There is something special about Rome in the winter.
While the weather may be grey and dreary most of the time, the sun occasionally comes out and the sky radiates a blue brighter than the clearest summer day.
The warm colors of the buildings seem to be enhanced, and the people even seem a little bit more cheerful as they walk somewhat more hastily, with runny noses and rosy cheeks. Small dogs proudly accompany their owners, wearing red knit Christmas sweaters. Toddlers and grandfathers alike bundle up in those oh-so-characteristically-Italian puffy coats.
While the sun sets early, the cool cotton candy colors set a mood which cannot compare to the fiery skies from the summer sun. The brown tree branches alongside the river have died in a glorious series of arches that stretch as far as the eye can see, making a sort of tunnel effect for people who walk under them.
Best of all, it is still possible to sit outside and enjoy the lively atmosphere thanks to many restaurants’ outdoor space heaters, and sometimes even complementary blankets.
Winter in Rome is a magical place, filled with small shops selling handmade Christmas trinkets, and children running back and forth between the wooden stalls and the carousel at the Christmas market in Piazza Navona.
The streets are silent, and it is as if the whole city has bundled up inside to stay warm. The only noises heard are the occasional screeching of tracks from the tram as it passes over Ponte Garibaldi or the church bells which chime from every which direction each hour.
Apartments, on the other hand, are a different story. Most complexes are older than the United States as a country, meaning those damp and rainy days tend to creep inside.
In this case, the only solution is to curl up with a blanket and greet the dampness with a bowl of warm tomato based gnocchi - the ultimate comfort food - and a cup of rich Italian hot chocolate… or red wine.
Perhaps winter is the best time to visit Rome, the real Rome. Where street vendors are too cold to even bother you, where waiters don’t automatically speak English to you, and where you can truly catch a glimpse of this magical city all to yourself.