Ice skating in December at the Christmas market in the Auditorium Parco della Musica or eating traditional Italian Christmas sweets at Mercatino di Natale di Roma Piazza Caprera 2021.
Rome’s Christmas markets are a joy to behold and the perfect day out for families and friends.
This year’s Christmas market in Rome, with it’s northern tradition look, you will see the presence of some Nordic chalets type stands. Piazza Caprera, is one of the most beautiful Umbertine squares in Rome, with it’s enchanted scenery and the magical atmosphere of Christmas. In the evening, the slightly dim lights illuminates the stands.
Let’s ring in the festive season with a visit to the Natale Auditorium. This small but charming Christmas market has over 30 stalls featuring food from various Italian regions, artisan works and hand-crafted gifts. However, the unmissable highlight of this market is without a doubt the ice rink. A perfect day out for some Christmas shopping and a spin on the ice.
Dates: 4 th of December – 6 th of January 2022
Where: Viale Pietro De Coubertin, 30 (Parioli)
Further information: Visit website
Every year in December, the Vintage market (known as V-market) turns festive. Christmas Land has truly earned its name with over 200 exhibitors spread out over a space of 6000 square meters. This market has something for everyone: a children’s area (by Tauccine’s bookshop), Buba’s vintage for those who want to go vintage shopping, a farmer’s market with a 0 km policy for foodies and much more.
Entry fee: 3€ (free for children up to 12 years)
Dates: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 December
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
WHERE: Former Atac Depot in Piazza Ragusa, entrance via Tuscolana 179
Further information: vintage market roma
This Christmas village in Cinecittà World is a perfect day out for families. The village opens at 11am with a Christmas show featuring tunes such as Jingle Bells and Christmas carols. Inside the village are many different attractions for the whole family, such as Christmas face painting for the children, a virtual rollercoaster that allows guests to ride on Santa's sleigh to deliver gifts to children all over the world and the ice kingdom, the only indoor snow park in Italy.
From the afternoon until the evening, the most beautiful Christmas film scenes will be projected on a wall of water in the Piazza del Parco. Lastly, at 5pm in theatre one a live musical show will be held to celebrate the most magical time of the year with the whole cast of singers and dancers in the park.
Dates: From the 6 th of November onwards
Opening hours: 11am to 7pm (recommended to arrive before 11am
This wonderful Christmas market is known for its great selection of traditional Italian Christmas sweets. Piazza Caprera is one of the most beautiful Umbertine squares in Rome with its enchanted scenery and the magical atmosphere of the Christmas market. This year’s market will feature some Nordic chalet type stalls.
What would Christmas be without The Nutcracker at the Teatro dell ‘opera in Rome.
A sparkling festive treat for the whole family, the famous ballet composed by Tchaikovsky tells the story of Clara, who is gifted an enchanted nutcracker doll. At the stroke of midnight, a magical adventure awaits Clara and her nutcracker.
Starting with the first performance on the 19th of December and running until the 2nd of January 2022, this is an unmissable ballet for the whole family (and a good introduction for young children to the magic of ballet) in the beautiful Teatro Constanci in Rome.
Tickets (17€ – 75€) can be bought online, on the phone or at the ticket office at the Teatro dell ‘opera.
More information on where to buy the tickets at: Operaroma.it
Every year since 1982 a Christmas tree is decorated (with 600 wooden decorations, handcrafted by Andalo artisans and low energy consumption lighting) and erected on St. Peter’s Square, as part of the Christmas festivities.
The tree itself is donated from all over Europe, with the first one in 1982 hailing from the Alban Hills in Italy, and according to the Vatican is sourced with sustainability in mind.
Each year a lighting of the Christmas scene takes place in St. Peter’s Square, where the tree and the nativity scene are lit. This years nativity scene, for the first time, comes from the Andes and will feature traditional Chopcca costumes, alpacas, vicunas and the Andean condor, Peru’s national symbol.
This year’s ceremony will take place on December 10th and start at 5pm in the evening. It is recommended to turn up at least an hour early to secure a good spot to watch the lighting of the Christmas scene.
