Rome: Culture and Traditions

Italian culture is steeped in family, food and the arts. In Rome, our traditions of the past influence our culture today – and that’s certainly part of what makes Rome such a special location. 

If you want to find out more about the culture and traditions of Rome, then obviously, I’d say that there is no better way than to come visit and experience it for yourself. In the meantime, let me give you a little taste of what you can expect: 


Food is a huge part of our culture in Rome. Our dishes have their roots in the past. Today, we still base our recipes on fresh vegetables; inexpensive cuts of meat, cheese – particularly ‘pecorino cheese’ and pasta, just like we have always done. Our desserts are usually reserved for celebrations like Christmas or Easter. 

Italy is obviously renowned for its food and there are large regional variations, but here in Rome, our food is unique, and it’s known for its simplicity, yet rich and flavoursome tastes. Here, as in the rest of Italy, we truly appreciate food. We take care in the preparations, and when we eat, we stop and appreciate it. Italians and Romans usually eat together with multiple generations of our family and friends. We’ll spend a great deal of time talking around the dinner table. It is a sacred time and family meals are large, lively affairs. 

However, if you try out one of our local restaurants, away from the main tourist areas and squares, I guarantee you’ll be able to experience some wonderful and wholesome Italian cooking, and it’ll be just like what we experience around the family dinner table. Check out our blog on eating like a local for more information. 

Food is central to our life and traditions in #Rome, whether it’s shopping for food or stopping and being present enough to appreciate a traditional ItalianMeal

Holidays and Celebrations

These play a significant role in our culture and traditions. Interestingly, Rome is much less crowded than it used to be during these holidays. Perhaps you’ll decide to time your visit to coincide with one of these occasions:  

The Carnival (Carnevale)

This is celebrated in major cities like Venice, Naples and of course Rome. Its origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages and it is one of the most popular traditions in Italy. Traditionally, in Rome, the Carnival would run for 8 days, ending on ‘Fat Tuesday’ – marking the beginning of Lent. Today, it’s similar – there are over a week of musicals, theatre shows, and concerts. As you walk though the city’s main streets you’ll no doubt get swept along with such and exhilarating atmosphere – full of music, masks and costumes. 

Christmas and Easter

In Rome, like the rest of Italy, most Christian holidays are key milestones in our cultural calendar. Food usually marks the change of seasons or the start of a holiday. Special dishes and desserts are reserved for these celebrations. Beef, Veal and Cotechino sausage, Panettone and Panforte are favourites at Christmas. At Easter, we love Minestra di Pasqua soup, Angello (Lamb) and Gubana Easter bread. Our Christian culture also plays a significant part in our holiday celebrations. There’s a procession – via Crucis – where a large crucifix is carried from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum on Good Friday. Many of us will go to St. Peter’s Square at Easter to receive a traditional blessing form the Pope. At Christmas some of us will attend midnight mass in our local churches – decorated with an elaborate nativity scene, or some locals will attend the huge midnight mass at the Vatican. 

Castel Sant Angelo, a site for celebration during the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul

National Holidays

There are many in Italy, and locally, Italian towns and cities have a tradition where they celebrate their patron saints. For us here in Rome we honor Saint Peter and Saint Paul on June 29 each year. It’s a public holiday for us and we’ll celebrate the saints at Mass in our churches with some special services – including at the Vatican. There’s also usually a wonderful firework display at Castel Sant’Angelo that’s become popular again. It is truly spectacular. 

Rome is Unique

Rome is special partly because of the way we’ve carried forward our traditions into our modern culture. Here you also have the best of both worlds, – a modern city that really celebrates the past. You can enjoy both sides to Rome when you visit – from acknowledging our ancient monuments like the Colosseum and the Pantheon to surveying Michelangelo’s masterpieces – all in the context of modern Rome. There’s so much history, culture and traditions to absorb. 

Please do get in contact with us about your trip to Rome – we’d love to help show you around. Our Gray Line I love Rome website is full details on how we can help you explore our city, and share its beauty with you.  We’ll show you the best of our cuisine with our food tours and we’ll help you explore how the past blends with the present day Rome by touring Ancient Roman sites with us