7 can’t-miss things to do that capture Rome at its Christmas best

Heading for Rome to spend Christmas is always a good idea. Get ready for the seven can’t-miss things to do this Christmas in Rome that capture Rome at its Christmas best.

1. Christmas at the Vatican with new Pope Francis may hold the possibility of a few surprises.
According to the liturgical schedule most of the liturgical ceremonies of the Christmas season are done in the usual way. Pope Francis will begin the celebration of Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 PM on December 24. At noon on Christmas Day the Holy Father will deliver the customary address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and his blessing “urbi et orbi”. Expectations are that Pope Francis might add some of his own concerns, watch out for specifics, about the state of the world from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. Don’t forget to take a look at the Nativity scene created by artisans from Naples, Italy following this year’s theme “Francis 1223-Francis 2013”, referring to St. Francis of Assisi


On December, 31 during Vespers the Pope will lead the “Te Deum” for the year that is ending. Pope Francis will continue with the a New Year ceremony at 10 AM in St. Peter’s Basilica on January, 1 celebrating Mass and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and also the 47th World Day of Peace.

The Christmas season ends on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany with Mass at 10 AM in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Tickets to mass are always free. The best way to get your ticket for the papal Christmas Masses is to send a fax from your country directly to the Vatican between 6 to 2 months in advance, but there is no one stopping you to try later. Places will only be guaranteed according your arrival time on your ticket and full is full even with a ticket, do come early enough. Tickets can be collected 5-4 days before the event from 8 AM till 6 or 7 PM at the Prefettura Vaticana located just after the bronze doors in St. Peter’s Basilica.


2. In for an evening of Burlesque and swing?
The eclectic Mica club organises a Saturday Christmas Show on December 21, 2013 featuring Slick Steve and the Gangsters, an explosive quartet with a real contamination of vintage sounds, from Swing to Rock’n’Roll, all seasoned with circus performances, from magic to juggling and Christmas fun. Aperitivo hour is from 19 -22:30 hrs, the show starts at 23:00 hrs.

Micca club
Via degli Avignonesi 73 (Piazza Barberini)


3. A classical kickstarter for Christmas invented by the master of melody, Franz Schubert, himself.
When Franz Schubert’s friends met at his Vienna apartment to play and sing his music, they called the evening a “Schubertiade”. Schubertiades were generally informal, unadvertised gatherings, held at private homes and that’s exactly what Rome’s Circle of Artists took upon them to organise: an informal series of concerts, held at a private home, where music and art lovers will enjoy wonderful music and a familiar ambience. The concerts (tickets include dinner)take place in a private house in Sant’Angelo Romano, about 15 km from Rome. Don’t worry about the transportation the organizer will pick you up at Guidonia station. For tickets go to Classictic

Saturday 21.12.2013 20:30 hrs
Saturday 28.12.2013 20:30 hrs
Saturday 04.01.2014 20:30 hrs.

piazza navona

4. The holiday season in Rome means traditional celebrations and Christmas Markets.
Christmas Markets are popular in Rome; the most famous is the one on Piazza Navona, Rome’s famous Baroque square. Open for six weeks each year until the 6th of January. Rome’s most festive Christmas market offers a vast array of artisanal and handcrafted goods and some gastronomic delights like the porchetta sandwiches, ciambelle maxi and roasted chestnuts, besides crepes with Nutella and cotton candy. The fair ends on January, 6 with a life appearance of “La Befana”, the ugly “witch” and an Italian tradition, who delivers gifts to children.

An all together different market is Mostramercato Caravanserraglio modelled after the meaning of the word “Caravanserai” , a gathering place along the old trade routes in Iran, where animals, vehicles, goods and people remained for a short stop generally causing a cheerful chaos. Mostramercato Caravanserraglio is meant to be a place of discovery where artists, designers and craftsmen show their latest creations to the public. You can find great gifts: original fashion clothing, jewellery, innovative fashion accessories , scarves, unique handmade objects and furnishings , lamps, toys, handmade bags , sweets and much more.


5. In bright light, Herb Ritts’ new photo exhibition
And, while you are at Auditorium Parco della Musica don’t forget to visit the exhibition “In bright light, photographs by Herb Ritts” a great retrospective of the images of Herb Ritts, from the most famous ones, with the likes of Madonna and Liz Taylor, to other, unpublished ones, sourced from the Herb Ritts Foundation in Los Angeles.

Music video by Claudio Baglioni performing Un piccolo Natale in più (Have yourself a merry little Christmas), much to sweet for my taste, but fits in with the Roman Christmas spirit.

6. After the success of the two previous concerts, singer Claudio Baglioni returns to Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica on Wednesday December, 25.
In third edition of what is already a classic of Italian music, Claudio Baglioni wants to show us a new way of understanding the word “concert”. That he has lots of friends to play with certainly helps, as well as the Italian public who will sing along with most songs. He will use his new album ‘ConVoi’, his first solo album since 2003, to take us back to where it all began 45 years ago; the hotel in Rome where he sang for the first time the A-side of his first 45 record, ‘Mrs. Lia’.

Auditorium Parco della Musica
Viale Pietro de Coubertin (near the Palazzetto dello Sport)


7. The Christmas season of good food.
The day of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December, 8, marks the start of a period of frantic baking activity. Rome shares many festive culinary traditions with the rest of Italy eating Pandoro (tall, star-shaped sweet bread from Verona) and Panettone (a sweet bread originally from Milan without or with dried fruit or chocolate), but also has some festive dishes of her own, such as Pangiallo, a dense, glazed dome of spiced raisins, nuts and candied peel, eaten in thin slices, and Panpepato, a dense gingerbread cake similar to panforte. Mostaccioli Romani, little spiced nut pastries, sometimes dipped in chocolate, are another favourite. You can get these treats at markets and bakeries across the city, though we suggest to go to Barberini (Testaccio), Colapicchioni bakery (Prati), Valzani ( Trastevere), Andreotti and Eataly (Ostiense), Cristalli di Zucchero (near Circus Maximus and the Colosseum) and Roscioli (historical center).

By the time Christmas arrives, roasted chestnut vendors can be found on every street corner. Nothing smells as much like Christmas in Rome as those fat, black roasted chestnuts. When Christmas Eve’s knocks on the door Rome continues its season of good food with the feast of the 7 fishes. Any fish works, but calamari, baccala (codfish), oysters, scallops, whiting, clams, shrimp and eel are traditional favourites. Also dishes with fish like spaghetti with anchovies are on the menu.

If you want to eat out on Christmas Eve you can opt to go to Ristorante San Lorenzo (Via dei Chiavari), L’Angoletto (Piazza Rondarini 51), Pipero al Rex (Via Torino 149) or Giuda ballerino (Largo Appio Claudio 344), All’Oro (Via del Vantaggio 14) and Flavio al Velavevodetto (Via di Monte Testaccio 97 )on Christmas day. Prices can differ considerably, check before you book. For lunch on Christmas day Cesare al Casaletto (Via del Casaletto 45) and Roscioli (Via dei Giubbonari 21) are good options.

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