While it may not snow in Rome, there is still something magical about this beautiful city during the festive season and it has everything to do with the glorious light displays and whimsical Christmas markets. This gorgeous historical city completely transforms over the festive season, so if you’re lucky enough to be spending Christmas in the Eternal City, make sure you don’t miss these amazing experiences.
During the summertime, Piazza Navona is filled with tourists wandering through the square sporting delicious gelatos or sitting at one of the many luxurious cafes sipping on cappuccinos, but at Christmastime everything changes. Christmas market stalls line the perimeters and a brightly lit merry-go-round sets up in the centre while eager visitors wander around snacking on seasonal treats and purchasing handcrafted Italian Christmas decorations to a soundtrack of beautiful Christmas carols. It’s one to add to your list if you’re spending Christmas in Rome this year.
Walk anywhere around the centre of Rome and you’ll be inundated by glorious displays of glittering Christmas lights. The most spectacular light displays centre around the main piazza in the city centre, Piazza Venezia, and travel down Via del Corso and on to the luxurious street of Via dei Condotti. Luxury stores line this street and each of them put on their own festive light extravaganzas. After wandering down these streets, you can make your way to Piazza Di Spagna, take a seat on the steps and enjoy an incredible view of a glowing Rome.
The tall Christmas trees that are set up around city centres are always a sight to be marvelled at – but there is something especially impressive about seeing these stunning trees sitting in incredible settings – like beside the Colosseum, which was constructed in 70 AD century, or in front of the formidable Palazzo Venezia in Piazza Venezia. Even Vatican City has its own gorgeous Christmas tree tradition. In 1982 the first tree came from Italy but since then Christmas Trees have been offered to the Pope each year, with the Vatican accepting a tree donated by a different European country or region to place in Saint Peter's Square. These enormous trees add a festive touch to some of the oldest and most impressive monuments that can be found in Rome.
Rome is a city filled with ornate churches, so it goes without saying that if you’re in Rome during the festive season you’ll see some of the most beautiful nativity scenes around. One of the most well-known nativity displays is at the Santa Maria Maggiore church. This nativity is said to be the oldest permanent nativity scene and was carved in marble by Arnolfo di Cambio during the late 13th century. Although it was originally a mainstay of the church itself, it is now displayed in the museum of Santa Maria Maggiore - it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in this incredible city at Christmastime.
Ice Skating Rinks
While snow is very rare in Rome (unlike a New York Christmas, or Christmas in London), it does become increasingly cold as Christmas edges ever-closer and to celebrate the cooler season, there are some lovely spots where visitors can enjoy ice skating. While there are a few different spots around Rome for ice skating, the most conveniently located one is at the Castel Sant’Angelo right near the Tiber River. Enjoy some ice skating and crisp roasted chestnuts with the beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo looming in the background.
Menorah in Piazza Barberini
Christmas is celebrated all over Rome but the city also has a large Jewish population so Hanukkah celebrations also occur around the city. One of the most recognisable sights is the large Menorah that is erected in Piazza Barberini. One candle is lit each evening during the season of Hanukkah. Centrally located, you can easily visit this beautiful sight as you wander through the city enjoying the twinkling lights.
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