"Grande Musica in Chiesa" festival of Sacred Music, Dec 11th 2010 - Jan 6th 2011
At the bottom of the page you can download the calendar of the concerts!
In addition to the 20-meter tall tree in the Piazza Venezia, the city's garden service has erected a 15-meter tall tree at the Campidoglio and a huge 22-meter tall tree on the Pincio hill, while the Via Veneto has been decorated with 5,000 cyclamen. The lights on the huge tree and larger than life-sized nativity scene at the Vatican will be lit from December 24.
Presepi, the Italian Christmas Crêches are almost more iconic than the Christmas tree, here in Italy, and there are displays all over Rome. At Sala del Bramante in Piazza del Popolo 1, the annual display of 100 presepi is open daily through January 6, 9:30 am - 8 pm.
Performs in the streets of RomeThe historic center is already crowded with shoppers and tourists, but to add to the general gaiety, the city of Rome is sponsering "Toccata e Fuga", a series of free performances in the Piazza di Spagna, with a quartet of singers, a pianist and a troupe of dancers: Decembe, 20, 27 and January 3, shows at 6 pm.
To make getting around a bit easier, three shoppers' shuttle buses have been launched.
SHOPPING 1: Will run from 10:30 am- 10:30 pm, stops at Porta Pinciana, Via Crispi, Via Sistina, Piazza Trinità dei Monti, Viale G. D'Annunzio – Piazza del Popolo. Via di Ripetta, Piazza Augusto Imperatore, Via Tomacelli – Via di Monte Brianzo, Corso Rinascimento, Via del Teatro Valle, Piazza della Minerva, Piazza del Collegio Romano, Largo Chigi, Via del Tritone and Via Veneto.
SHOPPING 2: Will run from Tor di Quinto to Largo Augusto Imperatore, every 15 minutes with stops at Via Flaminia, Corso Francia, Lungotevere, Piazza Bainsizza, Via Oslavia, Piazza Mazzini, Via Ferrari, via Cicerone, Piazza Cavour.
SHOPPING 3: Will run every fifteen minutes, connects Via Pieve di Cadore (Monte Mario) with Piazzale delle Canestre, stopping at Via Cortina d'Ampezzo, Via Cassia, Via di Vigna Stelluti, Corso Francia, Viale Pilsudski, Via Flaminia, Piazzale Flaminio and Viale Washington.
The sun shines through most of the winter in Rome. It can get a bit nippy sitting at outdoor cafe tables, but the city is vibrant and alive during the colder months of the year...
Snow is almost unknown in Rome, and even on the coldest days in winter, the sun usually makes a generous appearance. Locals wrap up in sleeping-bag coats, muffled up to their noses, but there really aren't many days that feel very cold to someone from a cooler climate. Heating in Rome (usually centralised) is generally switched on in mid-November. Temperatures vary throughout the winter; sometimes a cold wind can send a chill through the streets, at other times it's mild enough to eat outside, even in February. Many restaurants and bars have heaters above outdoors tables, and continue to serve customers. You'll need a coat, gloves and scarf, but don't forget your sunglasses.
Visitors to Rome over Christmas will doubtless head for the Vatican. Highlights of the season are the Papal Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and the Pope reading his Christmas message in the piazza in front of St. Peter's at noon on Christmas Day. In St. Peter's Square there is also a famous life-size nativity scene.
The Christmas period in Rome really begins on the 8th December, the festival of the Immaculate Conception, when the Pope pays a visit to the Spanish Steps, and flowers are placed over a statue of Mary. He then moves on to give mass at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The last big religious date is the 6th January, Epiphany. For Romans this is the feast of the Befana, an old lady from a folkloric version of the Christmas story, who brings gifts to children. You will see the Befana represented in many forms at the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona, and also during the Epiphany parade of colourful characters and floats leading up to the Vatican.
As well as the grand display outside St Peter's, and a smaller effort in Piazza Navona, other nativity scenes (presepi) can be seen in most of Rome's churches. These are important destinations for Italian visitors, and it's worth visiting one or two. Some have fascinating details, and even feature day-into-night lighting effects. If you are really keen, there is a large exhibition of presepi in the Sala del Bramante by Piazza del Popolo (admission charge).
At the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona you can buy the components for your own nativity scene, as well as sweets, wooden toys and all sorts of Christmas-related ornaments and goodies. Shoppers can marvel at the elaborate additions to nativity scenes, from working waterfalls to moving bakery scenes.
Those interested in Christmas shopping will find the main shopping streets sparkling with festive lights and packed with shoppers. Groups of busking musicians, often dressed as Santas, play cheerful seasonal tunes. Many shops lay down red carpeting on the pavements (which quickly gets filthy), and the last few years have seen an invasion of large inflatable Santa Clauses. As well as the Christmas lights, a giant Christmas tree appears in the centre of town, in Piazza Venezia or by the Colosseum.
Rome is full of good places to buy presents: hundreds of little food shops are packed with goodies to take home. Most shops will wrap gifts for you free of charge, in shiny packaging.
The winter is a good time for those interested in cultural events, or the Italian way of life. During the summer, Rome empties as locals head on holiday, bars, clubs and theatres close down. Theatre seasons usually run, like the football, from autumn to spring. There aren't as many festivals as there are in the summer, but you are more likely to catch regular performances of shows during your visit. On the shopping days before Christmas, and around the Italian bank holiday of 8th December, the streets can rather busy, but usually the tourist sights are not too busy in the winter. Thanks to the sunshine and the mild climate, it can be a pleasant winter treat to sit outdoors with a steaming cup of rich hot chocolate or vin brulé (mulled wine).