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  • Christmas in Rome – Buon Natale!

    12/23/2019 11:41:11 AM Link |  | Add comment

    Christmas, family, group, Holiday, Italy, Rome, shopping, tour, vacation

    Have you had the wonderful experience of staying in an authentic monastery, convent & Diocesan accommodation?  We can book your dream vacation to Italy, contact us today.

    Experience the wonder of the Eternal City during the holiday period

    Rome is famous for being one of the most lively and exciting in places in Europe, and Christmas time is no exception as the city celebrates the holidays in spectacular fashion.

    Buildings, houses and attractions are all adorned with lovely Christmas decorations, street markets come alive by day and night and beautiful Christmas trees stand tall all over the city.

    Christmas Markets

    Monastery Stays Italy Christmas Accommodation in Rome
    Christmas Markets in Piazza Navona, Rome [Credit]

    The most famous Christmas market is set up in Piazza Navona from the 8th of December until the 6th of January. The Epiphany is celebrated throughout Italy and especially in Rome, where it has come to represent a day almost as important as Christmas Day itself.

    This lovely Christmas market is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike in December, with a range of food stalls (selling such treats as doughnuts and peanut brittle), local handcrafts and toys for sale.

    There is also a life-size presepe on display in the square, which is a beautifully presented, traditional Italian nativity scene. There are many presepi on display throughout Rome during Christmas.

    To stay close to the fantastic atmosphere of these markets, we can book your accommodations around Piazza Navona.

    A different experience, but equally suggestive, is that of the Piazza Vittorio market, just beside Termini railway station. This area is the multiethnic hub of the city, and it hosts all year long a bustling and vibrant street market for ethnic food, crafts and fair trade products. Christmas time brings new elements to this well-known market, in which the local traditions merge with multicultural influences, contributing to the creation of a unique atmosphere.

    Nativity Scene Exhibitions

    Monastery Stays Italy Christmas Accommodation in Rome
    Christmas Markets in Piazza Navona, Rome [Credit]

    The Nativity scene exhibitions are amongst the most characteristic events of the Christmas season in Rome – they attract a large number of visitors, not only tourists but also the Romans themselves.

    The most famous Nativity scenes can be found in all major churches such as Saint Peter ‘s and Santa Maria Maggiore. The Nativity scene set up in Santa Maria Maggiore is believed to be the oldest (XIII century).

    Other cribs are set up in nearly every church and in many public places such as Piazza Navona, the Campidoglio City Hall and the Spanish Steps.

    These works are handmade by famous artists from all over the country, including Naples, Sicily and the Trentino region in northern Italy, where this tradition is particularly strong.

    Less famous but no less important are the nativity scenes set up at Christmas time (from the first week of December until the 6th of January) in Via Giulia. Via Giulia is a long street running parallel to the river Tiber in the historical centre of Rome, designed by Pope Julius II in the XVI century.

    The right side of the street is characterised by a number of historical buildings and antique shops, which display a collection of nativity scenes in their windows.

    Religious Events

    Monastery Stays Italy Christmas Accommodation in Rome
    The Nativity scene in St Peters Square, Rome [Credit]

    The midnight Mass represents the essence of the religious celebrations of Christmas.

    Contrary to what many people believe, the Midnight Mass at Saint Peter ‘s Basilica is not open to the public: in order to attend this celebration an invitation or a special ticket issued by a diocese is required.

    An equally suggestive and unique atmosphere, however, can be experienced attending midnight Mass in other churches in the capital, not only in the big Basilicas, but also in local churches, open all night long and prepared to welcome visitors from all over the world. Another equally important event – free and open to the public – is the papal blessing that takes place at midday on Christmas Day in Saint Peter’s Square.

    Each year, thousands of tourists, locals and pilgrims gather in the Square from the early hours of the morning, waiting to attend the blessing and the seasonal greetings addressed to the City of Rome and to the entire world.

    Rome Gospel Festival

    Gospel music has not been mainstream in Italian culture until a few years ago, but things have changed significantly since the Rome Gospel Festival was introduced in 1995. The Festival is held at the Auditorium Parco della Musica – Rome ‘s biggest public music complex.

    Every year it brings an international selection of well-known artists to Rome. This event includes a series of concerts that combine the experience of this fascinating musical genre with the unique context of Rome at Christmas time.

    What to do on Christmas Day

    Monastery Stays Italy Christmas Accommodation in Rome

    As a tourist, Christmas Day in Rome can be very different to a normal day spent exploring the city. There are significantly fewer people on the street on Christmas Day in certain parts of the city.

    You will find the biggest crowd on Christmas Day in St. Peter’s Square, gathered to hear the Pope deliver his annual Christmas address from his balcony at midday.

    A good place to catch a glimpse of some of the sights of Rome without the usual wave of tourists is around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. While these attractions are not open on December 25th, you can stroll around the Colosseum, view the Arch of Constantine and walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali, which offers views over a large portion of the Roman Forum for free.

