Ho ho ho
Christmas celebrations in Rome

Christmas or Natale - as used in Italian is one of the most beautiful and favorite times for a trip. The cities are decorated, the people are happy, the discount period in stores - what more do you need? Rome, as one of the most central stones in Christianity, is a wonderful place to wander in the days before Christmas, and during them. So that you know what to expect and why not, here is the complete guide to Rome at Christmas.

So when is Christmas celebrated in Rome?

The Christmas atmosphere reaches Rome already at the end of November, but the holiday season officially opens on the eighth of December. The city decorates, shows off, boasts. Colored lights decorate every street in the city, and it’s definitely a great experience. But like in most of the world, the holidays affect the opening hours of the places. The whole city enters a slow rhythm and routine disruptions from December 24th to January 6th.

On the eve of the holiday, on December 24th, most restaurants will offer a holiday dinner with a fixed and uniform menu, for which reservations must be made in advance. Sites and museums close earlier than usual, in order to allow employees to get to the holiday meal.

On the day of the holiday and the following day, December 25-26 – the Romans are off and celebrating with their families, and almost the entire city remains closed and silent. Sites, museums and writers are closed all day, and you will have a hard time finding an open restaurant. Public transportation is also significantly reduced.

On December 31, New Year’s Eve, the restaurants will offer special menus at slightly higher prices than usual. You must make a reservation in advance, there is no Roman staying at home this evening. If you like to go to bed early, forget it. Extensive fireworks shows, spontaneous or official, will accompany the night until the wee hours.

Rome weather in December

The eternal city is the perfect balance between the European cold and the Mediterranean heat, and as such – it allows quite comfortable weather even during the Christmas season. That doesn’t mean you can go out without a coat, but you won’t be slogging your way through the snow either. Cold, but not too cold. rain? Probably yes, occasionally. The weather in Rome in December is cold, it is pleasant to walk during the day and the degrees are around 10-15 during the day and at night they drop to around 5 degrees. So what do you pack for Rome in December? Warm clothes similar to winter in Israel using the peeling method.. A thin sweater with a jacket will be enough during the day, but you need a thick sweater and a warming coat for the nights.

Trees and decorations

You can find grandiose and public trees in Piazza San Pietro (near the Vatican), or in Piazza Venezia (city center). Also in the shop windows there will be a bunch of small trees in honor of the holiday, along with decorations and lights. All the main streets such as Via del Corso, Via Condotti, the Colosseum, Piazza di Spagna and more – will provide you with a proper Christmas experience with colored lights, signs and of course – shopping in the holiday spirit.

What do you eat in Rome at Christmas?

Panettone: the status symbol of the holiday – the panettone cake is a citrus-scented cake with raisins and goodies, tall and impressive and fills the writers and bakeries for Christmas. This is not exactly a cake that you make at home, because it requires long days of rising and finally it is even hung upside down for an additional 24 hours. It can be purchased literally anywhere, but the taste differences are significant between one place and another. If you are addicted to it, you can find it even in Israel in various delicatessens (and at completely exorbitant prices).

Pandoro: the nemesis of the panettone – the world is divided into two. Those who prefer panettone, and those who prefer pandoro. The difference between them? While the panettone perfumes the air with citrus fruit aromas, the pandoro contains vanilla flavors. Their shape is different – the panettone is round while the pandoro is star-shaped, and they came from different places around Italy. The panettone from Milan, and the pandoro from the city of Verona. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, if you taste Papandoro filled with Gendoia chocolate, the Christmas atmosphere will delight not only your eyes and heart – it will also delight your stomach.

Chestnuts: the fragrance that heralds the coming of the holiday – before the holiday, the city is filled with small stands selling chestnuts. Some are legal and some less so, but in all of them you will find a cone filled with freshly roasted chestnuts, warm and delicious with a wonderful smell. During the chestnut season, you can find various sweet and savory foods with chestnuts in Rome – chestnut gnocchi, pastas combined with chestnut sauce and of course sweet pastries with chestnut cream. Follow the scent.

Panettone – you can find them in every house in Rome at Christmas
Roasted chestnuts on the streets of Rome – follow the smell.

Christmas markets in Rome

You have to admit, Rome (and Italy in general) is not an outstanding player when it comes to Christmas markets. Every year there is an aspiration to open the permanent Christmas market in Piazza Navona, but unfortunately for everyone – not every year it comes to fruition, as has been the case in recent years due to the corona virus. In the years when the market opens, it is a nice experience, but don’t expect big Christmas markets like in Vienna or London.

Christmas celebrations in Rome

Nevertheless, Christmas, or Natella in Rome, is a religious Christian holiday and if you want to experience the deeper side of Christmas, you can enter any of the churches scattered around the city for midnight mass. The main mass takes place in the boutique, of course, but in order to reserve a place, tickets must be ordered well in advance. You can come without tickets and watch the crowds from a distance and, of course, the Pope.

In conclusion

There is no Christmas in Rome. The locals are happier than usual and this is undoubtedly the most beautiful time of the year. Yes, you should prepare in terms of dates, accommodation and food, and plan your schedule according to the changing opening hours of the sites and restaurants. It is important to know that this is a very busy period in terms of tourism, and it is desirable to wish the passers-by a buon natale (Merry Christmas), and that you too have a happy holiday!


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