Were you planning to be in Rome around the time of Christmas? Tis the season to be jolly, so be sure to check out these ten recommendations. This was a thought list to write because there are many amazing things to see and do in Rome around this time of year. However, here at the Schmidt Christmas Market, we decided to boil everything down to just ten of the best things to do in Rome. Without further ado, let's begin!
It's no wonder that we'd recommend a Christmas market, but hear us out. Although Italy doesn't quite have the same concept as Christmas as the U.S., Rome nonetheless puts on a fantastic display. Perhaps the most visited and widely regarded market resides in the famous Piazza Navona. There are also other options like the ones in the Campo de' Fiori, which are also worth visiting.
The Christmas market is held in Piazza Navona square was built in the 1st century under orders of Emperor Domitian. The original purpose was a hippodrome, which would also serve as a place to reenact naval battles. The area would be flooded, and miniature versions of warships would be used. This market hosts a wide range of vendors, from street performers to artists, musicians, and stalls. So make sure to stop by and compare it to the Schmidt Christmas Market.
Christmas Trees Galore
Although Rome's concept of Christmas is not quite the same as the American version, Rome does know how to put on a great Christmas tree show. All around Rome you will find enormous and well light Christmas trees. Although there is plenty of competition, some of the best trees can be found around the Coliseum in Piazza Venezia. Go to the top of the Spanish steps and bask in the Christmas décor. The backdrop of the ancient Roman coliseum also makes for interesting photos and stories!
A short ten-minute walk will also take you to the main boulevard to arrive back to Piazza Venezia. This Christmas tree comes with a splendid nativity scene along with a massively tall tree. What makes this even better is if you continue walking down Via del Corso, you will shortly reach the area around the Spanish Steps. This area has yet another nativity scene (perhaps a better one) and a large well-light Christmas tree. This area also generally has lots of people leisurely walking around shopping for Christmas decor and presents.
Experience Christmas Culture in Rome
Rome also has a very impressive list of experiences you can partake in. From live musicals to opera's, plays and more, there's no shortage of Christmas themed events. Here are just a few of those impressive spectacles we love.
The Nutcracker at the Teatro dell’Opera
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and other artists at the Chiesa di Ponte Sant’Angeloa around 7 PM.
Handel, Beethoven, and Bruckner at Parco della Muscia or sometimes the Sala Santa Cecilia. Disney on Ice: Frozen also at the Parco della Musicia. Christmas concert as the Sala Baldini around 5:15 PM
Again, these are just a few of the options you have to enjoy Rome's Christmas culture. You could probably even attend several of the events since some smart early in the evening while others start later.
Go Ice Skating
This wouldn't be a Christmas blog without ice skating! Rome offers some great ice skating options. Consider walking over to the ice skating rank at Castel Sant'Angelo; if you're not around there, then no worries because Rome has plenty of other options as well! You could also try the popular ranks around Re di Roma, Tor di Quinto, or Villa Giordani.
Christmas Sweets and Treats
Rome also has some great food options, which are Christmas themed. Italian food is also famously delicious, so you'll have plenty to enjoy! We recommend venturing over to a store called Eataly near Piramide in the Testaccio area of Rome. The Eataly store features a large indoor market stocked full of traditional foods and treats centered around Italian cuisine. You'll probably also come across stacked boxes of cake called Panettone. This is a special "Christmas only" sweet bread that melts in your mouth when you eat it. It's more like someone figured out how to cross bread with candy floss.
Manger of Bethlehem
As an ode to the past, Rome still practices a special event giving homage to Christmas's true meaning. In Rome, you can find the re-creation of the Manger of Bethlehem scene, a Christian feast is put on, which features the concept of Jesus coming to humanity in the form of a helpless baby boy. Since Bethlehem meant "bread," a feast is put on to remember Jesus and eat the "body of Christ" as thanks.
Speaking of Christian traditions, Rome has plenty of them! You could also attend a midnight mass. In fact, many Romans suggest that Christmas only starts with midnight mass. To participate, walk over to the Basilica of St. Peter, where the Pope and others celebrate. Despite the "midnight" part of the name, the church has found it more practical to hold the celebration earlier in the evening. This is mostly for families and the elderly. Either way, it's quite the spectacle.
Urbi et Orbe
Thie address the Pope gives to the numerous followers of Catholicism both in the Vatican City and to the world. Urbi et Orbe means "to the city and to the world," the city referring to Vatican City. During this address, the Pope also does Christmas greetings and talks about the meaning of Christmas.
Expat Christmas Parties
Rome also hosts a series of Christmas themed parties specifically for ex-pats. These parties are generally done through ex-pat communities and are cheap or sometimes free to attend. In some cases, you just need to bring food, and you're in! The nice thing about these parties is you can enjoy Rome during Christmas with people from your country yet still learn about and enjoy Christmas in Rome.
Christmas in Rome Tour
Finally, Rome offers many different tour options for Christmas parties. These tours generally take you to some of the places we've mentioned earlier. They also stop off at markets, eateries, and more to show you what Rome has to offer during the Christmas season.
That concludes our list of things to do in Rome for Christmas. If you liked this post, then consider following our Christmas blog for more. Or check out the Schmidt Christmas market for more Christmas decor.