The Christmas mass in the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica is the most watched Christmas mass around the world and it is truly a spectacle to behold.
Starting at 9.30pm on the 24th of December and not as the name implies at midnight, it is a free event for the lucky ones, who are able to get a ticket.
How can you get a ticket?
1. Fill out this form. 2. Send it via fax to the following number: +39 06 698 85863
(The Vatican recommends to request the tickets around two to six months in advance. Those who request less than 6 tickets have a higher chance of approval of their request. Those who need more than 6 tickets, it would be best that you send a letter from your parish or some authority of the church along with the request.)
2. Head to the Preffetura Office 3-5 days before the mass, between 8 AM to 6 PM, to know the status of your ticket. There you will either receive the tickets or a letter stating that there is no availability.
2. Head to the Preffetura Office 3-5 days before the mass, between 8 AM to 6 PM, to know the status of your ticket. There you will either receive the tickets or a letter stating that there is no availability.
Don’t worry you can always try next year and in the meantime, the Christmas midnight mass will be livestreamed on St. Peter’s Square.
No matter, whether you have tickets for the mass inside the St. Peter’s basilica or are going to watch it outside in the square, arrive early, as it does get crowded.
Christmas nativity scenes have a long tradition in Italy and in December you will be able to find them in about every church and at some of the piazzas around Rome.
One of the most famous ones is the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. This year coming from the Andes and featuring traditional Andean elements, such as alpacas, traditional Chopcca costumes and much more.
Other nativity scenes are on display in Piazza del Campidoglio, Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo.
Another exhibition not to be missed is the International Exhibition “100 Presipi” featuring 100 different nativity scenes. Running from the 5th of December to the 9th of January. This free exhibition can be found in the Colonnades of St. Peter’s Square (can’t be missed, there are two big banners showing where the entrance is).
On Friday December 24th from 19:00 to 23:00, Misfits Christmas Eve Dinner. Cost: €25 a person. Traditional Christmas Dinner & Open bar + deserts! Reservations required via email [email protected]
Every year even before the pandemic #RomeExpats here for the holidays come together. If you are here for the holidays then join other Expats & Locals in our WHATSAPP CHAT. Enter chat and introduce yourself and also add which area you are in so others know if they are close by or not. You can suggest a meetup or attend a meetup organized by us or someone in the chat.
By Sarah Grunenberg
Here is the answer to the much asked question! The Vatican is the smallest state in the world but also one of the most famous. However, many do not know its history and wonder: why is the Vatican located in Rome?
The Vatican is a well known autonomous state, and also the smallest in the world, both in size and population. Officially born when signed by the Lateran Pacts in 1929, the Papal States have an ancient and fascinating history.
The Vatican is on one of the hills of Rome; in ancient times it was an uncultivated and unhealthy area. However, according to Pliny the Elder, the humid climate that characterized the hill on the right side of the Tiber river favored the growth of a special plant: a magical holm oak. It is a legend, of course, which gives the place a certain charm. Agrippinia Maggiore then had gardens built there and later Nero built a private circus there. Where the Vatican stands today, the martyrs of the first Christians took place, among whom there was also Saint Peter, Jesus's apostle.
The legend has it that Saint Peter was buried in the same place where he was crucified, in the fourth century after Christ the basilica was built in his honor above his remains, by the will of Constantine. However, at the time, the remains of the Holy Apostle had not yet been found.
The location of the relics of the Prince of the Apostles remained a legend until 1950. In fact, on the initiative of Pope Pius XII - who also financed the operation, in 1940 research began on the remains of St. Peter under the Vatican. Archaeological excavations continued unabated - even during the Second World War - until 1949. A Roman necropolis was found in which numerous Christians and non-Christians were buried. In 1950, Pius XII himself announced the discovery of the bones of San Pietro. Fundamental were the studies of the archaeologist Margherita Guarducci who confirmed in 1965 the identification of the remains and the tomb that bore the epigraph in Greek "Pietro is here".
Coronavirus: a new decree signed overnight by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and published in the Official Journal contains more stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus in Lombardy and in 14 other provinces where the number of infections are greater.
