Rome: perfect for a festive city break
If you are hoping to jet off on a last-minute city getaway this winter, Rome is an excellent destination to choose for some festive fun. There is always lots going on in the Italian capital at this time of the year – read our guide for some of the top picks.
Admire the Christmas lights
Should you be hoping have a budget city break in Rome, you can’t go wrong by simply wandering around the streets and taking in the amazing displays of festive lights, from the towering Christmas tree in St Peter’s Square to the colourful illuminations that adorn some of the city’s most famous streets and squares.
Via Frattina, Via Condotti, Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo are among the locations with most dazzling light displays, but wherever you go, you’re bound to find some festive cheer.
Visit the 100 Presepi exhibition
This is an absolute must on any trip to Rome at this time of the year, as wandering around the 100 Presepi exhibition is a unique experience. This annual event sees hundreds of handmade nativity scenes go on show in the Sale del Bramante near Piazza del Popolo.
Artists from all over the world submit their own interpretations of the nativity to be displayed in the event, which opened on November 22nd 2012 and will run until January 6th 2013. And, as a full-price ticket is just €7.50 (£6), you won’t need to splash out too much to enjoy the installations.
Browse the stalls at the Piazza Navona Christmas Market
The festive market in Piazza Navona is a delight to explore, with bright lights draped over the stalls, the smell of fresh food wafting through the air and stands covered in intricate Christmas decorations for you to browse.
Wander around the vendors and just soak up the atmosphere if you’re keen to save a few pennies – but you may be tempted to take a memento of your yuletide break home with you when you see the array of crafts on offer. Wooden toys, nativity scenes and all manner of Christmas ornaments are on sale here.
You should also sample some of the delicious festive treats being served up by stallholders, with the likes of panettone, roasted chestnuts and torrone – nougat mixed with almonds and honey – easy to find in the bustling market.
Go ice skating
Every year, several outdoor ice rinks spring up on Rome’s streets, providing you with plenty of picturesque locations in which to get your skates on and gracefully glide across the ice for an hour or two.
There is usually a rink near Castel Sant’Angelo, while ice skating facilities have previously be set up in locations such as Re di Roma, Tor di Quinto and Villa Gordiani. You’ll need to pay a small fee for skate hire (with prices varying from rink to rink), but it’s more than worth it to have the chance to skate in such beautiful locations.
Check out Christmas at the Auditorium
Every year, Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica hosts a fantastic festive extravaganza, where everything from musical concerts and puppet shows to Christmas markets and themed tournaments take place.
The venue is decked out in striking decorations to mark the occasion every year, with the event running from December 3rd 2012 until January 6th 2013 this winter. A performance of the Nutcracker and shows by the Cirque Invisible are among the highlights of the 2012-13 festival.