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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


A Roman Christmas

Welcome to Part Three of the Christmas in Italy trio that I’m doing this month! Once again, there is a video attached, a familiar song, but sung in Italian. If anyone wants to locate the other blogs in this set, feel free to drop me a quick note, or come by my personal blog and I’ll leave the links there! So, on to the holiday in Italia...

Picture Rome at Christmas, and what it would mean to spend the holiday there… the crowds at St. Peter's for Midnight Mass, the chance to see the countless churches with their presepi (Nativity scenes), and perhaps some of the world-famous monuments glimmering under holiday lights. Then there is the festive Christmas market in Piazza Navona.

A walk through Campo dei Fiori toward the piazza brings you into a colourful holiday wonderland. It is, I am told, an incredible sight, with stands and stalls covered in thousands of lights, and offering Christmas candy, small games, and toys such as stuffed reindeer-being sold by Santas! The scene brings back that almost child-like sense of wonder that we all used to feel around the holidays.

Rarely is Christmas cold in the sense that North Americans understand cold, but occasionally there is a cool Winter. The Italian Press tends to refer to such events as Natale Polare or “Polar Christmas”.

For Italians, Christmas represents family… and food. (Shocked, aren’t you? :-) ) And, while the shops are full of wonderful gifts, there is far less emphasis on the commercial aspect of Christmas than in other places. The streets and shops of Rome are crowded on Christmas Eve–but the shoppers' arms aren't full of shopping bags with the latest clothes or toys, they are loaded down with the foods of the season–fresh fish as well as sweets like panettone, pandoro and torrone.

Also, the decorations don't go up very early… usually only a week or so before Christmas because they stay up until the Epiphany on January 6th.

One of the joys of shopping in Italy is the great attention the shopkeepers pay to each purchase and especially at Christmas. Whether you choose a gift that costs a small fortune or something as simple as a pastry to enjoy yourself, your purchase is given loving attention and treated with care. There is a magic that is purely Italian in every breath you take while in Italy, but it is never more in evidence than during this Holy holiday.

If you have the pleasure of spending the Holiday in Rome, rest assured you will not need to struggle with tradition – a visit to many restaurants will ensure that you will be treated to a purely Italian holiday meal. The owner will often tell tourists to close the menus and will then serve the meal that every visitor has dreamed about... usually ending it with a slice from a giant panettone, the traditional cake that originated in Milan and is served throughout the holidays; it's a bit like fruit cake, only much better!

Buon Natale!

Special thanks to the following sites and people for their help in preparing my Christmas Posts: News From Italy, The Italian Notebook, Dream of Italy, and my wonderful friend Stefano Testatonda.


Lady Jane said...

Wow! That sounds so lovely I wish I could go to Italy just once. My hubby's gone but it was before we were together.

debbie haupt said...

Thanks Denyse, that looks incredible. Makes one yearn for that far away Christmas getaway.

Denysé said...

Thank you both so much! The first two parts of the set have appeared on other blogs, but were also posted to my own blog the day after their "debut" spots - so if you're curious, they're both there now.... - Italy is the home of my heart, even though I haven't been there yet, so I was very pleased when I was able to create these posts to share a little bit of that magic with everyone!

Thanks, HUGS and Happy Christmas to everyone!!

robynl said...

would I ever love to be in Italy at Christmas and see the sights, taste the food, etc. You made it sound so inviting.

Lisa J said...

mmmmm panettone and espresso.....YUM! Shopping in such stunning surroundings - sign me up!!!!!
Lisa J xx

LeslieJane said...

Now even more reasons to visit Rome, expecially during the holidays. Sounds so interesting. My to-be-visited places keeps growing.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Denyse! Happy Holidays! Well, now I really want a big slice of pannetone and small cup of espresso! Thank you for sharing "warm" Christmas traditions!

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Sherry Gloag said...

Thanks for showing us another version of Christmas.
Best wishes for 2010

Rowena Cherry said...

Hey, Denyse,

I'm not entering the contest, just stopping by to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

And to say that I enjoyed your post. My husband took me to the Turin Truck Show for our honeymoon, many years ago.


Michelle Kafka said...

Thanks for the insight into a Roman Christmas. Happy holidays!

sherry said...

I would love to go to Italy any time of year but Christmas time would be wonderful but only if I had all of my family with me.