A series of other measures are valid throughout the national territory. Compared to the initial draft, which began to circulate yesterday evening, there are 14 provinces and not 11 provinces, in addition to Lombardy, affected by more rigorous measures to contain the infection. These provinces are Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro e Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padova, Treviso and Venezia. The measures stated in the decree are valid from today, March 8, until April 3.
It is forbidden to enter and exit
Travel in and out of Lombardy and the 14 provinces stated above is prohibited. One can only move for emergencies or "proven" work needs, which must however be authorized by the prefect. Absolute ban on mobility for those who have been in quarantine.
Schools closed until April 3 - The teaching activity for schools of all levels, universities and academies is suspended until April 3.
Bars and restaurants open from 6 to 18 - The decree states an opening hours allowed for restaurant and bar services, from 6 to 18, provided that a place is able to comply with the "obligation" to ensure the interpersonal safety distance of 1 meter in the premises, with the sanction of suspension of the activity in case of violation. The suspension of exams for a driving license is also ordered.
Closed gyms and swimming pools. Derogation for games behind closed doors
The decree also establishes the closure in Lombardy and in the 14 provinces mentioned above of all gyms, swimming pools, spas and wellness centers. Outdoor sports competitions are allowed only behind closed doors (no fans). Shopping centers will have to be closed but only on the weekend. Other commercial activities, other than catering, may remain open on condition that they are able to guarantee a distance of one meter between customers. Instead, museums, cultural centers and ski resorts are closed. Contests are also suspended.
No weddings or funerals. Cinemas and theaters are closed
Civil and religious ceremonies, including funeral ceremonies, are suspended. All organized events are also suspended, as well as events in public or private places, including those of a cultural, recreational, sporting and religious nature, even if held in closed places but open to the public, such as large events, cinemas, theaters, pubs, schools dance halls, game rooms, betting rooms and bingo halls, discos and similar places.
Whenever possible, employers are advised to encourage the use of ordinary leave or holidays by their employees.
Schools are closed until March 15th
The teaching activity for schools of all levels and universities remains suspended until March 15th. Educational trips and school trips are suspended until April 3.
Cinemas, theaters and museums are closed
Throughout the whole national territory, the suspension of cinematographic, theatre events and events and shows of any nature "carried out in every place, both public and private". Opening of museums is suspended. The Municipality of Rome announces that it has ordered the closure of all museums, theatres and all places and institutes of culture.
Closed pubs, discos and bingo
Pubs, dance schools, game rooms, betting rooms and bingo halls, discos and similar clubs are suspended.
Bars and restaurants, gyms and swimming pools are open but with an obligation to keep distance of 1 meter between customers.
The managers of catering businesses can continue to keep the premises open, provided that they guarantee the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter. Same goes for gyms and swimming pools, which can remain open as long as the visitors are guarantee safety distance from each other.
Among the preventive measures, art. 3 point C reads: "It is recommended to limit, where possible, the movement to strictly necessary cases".
Prohibition of staying in emergency rooms
Patient carers cannot stay in the emergency room waiting. Access of relatives and visitors to hospitals is also limited.
Prohibition of mobility for quarantined individuals
Even in the rest of Italy who is in preventive quarantine or has tested positive for the virus cannot move from home.
No civil and religious ceremonies, including funerals
Weddings and funerals are also suspended throughout the country.
Medical congresses suspension
Conferences, meetings and events involving healthcare personnel are suspended.
The decree provides for people in prisons to carry out the visits not in person but by telephone or video.
As in the red zone, same goes for the rest of Italy, whenever possible, employers are advised to encourage the use of ordinary leave or holidays by their employees.
Public transport and sanitation of vehicles
Public transport companies will have to take extraordinary measures to disinfect their vehicles.
Communicate to ASL (national heath care company) if you come from the red zone
Anyone returning to Italy from countries at epidemiological risk must communicate it to the competent ASL office. But also those who have passed through the red zones in the last 14 days (article 5, point 2).
