops.
So, it's day one and we've had the greatest pizza on earth as well as experienced the truest devastation - finding that our beloved Rome would likely top 105 degrees each afternoon during our stay. As we sit at the base of the remarkable Colosseum crying in our wine, knowing it is unlikely we will be able to enjoy the Eternal City the way we had imagined, we realize we must devise a plan. We notice that now (about 6pm local time), while it is quite humid and surely still in the 90's, it is tolerable as the unforgiving sun is considering resting for a few short hours. Hopefully it isn't merely the wine talking, but my easy-going husband (thank God!) and I have hatched what we believe to be a genius scheme.
We are not going to fight the six hour time difference. Instead, we are going to embrace it - using it to our advantage. We're planning to sleep through the heat then shower and get ready for the day around 5pm. We plan to watch the sun set over the Tiber River before we adventure through the old cobblestone streets. We'll end our days watching the big orange ball appear just behind the Flavian Amphitheater (official name of the Colosseum...see, I told you this would be educational!). Wilhelm and I will explore the city by night, bypassing the hours of unbearable heat and the hoards of fanny-pack-clad tourists.
Now, we do realize this will present a problem regarding tours and operating hours of the sights about Rome. But! With a bottle of wine (or two) and Rick Steves' audio guides (which by the way are AMAZING and free through his website) we are planning to get to know this beautiful city by moonlight.