I don’t know about you, but November seemed a tiring, rather sad month and I could do with some cheering up. So as the countdown to Christmas has begun, I thought I’d add a few events in Rome to my advent calendar to get me into the festive spirit:
Winter sun in the Parco dell’Appia Antica
The weather has stayed unremittingly beautiful this autumn and has only now become just a wee bit colder. But the sun is still shining and temperatures are set to stay at around 15 degrees. Perfect for a walk in the country. The Parco dell’Appia Antica continues to organise a range of outdoor events in December including: guided historical walks, bike rides and activities for children. More information on their Facebook page too.
To celebrate the beginning of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Vatican announced it will unveil the Christmas tree and nativity scene in St Peter’s square early this year on the 8th December. The 8th will mark the opening ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica as well as the Pope’s annual visit to the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Spanish Steps to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Romewise website has more information on the Jubilee and some great December travel tips too.
My favourite carol service in Rome is the annual Swedish Santa Lucia celebration in one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, Piazza di Pietra 8th December 7.30pm. With the ancient Temple of Hadrian as a backdrop, candles, beautiful singing and free mulled wine this is a special event. The Irish College also holds a beautiful service followed by carols on the 13th December at 17:00 with mince pies after the service (which is like finding gold in Rome and far too exciting). For traditional English carols in the heart of Rome, the All Saints’ Anglican Church on Via del Babuino will be giving its Service of Nine Lessons with Carols on the 20th December at 18:00. Arrive early as it’s always extremely popular.
Visit the 100 Nativity Scenes on display at Piazza del Popolo
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a Nativity scene made from clothes pegs. Every Italian home has its own Christmas crib in much the same way that we put up a Christmas tree every year. Following a Naples tradition of beautifully made, often extremely elaborate and detailed nativity scenes, the 100+ nativity scenes or presepi on display at the Sala Del Bramante are a homage to this very Italian Christmas tradition with scenes from around the world in a variety of guises. Open every day until January 10th.
Despite seeing no sign of them yet, Rome’s Christmas lights are always beautiful and I’m very much looking forward to this year’s big switch on. From Piazza Venezia’s Christmas tree head up Via del Corso and lose yourself following the prettiest lights along the side streets. I’m hoping that the Christmas jellyfish will be paying a return visit.
Piazza Navona’s Christmas market has long been a favourite with families with Christmas decorations, sweets and small gifts on sale. It’s usually extremely busy, but with music and street entertainers in between the crowds it’s worth at least one visit. If you like your presents a little bit more vintage, try the Mercato Monti open every weekend from 10am – 8pm. For a bit of skating with your shopping, the Città dell’Altra Economia in Testaccio will be hosting a Mercatino di Natale and ice-rink starting this Saturday 5th December. For a full list of Rome’s markets this Christmas visit Mercati di Roma’s website www.mercatidiroma.com which has a special section dedicated to festive events.