Why You Should Visit Rome at Christmas

Natale is a very important holiday for the whole of Italy, including Rome. In the Eternal City, the celebration is steeped in traditions that centre on family, food, faith and festivities. So, as you can imagine, it’s a wonderful time to take a vacation in Rome. Read on to find out exactly why you should visit Rome at Christmas time: 

Christmas Preparations in Rome Begin on December 8th

A national holiday to mark the Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Families will attend church, and then begin to put up their Christmas decorations in their homes. 

Rome is beautifully decorated at Christmas. Trees adorn the main areas – including here at the monument of Vittorio Emanuele II.

Christmas in Rome

From December 8th, you’ll be able to enjoy Rome’s Christmas market stalls where you can pick up beautiful artisan crafted gifts. A walk through the markets will certainly get you into the Christmas spirit as the smell of the delectable food, and sounds of bustle and festive music signal that a special time of year is near. There’s also usually a skating rink set up near Castel Sant Angelo. Beautiful carpets of exquisite fairy lights will twinkle across Rome’s lovely old cobbled streets. There will be huge Christmas trees at the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and at the Vatican, to name a few. Rome’s most famous shopping location – Via dei Condotti is particularly beautiful at this time of year, too.  The whole city is very atmospheric. 

The iconic Colosseum of Rome, accompanied by its wonderful Christmas Tree

Churches in Rome at Christmas

Special services – usually a midnight mass – will be held on Christmas Eve, to welcome in Christmas Day. The largest service is at the Vatican in Rome – held inside St. Peter’s Basilica, and shown on screens outside to a large crowd that’s assembled on St Peter’s Square. On Christmas Day itself, the Pope traditionally shares his Christmas message and blessing from the balcony above the square, which is then transmitted to Roman Catholics around the world. Attending a service here is always profound and moving – after the lights, shops and markets, you are reminded what this special time of year is all about. 

St Peter’s Cathedral – a white Christmas in the Vatican. 

Throughout December, many churches host some absorbing live music performances. You’ll find anything from world-class piano and organ recitals to wonderful children’s choirs singing all across the city. 

Food in Rome at Christmas

Special dishes and desserts are enjoyed at this time of year. You’ll find wonderfully rich meals based on beef and veal, as well as desserts like Panettone and Panforte on the menu. Rome’s bakeries will be brimming with these sweet treats on the run up to Christmas, too.  When it comes to eating over Christmas itself, remember that some restaurants and bars will close on Christmas Day – all that means is that you just need to plan where you will eat in advance and book ahead. 

What’s special about visiting Rome at Christmas-time is the fact that it is so very different to the experience one has of Rome at other times of the year. There are fewer tourists here in winter, so at Christmas, Rome is at its most Roman – and you’ll see the city in a completely different light. If you are planning to visit Rome at Christmas, then please do head over to the Gray Line I love Rome website for information on how we can help you explore our city. We will this year be offering a Christmas Eve tour of Rome and access to Midnight Mass at the Vatican, as well as a special Christmas Day tour of Rome – which takes in the Papal Blessing at St. Peter’s Basilica.  We would be delighted if you were to join us at this most special time of year.