Christmas Decorations & Festivity in Rome

Piazza Venezia Christmas tree

There are some lovely decorations, lights and Christmas trees to check out as you stroll through Rome during the holiday season.

Christmas in Italy is also characterised by its lovely and elaborate nativity scenes (presepi) which you’ll find in just about every church in the city, and by the gorgeous panettone packages in the window of every alimentare and pasticceria. They’re different every year, and vary from shop to shop, each one more beautiful than the next!

Piazza Venezia always has a Christmas tree (pictured above), some years nicer than others, and this year’s is the latter unfortunately. Italians voted it the ugliest tree in Italy this year! Fortunately following negative publicity the municipality touched up the decorations. The improved tree, along with the gorgeous backdrop of Piazza Venezia, make it worth a night-time visit.

Last year there was a fabulous Christmas tree outside of the colosseum, but this year nothing at all. The mayor decided that to cut costs there’d be no tree. (Bah humbug to the mayor!).

Romans don’t despair, however, and get into the holiday spirit in their own way. Hundreds of all ages joined in for a Sunday morning bike and motorbike ride around the colosseum, all dressed as Santa Claus!

Christmas bike ride around the Colosseum

Saint Peter’s square always has a large outdoor presepe and a Christmas tree.

Saint Peters Square at Christmas

This presepe, like most, features elaborate scenes of daily life.

Presepe Saint Peters Square, Rome

Presepe Saint Peters Square, Rome

Italy is a great place to purchase figurines and everything else you’d need for nativity scenes. A lovely year-round Christmas and presepe shop can be found on Via dei Coronari, right off Piazza Navona. If you have time for a day trip then a visit to Naples is the best place to buy everything you could ever want for a presepe!

For many years Piazza Navona was filled with Christmas vendors, but for the past several years the city has banned almost all commercial activity in the piazza during the holiday season.

What does remain is a lovely hand-painted antique carousel, built in Germany in 1896 by the Horst Und Webber company.

Piazza Navona carousel

It’s worth noting some of the beautiful details on this carousel, so emblematic of the holiday season in Piazza Navona:

Piazza Navona merry-go-round

Piazza Navona carousel

A few of the larger hotels always adorn their establishments with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. My favorites are the Hotel Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps…

Hassler Hotel at Christmas

and the Grand Hotel near Piazza della Repubblica:

Grand Hotel at Christmas

Some of the nicer shopping areas in Rome line their streets with Christmas lights. The prettiest this year is Via del Babuino, right near the Spanish Steps.

Via del Babuino at Christmas

From the top of the Spanish Steps you can look right down the length of the gorgeous Via Condotti, filled with Christmas lights and some of Rome’s most beautiful shops. In the foreground you can just barely see the outline of an unlit Christmas tree, placed there by designer Bulgari, a patron of Rome who funded the recently completed restoration of the Spanish steps. For a certain number of hours every evening this artificial tree is ablaze with white lights.

Via Condotti at Christmas

Designer Fendi, another patron of Rome who funded the Trevi fountain restoration, always dazzles with unique Christmas decorations outside of its flagship shop on Largo Goldoni (Via del Corso):

Fendi in Rome at Christmas

Il Cigno, on Viale Parioli 16, is one of my favorite pastry shops in Rome. When Christmas comes along Il Cigno goes all out creating fabulous panettone and other amazing, delectable Christmas treats. And by the way, Il Cigno also rates among Rome’s top ten for both cappuccini and cornetti.

A few of Il Cigno’s panettone packages…

Panettone, Il Cigno, Parioli

Panettone, Il Cigno, Parioli

This one, priced at €300, weighs 10 kilograms A fabulous gift for a big holiday crowd!

Panettone, Il Cigno, Parioli

Or mini-panettoni:

Christmas panettoni, Il Cigno, Parioli

Wondering what to do with your leftover panettone post-holidays? Try this great recipe!

Il Cigno also prepares gorgeous cakes, cookies and chocolates…

Christmas treats, Il Cigno, Parioli

Christmas treats, Il Cigno, Parioli

Christmas treats, Il Cigno, Parioli

And finally, this Christmas tree, prepared with solid chocolate disks and nuts, is my favorite by far! Happy holidays!

Christmas treats, Il Cigno, Parioli



Piazza Venezia Christmas 2016








Panettone 2016



Happy New Year




2 Responses to Christmas Decorations & Festivity in Rome
  1. Phyllis@Oracibo
    December 20, 2016 | 19:06

    Thanks for allowing me to come along on your Roman Christmas viewings. The Hassler looks lovely…I could go for a Negroni there right now. Have you ever scratched you head about the way the bar was re-decorated? Do you remember what it looked like before? Regardless…we both had excellent Negroni’s there!
    Buon natale Wendy to you and your family! Here’s to 2017 and hope to see you then!

    • Wendy
      January 15, 2017 | 13:49

      Have a great start to 2017 and see you soon!

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