No place in the world knows how to celebrate the advent and coming of Jesus as in the Vatican State!
In what is universally known as the smallest state in the world, the Christmas Festivities begin on December 08, with the unveiling of the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, and end on January 6 with Epiphany.
Gray Line I Love Rome gives you the chance to secure a seat to attend one of the world's most exclusive events: the Midnight Mass, or Angel’s Mass, held by Pope Francis on Dec. 24 at 7:30 pm. Although tickets for the celebrations at the Vatican are free, it is allowed to reserve them well in advance and for small groups only; the Vatican requires at least 2 months' notice and a formal request, but only between 4-5 days before the mass, by going in person to the Vatican Prefecture offices, would you know for sure if your request has been granted or if availability has ended.
What’s more is that traffic in the city of Rome, which is generally heavy but sluggish during the holidays, may also complicate travelling between your hotel and the Basilica; with us, you can forget about any bureaucratic red tape, as well as traffic!
We will pick you up at your hotel, in the city center, to take you to the meeting point from which a wonderful panoramic bus tour of the Eternal City will depart. Join the rest of the group and get on board one our cozy coaches, to enjoy a sightseeing panoramic tour together with one of our professional local tour guides. You will have the chance to admire all the iconic spots, the attractions and the landmarks in a relaxed pace, getting all the most important information about their historical and cultural significance. We will drive past Villa Borghese, a wonderful public garden also famous for the presence of the Galleria Borghese art museum (available on Friday morning in English: ask our Reservations team and get your tickets for the guided tour now!), to then run the iconic Via Veneto: during the 60’s, the street was made immortal by a Federico Fellini movie – La Dolce Vita – starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.
We will then proceed along the Lungotevere (literally, Tiber embankment), to admire Castel Sant’Angelo and hear about its long history and importance.
At the end of the bus route, you will get to the Vatican area with your eyes still brimming with history, traditions, lights and colour, but there will still be another treat in store for you: a divine aperitif just near St Peter’s!
The gourmet side of Italian Christmas will certainly get the better of your palate! During your holidays in the Eternal City, be sure to taste as many savoury treats as possible: tortellini, bollito (stew), lasagne, or frittelle, typical fried dough filled with baccalà or vegetables. Not to mention the sweets: panettone, pandoro, struffoli, panforte, torrone…the list goes on until Epiphany!
Relax, take a seat, and begin your journey through the Italian Christmas flavours.
After this tasty treat, get your camera or smartphone ready for the moment you walk into St. Peter's Square: it is happening at last!
Fill your gallery with memorable shots of the wonderful square, with its Christmas decorations irradiating and brightening your soul.
The magnificent decked-up Christmas tree and the splendid Nativity Scene will take your breath away: do you know that these are donated to the Vatican every year from a different country in the spirit of joyful and united Christmas? The unveiling of the Christmas tree represents the season’s kick-off on December 8th and is truly one-of-a-lifetime experience.
The tradition of the tree being decorated in the square dates back to Pope John Paul II, in 1982, who decided to have it standing right at the centre of the square to symbolize that Christ is evergreen. The Nativity Scene, that stages the birth of Jesus featuring all the main characters including the Three Kings, also a gift from a foreign country, is often made with typical local and sustainable materials!
Your guide will lead you inside the very own St Peter’s Basilica to take your seat and attend the world-famous Midnight Mass, that despite its name, will actually take place at 7:30 pm, in order to give you plenty of time to get back to your hotel afterwards and have dinner in the city. The tradition of the evening Christmas mass is said to date back to year 430 with Pope Sixtus III, who decided to have the first Mass in St Mary Major Basilica, in Rome.
The original Eve Mass actually dates back to the IV century, in Jerusalem, with a woman named Egeria and today it is celebrated in all the major basilicas all over the world and Europe: in France, for instance, at Notre Dame or St Germain des Prés, and in London, at Westminster and St Paul. People gather to recall the announcement of the Angel to the Shepherds, proclaiming the birth of baby Jesus: this is why this pivotal event for the Christendom is also known as Angel’s Mass.
In some areas of the world, the event is also known as the Rooster’s Mass, as it is believed that a rooster was the first animal to announce and testify the birth of Jesus at midnight, on December 25th and up to the XX century, the shepherds were the first men to be allowed inside the churches to bring a real rooster: it was said that if the rooster crowed at midnight, it would be a symbol of good luck for the following year's harvest.
Take this unique chance to take part in one of the most globally watched events and exchange messages of peace, unity and brotherhood, surrounded by a congregation of 15.000 people; if you plan to stop by the Vatican Museums during your stay, just visit our website and reserve your ticket for a guided tour with Gray Line I Love Rome!
- Rome centre panoramic bus tour
- Aperitif-style meal
- St Peter's Square
- Christmas Midnight Mass
- St. Peter’s Basilica