Hours of Operation
Banks are typically open weekdays 8:30–1:30 and 2:45–3:45 or 3–4. Exchange offices are open all day, usually 8:30–8, although ATMs offer the most economical exchange rates.
Post offices are open Monday–Saturday 8–2; central and main district post offices stay open until 7 or 8 on weekdays for some operations. You can buy stamps (francobolli) at tobacconists (tabacchi).
Most gas stations are open Monday–Saturday, with only a few open on Sunday, and most close during weekday lunch hours and at 7 pm for the night. Many, however, have self-service pumps that are operational 24 hours a day, and gas stations on autostrade are open 24 hours.
Museum hours vary and may change with the seasons. Many important national museums are closed one day a week, often Monday. The Roman Forum, other sites, and some museums may be open until late in the evening during the summer. Always check before you go.
Most churches are open from early morning until noon or 12:30, when they close for two hours or more; they open again in the afternoon, generally around 4 pm, closing about 7 pm or later. Major cathedrals and basilicas, such as the Basilica di San Pietro, are open all day. Note that sightseeing in churches during religious rites is usually discouraged. Be sure to have some coins handy for the luce (light) machines that illuminate the works of art in the perpetual dusk of ecclesiastical interiors. A pair of binoculars will help you get a good look at painted ceilings and domes. Many churches do not allow you to take pictures inside. When permitted, use of flash is prohibited.
A tip for pilgrims and tourists keen to get a glimpse of the pope: avoid the weekly general audience on Wednesday morning in Piazza di San Pietro, and go to his Sunday Angelus instead. This midday prayer tends to be far less crowded (unless beatifications or canonizations are taking place) and is also shorter, which makes a difference when you're standing. He is, however, much further away.
Most pharmacies are open Monday–Saturday 8:30–1 and 4–8; some are open all night. A schedule posted outside each pharmacy indicates the nearest pharmacy open during off-hours (afternoons, through the night, and Sunday).
Shop hours vary. Many shops in downtown Rome are open all day during the week and also on Sunday, as are some department stores and supermarkets. Alternating city neighborhoods also have general once-a-month Sunday opening days. Otherwise, most shops throughout the city are closed on Sunday. Shops that take a lengthy lunch break are open 9:30–1 and 3:30–7:30 or 4–8. Many shops close for one half day during the week: generally Monday morning in winter and Saturday afternoon in summer.
Food shops are open 8–2 and 4–7:30, some until 8, and most are closed on Sunday. They also closed for one half day during the week, usually Thursday afternoon September–June and Saturday afternoon in July and August. Larger supermarket chains often stay open on Sundays.
Termini station has a large, modern shopping mall with more than a hundred stores, many of which are open late in the evening. Pharmacies, bookstores, and boutiques, as well as cafés, bathrooms, ATMs, and money-exchange services, a first-aid station, and an art gallery and exhibition center can all be found here. The Drug Store here (which oddly doesn’t sell medicine) is open daily 6 am–midnight. It sells sandwiches, fresh fruit, gourmet snacks, toiletries, gifts, and things like cameras, electric razors, and bouquets of fresh flowers (useful if you get an unexpected invitation to someone's home).
If you can avoid it, don't travel at all in Italy in mid-August, when much of the population is on the move, especially around Ferragosto, the August 15 national holiday, when cities such as Rome are deserted and many restaurants and shops are closed. If you've done the tourist circuit several times, though, you may enjoy a quieter, emptier version of the city during this time.
National holidays are New Year's Day (January 1); Epiphany (January 6); Easter Sunday and Monday; Liberation Day (April 25); Labor Day (May 1); Republic Day (June 2); Ferragosto (August 15); All Saint’s Day (November 1); Immaculate Conception (December 8); Christmas Day and the feast of Saint Stephen (December 25 and 26). Rome-specific holidays are Rome’s birthday (April 21) and St. Peter and Paul Day (June 29).