Whoever said that the Italians don't work in August? As humor columnist Dave Barry once quipped while writing from his Italian vacation, "Summer in Italy means even the statues are on vacation". He was referring to the tendency however, come July, of the masking every building and statue worth seeing in tarps and scaffolding. The problem is, at some point in August everyone goes on vacation, leaving tourists to ponder what incredible building to behold must be hiding underneath it all. But this year, while you can only partially see one of my favorite sculptures in all of Italy - Bernini's elephant in Piazza Minerva right near the Pantheon - It's the entire country which seems to be under construction. But just for the record, I for one am delighted about much of the road works in Rome.
In Rome, they've started their own sort of Big Dig: Digging up the entire Piazza di San Silvestro (near Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps) to turn it into a lovely park which will host events (and with the recent redesign to reduce the number of benches, hopefully host fewer homeless).
Try to catch a bus to go to Piazza Navona? Think twice. Via del Risorgimento (the street housing the Italian Senate) is totally closed to traffic while they dig up the entire street).
In Torino (Turin), the one place that gets mostly business travelers, but, with its awesome cultural offering could, indeed attract summer visitors, we found the entire airport closed for renovation.
And, speaking of airports, a recent visit there brought a huge new improvement, the likes of which have never been seen: All of Rome's airport entranceways were littered with policemen, ushering traffic through, so no more airport pickups & dropoffs (with their accompanying quadruple-parked cars) were allowed. Instead, they've instituted a fabulous 30 min free parking system in the parking structures. Pure Bliss.
Same thing was found (at long long last) at Rome's Stazione Termini train station. No more quadruple-parked cars blocking all traffic in and around the station. Let's hope this is not just a summer breezeway...
Keying into the RyanAir website (I know, I know, I later got ahold of myself and put my masochistic tendencies aside), I discovered that they cite a number of Italian cities no longer being served. So, you might want to check your ticket to see what happens next.
And, anyone driving around Italy, should always keep in mind that in most every town, you cannot go into the historical city centre until after 6pm - even if you're staying in a hotel there and need to somehow have your luggage with you when you arrive. Just don't do it. It's a hefty form of 'tourist tax' which will really dent your wallet upon your return home.