5 Things to do in Rome This Christmas
By Emily Cooper
If you are planning to spend your Christmas holiday away from the routine, traveling around Europe, for example, you should really consider visiting Rome, the Eternal City. Read this short guide to discover the most exciting things you can do in Rome this Christmas. Remember that reaching Rome is easy, even if you are traveling aboard of a cruise ship: Civitavecchia transfers organized by companies like this one will drive you directly to the city centre in no time.
1. Saint Peter’s Square
On Christmas Eve, thousands of people from all around the world go to Saint Peter’s Square to take part in the midnight Mass that the Pope officiates from the Basilica. Many people also gather around the huge Christmas tree on the Christmas Day at noon for the Urbi et Orbi blessing yhe Pope gives from the famous window of his apartment. The atmosphere there is really special and spiritual – a memory you won’t forget so easily.
2. Christmas at the Auditorium
In the Auditorium, a multi-functional public music complex designed by Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2002, the celebrations for Christmas start on December 8 and lasts for over a month. The Auditorium becomes transformed and decorated with many sparkling lights for the festive season. It also hosts a special Christmas market and an ice skating rink, as well as a lot of dance recitals, chamber music concerts, and puppet shows for children.
3. Christmas Market in Piazza Navona
Christmas markets in Rome are famous and very typical during this festive season and the one in Piazza Navona is very big and characteristic. The various stalls in the most famous Baroque square in Rome sell Christmas treats, toys, hot food and drinks, handmade decorations and gifts for everyone. Do not miss the chance to meet Babbo Natale, the Italian Santa Claus that walks around the market to greet children and their parents, and to admire the beautiful nativity scene built in the square.
4. Nativity Scenes
Nativity scenes, called “presepe” in Italian, are very important part of the Christmas celebrations in Italy. Families usually build their own in their homes near the Christmas tree, and so do the most important and famous squares and churches of Rome. Besides the one in Piazza Navona, there is a Christmas crib in Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest permanent “presepe” in the city. It was carved in marble by Arnolfo di Cambio and was commissioned for the first Jubilee in 1300. A less religious and more traditional “presepe” is the one in the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano that includes also figurines of ordinary people.
5. Enjoy Christmas Food
Everyone loves Italian food and during Christmas season there are even more delicious sweets and typical dishes that every tourist should taste. Italians usually gather with the whole family on the Christmas Eve to eat a grand fish-base meal with no meat, as a form of respect and penitence, waiting for midnight when they Romecan finally indulge in panettone, pandoro and homemade torrone.