Failure to comply with the decree is punished according to the article 650 of the Criminal Code, as required by the law of 23 February, i.e. with the arrest of up to 3 months and a fine of up to 206 euros.
Original article in Italian and the PDF of the decree you can read here.
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Rome is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, receiving between seven and ten million tourists a year! It’s easy to see why: it is a magnificent city, rich in history, culture, and charm. With thousands of people visiting the Eternal City every day, it is unsurprising that tourist traps and scams have popped up left right and centre. In this post, I would like to advise you how to avoid the most common ones. I should preface this post by saying that Rome is not a dangerous city. Even if you do experience crime, it is much more likely to be petty crime rather than violent. I lived there for almost two years and never had any moments when I felt unsafe.
Good common sense is necessary whenever travelling. For example:
The citizens of Rome are kind-hearted, gregarious people who are generally welcoming and friendly to tourists. Unfortunately there are some bad apples who will try to extort (or steal) money from you. Follow my top tips and don’t give them the satisfaction!
Let’s start with the worst offenders. Being robbed can seriously spoil your trip and dealing with insurance claims and police reports can be stressful, time-consuming processes. In Rome, many pickpockets work in groups using the distraction technique. Locals can recognise the gaggle of teenage, female pickpocketers by sight now! They mostly operate around Termini (the central train station which connects the A and B metro lines) along with stops along the A line at the major tourist attractions. The pickpocketing gangs distract you by pushing into you during the surge of people entering and exiting at different stops. While you focus on regaining your balance or finding something to hold onto, one of them slips their hand into your pockets. They immediately get off the train and blend into the crowd. However, solo pickpocketers also operate on the train (and buses and trams) so you should be aware of your belongings and surroundings whenever using public transport.
To protect against pickpocketing:
Here are some of the typical street distractions that you might encounter in Rome. The purpose is to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash… or distract & snatch.
It is a universal truth that when in Rome, street vendors will try persistently to sell you things. Bottles of ice cold water, selfie sticks, scarves, trinkets and souvenirs to name a few. Generally you can dismiss them with a “No, grazie” or just ignore them. However, some vendors can be really pushy and determined. You will often see vendors trying to sell red roses, usually to couples strolling hand in hand. If you are offered one, don’t accept it unless you are willing to pay for it. Even holding it for a brief moment will result in the vendor badgering you for payment (usually a few euros).
An alternative to the red roses is ‘the friendship bracelet’ or ‘friendship ring’ scam. The vendor might offer it as a gift, but once accepted, they immediately put it onto your hand or wrist. Once you’ve worn it, even for a split second, they will try to guilt-trip you into giving them money. I made the rookie mistake of engaging a street vendor in conversation and before I knew it, I had a threaded bracelet around my wrist. After much pleading from him, and rigid refusal from me, he angrily cut the bracelet off with scissors and stormed away. He may have put a hex on me too!
As a general rule, if a margherita pizza costs more than €7-8 euros, it is probably a tourist trap. Keep that in mind, along with these other words of wisdom to ensure that you don’t get ripped off whilst dining in Rome.
In Italy, it is illegal not to be given an itemised receipt. So if you are suspicious about the bill, ask for an itemised receipt and don’t accept a receipt that only shows the total.
There are some additional charges which might seem like scams, but actually aren’t. A cover charge will probably be added to your restaurant bill; pane e coperto (which translates as ‘bread and tableware’). This is normal. If you don’t want the bread, wave it away when it is brought over, or it will be added automatically. You may be surprised by water bottles being added to your bill when you thought they were complimentary. In Rome, it’s uncommon to ask for or receive tap water so you should expect to pay for water.
A little note about café culture – it is customary to quickly drink your coffee standing at the bar, rather than sip it slowly and leisurely at a table. If you want to sit down, your order will be more expensive. Cafés generally have two prices for each item – the al banco standing price and the al tavolo table price. Sometimes the difference can be quite ridiculous – like coffees costing two or three times more if consumed al tavolo. This is especially common in cafés surrounding the piazzas or near the main tourist attractions. Always check the menu before you order and don’t feel pressurised into sitting down if you just want a quick caffeine boost.
