Christmas in Rome: Some Serious Lights

Christmas lights in Rome

This year, Rome is celebrating Christmas with some of the glitteriest, prettiest lights I've seen. Ever. And since that includes the decorations that glitter-bomb American shopping malls and cul-de-sac neighborhoods every year, that's saying quite a bit.

Here, just a few twinkly tastes of the most Christmas-sy corners of Rome. Photos—and even a couple of short videos—to follow.

Prepare to be dazzled.

Christmas tree and decorations at Piazza Venezia, Rome    Piazza Venezia


Rome Christmas lightsVia dei Coronari

Christmas lights in RomePiazza San Lorenzo in Lucina

 

Christmas parade at Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina

Christmas tree at the Colosseum, RomeColosseum Christmas tree

Lights for Christmas in RomePiazza Sant'Eustachio

Christmas lights in RomeNear Piazza Navona

Presepio or nativity scene in RomePresepio at the Church of Sant'Eustachio

Christmas in RomeVia dei Baullari, toward Campo dei Fiori

Christmas lights in Monti, RomeVia Urbana in Monti

Piazza Venezia during Christmas in RomePiazza Venezia, looking toward the Vittorio Emanuele monument

Via del Corso, with Christmas lights in RomeLooking up Via del Corso from Piazza Venezia

Christmas lights in Rome for the holidaysVia dei Condotti

Spanish Steps decorated for Christmas in RomeNear the Spanish Steps

Christmas decorations in RomeThe Fendi store on Via del Corso

 

Video of the lights at the Fendi store and Via del Corso

Via dei Coronari with Christmas lights in RomeVia dei Coronari

Via dei Condotti on Christmas in RomeVia dei Condotti, looking toward the Spanish Steps


Christmas lights in RomeVia dei Condotti



Christmas-lights-for-web-1
Via del Corso

Church of Sant'Eustachio at ChristmasPiazza Sant'Eustachio, with the Church of Sant'Eustachio in the background

Via Tomacelli at ChristmasVia Tomacelli

Want to know more about Christmas in Rome? Make sure to check out my 5-minute video on what you need to know, below!

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10 Things to Do in Rome for Christmas (Updated for 2016!)

If you’re in Rome for Christmas, you’re in luck! As always, there are absolutely tons of ways to get into the holiday spirit.

Here, the best of what to do.

1. See the Pope. Over the Christmas season, you’ve got lots of opportunities, from midnight mass (although getting tickets can be tricky) to “Urbi et Orbi” on Christmas Day (no tickets needed). Here’s more on how exactly to see the Pope throughout December and January (updated for 2016!).

Pope during Christmas season in Rome

2. Celebrate Christmas at the Auditorium. Every year, Rome’s Auditorium hosts a number of Christmas-themed events (link in Italian), running through December and early January. Goings-on include a Christmas fair, ice-skating rink, and lots of concerts, from Christmas Italian music to gospel.

3. Head to a Christmas market. They pop up all over Rome this time of year, the most famous being, of course, that in Piazza Navona (both at top and below). Here’s a list of other Christmas markets in Rome (updated for 2016!).

What to do over christmas in Rome

4. Worship—in English. The American Catholic church of Santa Susanna is usually the go-to for English Mass. But the church itself is closed for the moment for renovations. In its stead, if you’re in Rome for Christmas, there are a variety of other Catholic churches host services in English throughout the holiday season (of these, my top pick would be the stunning Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri—it’s an ancient Roman bath turned church by Michelanglo, no big deal).

For non-Catholics, the Anglican Church of All Saints’ Church holds holiday services, including the Service of Nine Lessons with Carols, and the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of Scotland has services throughout the Christmas season. Other churches with non-Catholic services in English during Christmas include the American Episcopal Church of St. Paul’s Within the Walls, the Methodist Church at Ponte Sant’Angelo, and the non-denominational Cavalry Chapel.

5. Go ice-skating. The Auditorium’s not the only place you can slip-and-slide. You also can skate underneath the iconic silhouette of Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo. Click here for more information on the Castel Sant’Angelo rink. Other skating rinks in Rome include those at Re di Roma, Tor di Quinto, and Villa Gordiani.

6. Delve into the tradition of Italian nativity scenes. As well as Christmas cribs popping up in churches all over town, Rome boasts both a museum of more than 3,000 of them and, over Christmas, an exhibition of 200 presepi from artists across the globe (now in its 41st year). Here’s my New York Times piece on where to find presepi in Rome.

Christmas lights in Rome

7. Check out the Christmas lights. Decorations are getting more ambitious every year, with gorgeous twinklings (and light projections, and jumbo screens) lighting up not only the heart of Rome’s centro storico, but even Termini, EUR, and the Fiumicino airport. Don’t believe me? Check out my photo post of the prettiest Christmas lights and decorations in Rome!

8. Hear some holiday music. The internationally-renowned academy of Santa Cecilia hosts several Christmas choral concerts in December: on Saturday December 17 at 11:30am, Dec. 20 at 7:30pm and Dec. 21 at 8:30pm. 

Pandoro at Christmas in Rome

9. Enjoy delicious Christmas sweets. Bakeries are brimming over with yummy holiday offerings like panettone, torrone and pandoro (above). If you’re in Rome for Christmas, make sure to taste the goods. It’s the one time of year that even Italians  over-indulge in the sweet stuff!

10. Give back. The Emergency Christmas Market now takes place right in the heart of the center on Via IV Novembre 157B (off Magnanapoli), near Piazza Venezia and the Roman forum. It’s a Christmas market with a twist—proceeds from the goods, which include everything from Nepalese hats to Cambodian silks to Italian panettone, go to charity. In 2016, it’s running from 1 to 24 December on Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm and Mondays from 12pm to 8pm (early closure at 2pm on Christmas Eve).

Also: the 5 most overrated things to do in Rome, how to start planning your trip to Rome, and 11 etiquette mistakes not to make eating in Italy.

If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.

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