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Where to spend Christmas in Rome

From life-sized nativity scenes to a 30-metre-high Christmas tree and midnight mass, in this city guide we bring you the best ways to spend Christmas in Rome

Katie Ramsingh
City Guide
Katie Ramsingh,

If you’re spending Christmas in the Italian capital, these are the festive hotspots you don’t want to miss:

The Vatican
At the top of nearly all to-do lists in Rome is a visit to the Vatican, even more so during the Christmas period. The modern home of the Catholic religion, the Vatican hosts a series of events during the month of December, including the famous Papal Christmas Eve midnight mass. You will need to email the Vatican directly to book your seat in Saint Peter’s Square – tickets are free but people begin to take their places well ahead of time, so we recommend you bring a blanket and get there early.


Saint Peter’s Square
A huge 90-foot Christmas tree is erected in Rome’s famous Saint Peter’s Square for the entire festive period, as well as a life-sized nativity scene in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica. There are also more than 100 other nativity scenes from around the world set up across the city for you to admire, including some from Asia, Latin America and Africa.


Piazza Navona
This much-loved market gets a seasonal makeover for the holiday period, selling gifts and treats galore, and is the perfect place to pick up a Christmas present or two. The square also has a carousel, ideal for entertaining small children or the young at heart.


Castel Sant’Angelo
Ice-skating outside the Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most fun winter activities Rome has to offer. Everyone from families to couples and friends will enjoy visiting this large rink with its beautiful scenery at Christmas time.


Via dei Condotti
The city’s major shopping street, Via dei Condotti, comes alive at Christmas with beautiful lights and decorations, helping to put visitors in the festive mood. The zampognari – performers dressed in native sheepskin – are also a common sight, playing their bagpipes around the area at this time of year.



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