Train station ‘helpers’
Nothing screams ‘tourist’ like someone wandering around a train station with a confused look on their face, or spending five minutes pressing buttons on a ticket machine. I have witnessed ‘helpers’ prey on tourists many times. These people don’t work at the train station, they are just opportunists. Be very aware that if someone offers to show you how to buy your ticket, they might not be doing it out of the goodness of their heart. Single journey tickets cost €1.50 in Rome, and it is very common for a friendly stranger to try to persuade you to hand over some of your change. I have seen tourists paying willing, grateful for the assistance, but I have also seen people hand over the cash, looking confused and uncertain, wondering if this is part of the Italian tipping culture. It’s not.
Hopefully these ‘helpers’ will just badger you for some small coins but it could be worse. Someone could steal your wallet or demand a larger tip after helping to carry your bags. Keep hold of your belongings, use a polite but firm ‘No, grazie!’ and ask official train station staff for assistance.
Taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging unsuspecting tourists. I’ve heard of visitors paying €250 to travel from Fiumicino airport to the city centre. A staggering rip-off considering all official city taxis have fixed fares within the city limits. A single taxi journey from Fiumicino airport costs €48 and €30 from Ciampino airport. The city centre is classified as anywhere within the Aurelian walls. This map shows (in orange) which areas are included in this fixed fare scheme.
Use the official white taxis, rather than unmarked taxis whose drivers can charge whatever they like. If you do use a private taxi firm, ask how much it will roughly cost before getting in. You shouldn’t be charged extra per bag or passenger.
Make sure you have small change as well, so the driver cannot claim he doesn’t have any small notes and coins, and pockets your change.
Find one at a taxi rank or call a taxi firm. If you decide to book over the phone, be aware that the meter starts running once the booking is confirmed, not once you get inside the vehicle. At the time of writing, Uber Black is available in Rome and Scooterino is a popular alternative to Uber (the same premise except you whizz around the city on the back of a motorbike)
Other scams and tourist traps
Count your change before leaving the shop/till area. This is something I always had to check, especially when shopping in food and street markets. Don’t be embarrassed about slowly & carefully checking that you have received the right amount and question any discrepancies. Once they’ve been caught out, the vendors usually hand over the correct change with a half-hearted (or non-existent) apology.
There are hundreds of tour providers in Rome for the major sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican. Do your research before arriving and use reputable tour companies with official names/ logos / T-shirt. If in doubt, ask for recommendations from hotel staff.
Near the Colosseum, you will see men dressed in Roman gladiator costumes. They are routinely banned from loitering outside, but often return to persuade tourists to pose for photos. Once the photo has been taken, they will hound you for cash.
Walking around the city, you will see fake luxury products, like watches and handbags, being sold at knock-off prices. These are often sold on the bridges crossing the Tiber river and outside metro stations. It is a crime to be in possession of fake goods in Rome, and if caught by the police, you may be fined several thousand euros.
You may see tourists travelling around Rome in horse-drawn carts. I personally don’t agree with these as the horses are often overworked, underfed and dehydrated from dragging people around under the hot sun. If you want to ride in one of these carts, get a quote before climbing in.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you! Do you know of any other well-known scams that we should be aware of?
Ciao for now
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The legend comes from the 1950s Academy Award-winning film “Three Coins in the Fountain”: Throw a coin into the famed Fontana di Trevi, regarded as the most beautiful Baroque fountain in all of Italy, and you’ll one day return to visit Rome.
Toss in two more coins and you’ll be met with new romance and, eventually, a beautiful Roman wedding.
It may seem a silly tourist attraction, but millions of visitors flock to the 18th-century landmark each year to partake in the tradition. In fact, the fountain fills up so quickly that Rome’s city workers sweep its floor every night to collect the day’s loot.
Throughout 2016 they collected $1.5 million, according to NBC News, money that has long been sent to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports causes around the world related to health, disaster relief, poverty, and migration.
Keep reading to learn more about the fountain’s history, how the coins are collected, and …
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