    There are also a number of restaurants open in Rome on Christmas Day, so a traditional Italian Christmas meal will still be available. Traditional Italian fare on Christmas Day involves a lot of red meat, with fish being the main meal on Christmas Eve.

    Contact one of our agents at Travel by Ginny to book your 2020 Italian Christmas Holiday!

    Important Christmas Dates in Rome

    Monastery Stays Italy Christmas Accommodation in Rome
    The Colosseum on a December Night
    • December 8th – The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a national holiday across Italy. Be sure to get to the Spanish Steps, where the Pope visits the statue of the Virgin Mary and lays down wreaths and flowers.
    • December 25th – Start off Christmas Day the night before by visiting a church in Rome for midnight mass. A truly unforgettable experience.
    • December 26th – Join the locals on St. Stephen’s Day as they visit presepi, found in most churches throughout Rome.
    • December 31st – There is no better place to bring in the New Year in Rome than at Piazza del Popolo. Crowds of people flock to the square for celebrations and fireworks that light up the night sky.
    • January 6th – The Epiphany is the day which marks the end of the Christmas season and is another public holiday on the Italian calendar.
  • Pop Up Holiday Traditions New and Old

    12/11/2019 12:20:36 PM Link |  | Add comment

    christmas, holiday, recipes

    From decorating the tree to carving the turkey, there are many time-honored holiday traditions observed by families around the country. However, the holiday season is about more than just celebrating old traditions.

    A perfect opportunity for creating new memories and, in turn, traditions, popcorn can serve as an ideal ingredient to bring family time to life. Whether wrapping the tree with garland made from the light and airy treat, filling clear ornaments with freshly popped kernels or simply popping up a bowl as a nutritious alternative to other holiday noshes, popcorn makes it easy to get hands-on while you deck the halls.

    These seasonal recipes for traditional treats like peppermint bark and popcorn balls plus edible trees and a more elegant take on a simple snack highlight low-fat, non-GMO, gluten-free whole-grain popcorn as the main ingredient. Find more modern takes on traditional holiday recipes at

    White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark

    Yield: 1 pound

    • 5          cups popped popcorn
    • 12        ounces white chocolate baking chips
    • 1 cup crushed hard candy peppermints Cover baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside.
    1. Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside.
    2. In double boiler over barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring until smooth.
    3. Stir in crushed peppermints.
    4. Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn and stir to coat.
    5. Spread onto prepared pan; cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set, break into chunks.

    Easy, Elegant Holiday Popcorn

    Yield: 8 cups

    • 8          cups popped popcorn
    • 1/2       cup milk chocolate chips
    • 1/2       cup white chocolate chips
    • candy sprinkles
    1. Line baking sheet with wax paper. Spread popcorn in thin layer on prepared pan.
    2. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-second increments, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn.
    3. Place white chocolate chips in separate microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-second increments, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn.
    4. Sprinkle desired amount of candy sprinkles over warm chocolate-coated popcorn.
    5. Allow chocolate drizzles to set until firm. Break popcorn into pieces.

    Note: Chocolate chips can be replaced with cut up chocolate bars.

    Cranberry Popcorn Balls

    Yield: 18 balls

    • 2          cups sugar
    • 1          cup whole berry cranberry sauce, slightly mashed
    • 1          tablespoon grated orange peel
    • 1/2       cup cranberry juice
    • 1/2       cup light corn syrup
    • 1          teaspoon vinegar
    • 1/2       teaspoon salt
    • 5          quarts unsalted, popped popcorn
    • butter
    1. In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cranberry sauce, grated orange peel, cranberry juice, corn syrup, vinegar and salt.
    2. Bring to boil; lower heat and cook until temperature reaches 250 F on candy thermometer.
    3. Slowly pour cranberry mixture onto hot popcorn; mix until well-coated.
    4. Let stand 5 minutes, or until mixture can easily be formed into balls.
    5. Butter hands and form into 3-inch balls.

    Festive Popcorn Trees

    Yield: 10 trees

    • 10        cups air-popped popcorn
    • 1          bag (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows
    • 2          tablespoons butter
    • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
    • nonstick cooking spray
    • green decorating sugar
    • blue decorating sugar
    • 1          tube white frosting
    • small, colorful candies such as sprinkles and miniature silver dragees
    1. Place popcorn in large bowl.
    2. In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir marshmallows and butter until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
    3. Stir in vanilla extract.
    4. Pour mixture over popcorn in bowl. Toss well to coat popcorn evenly.
    5. Line baking sheet with foil.
    6. Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray then scoop about 1 cup popcorn mixture.
    7. Shape mixture into cone, keeping base flat to form tree.
    8. Sprinkle tree with decorating sugars; place tree on baking sheet.
    9. Make nine additional trees.
    10. Using decorating tip, pipe frosting on trees to make garland then decorate with sprinkles and silver dragees, as desired.
    11. Serving suggestion: Place each tree on sugar cookie and decorate serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow.

    Notes: For best flavor and color, start recipe with unflavored white popcorn. You can make colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar then stirring in bowl or shaking vigorously in sealed container. Add additional food coloring for more intense tones.

    Popcorn Board

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