Beginning in the Late Middle Ages in European areas primarily speaking German and what was once the Holy Roman Empire. Nowadays, you won’t find many Christmas markets in Rome as elaborate as the ones in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France, but there are still many compelling reasons to visit the famed Italian capital during Christmas time.
Rome is one of the most incredible cities in the world. In my opinion, coming to Rome during the winter means less crowds compared to summer. Of all the cities I have been to in the world, nothing is comparable to the Christmas programming that the “Ancient City” offers. Around nearly every corner you can find festive themed pop-up markets, Christmas villages, ice skating rinks, and shop after shop decorated in lights and Christmas theme.
For 2022 Christmas season you can find Mercatini di Natale at the following locations:
• Piazza Navona – The most famous market in Rome. You’ll find local sellers, toys, street musicians and artists, several nativity scenes and amusement rides. All of this is in front of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. The Christmas market’s stalls at Piazza Navona are open from the 8th of December until the 6th of January. During the week you can shop here from 10 am until 1am, on the weekends the market is open until 2 am.
• Piazza Mazzini – Famous for its stalls selling Italian candy, toys and typical Christmas decoration and Christmas lights. The Christmas market opens on the 8th of December and ends with Christmas Eve, the 24th of December.
• Auditorium Parco Della Musica – Here you will find fair trade products and products of local artists. You can also go ice skating. Next to the ice rink you can find a nice bar. More food stands and shops are inside the gallery of the Auditorium. The Auditorium is some kind of concert hall with several events taking place throughout the year. Opening December 3rd until January 8th.
• Cinecittà World – From November 12th to January 8th the main street of the Christmas Village of Cinecittà World will be decorated with the wooden houses of the Christmas Market where artisans, shows, music and designer lights will be the protagonists of the most beautiful time of the year.
For Christmas in Rome as elsewhere in Italy, it is tradition to decorate the Christmas tree with the whole family. The day which is dedicated to decorate the Christmas tree is the 8th of December. On the 8th of December, Christmas season officially starts! On this day the streets in Rome are being decorated, the first Christmas trees will be put up in front of monuments and attractions and the first hot wines will be available on Christmas markets.
Contrary to popular belief, advent wreaths, calendars and counting the Sundays of Advent is not common in Rome during Christmas. Neither do the Romans know about Saint Nicholas (or as he is referred to, Babbo Natale) who visits children in other European countries on the 6th of December. Instead, they’ll have a different visitor on the 6th of January, the witch Befana. This is why children in Italy used to receive their Christmas gifts on the 6th of January, and not, as common in other European countries, on Christmas Eve or the 25th of December. This is also the reason why you can find witches on Christmas markets. Babbo Natale doesn’t look back on a long tradition in Italy.
Unfortunately, another tradition that has almost been lost over the years is installing the crib and adding the statuette of baby Jesus after midnight on the 24th of December. Romans love to visit the many nativity scenes scattered throughout the city. An absolute must is a visit to the International Exhibition ‘100 Presepi’ in Rome. Since 1976, hundreds of cribs created by international artists from all over the world, have been hosted here. 2018 was the first year in which the exhibition took place in Via di Conciliazione 5 near the Vatican. This exhibition is open from the 8th of December until the 8th of January from 10 am until 8 pm. Admission is free.
Please share with us your pictures and experiences, we want to hear all about your Christmas experience in Rome!
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