Rome sparkles like a jewel box in December. Holiday lights adorn palazzos, cobblestone streets, and ancient monuments in every corner of the city. The festivities start in early December and continue right through the beginning of January. Outdoor skating rinks, colourful Christmas markets, and stacks of seasonal chocolates and Italian baking add to the charm.
Lavish Christmas trees are decorated and proudly stand in front of St Peter's Cathedral, the Colosseum, and Piazza Venezia. Less crowded than summer, December in Rome brings its own delights — food tours that take you to the bustling Jewish Quarter; day trips that take you to Pompeii, Capri and Florence. So bundle up and join us for a romp through the best ideas for your Roman holiday in December.
|The Most Popular Activities||Top Day Trips from Rome||Classical Music, Opera & Ballet|
|Top Food & Wine Activities||Festivals & Events||The Best of Arts & Culture|
Go directly inside the Colosseum. This tour is on our fave list because it lets you skip the lines and gives you the option of visiting the restricted-access underground chambers. After you learn about the gladiators, take an informative tour of the ancient Roman Forum. And remember, in December that mammoth Christmas tree will greet you in front of the Colosseum.
Be a Vatican VIP and have your personal guard unlock doors for you to reveal secret rooms normally off limits to the public. Highlights are the Gold Room, with a dazzling collection of papal & Etruscan jewelry, and the Niccoline Chapel, adorned with gold brought back by Christopher Columbus. The tour ends on a high note with a private tour of Sistine Chapel after the doors have been closed to the public.
We also like this skip-the-line tour that shows you the majesty of St Peter's with a expert guide to fill in all the details and history. Afterwards, it's a short elevator ride, then 300 steps to the tippy top of Michelangelo's dome, where you see the mosaic designs and unparalleled views from the highest point in Rome!
This is one our best and most appreciated travel tips. Before you leave home arrange for an airport transfer from the airport into Rome. It's good to know what's going to happen when you arrive at the Fiumicino airport. These modern shuttle vans take you directly to your hotel, and they're cheaper than a taxi.
Florence also sparkles in December. It's a great time to see the best of the city — the Accademia Gallery, Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's Madonna and Child, Brunelleschi's Dome of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the medieval bridge, Ponte Vecchio, that spans the river Arno, and a special insider tour to a legendary leather-making school to see why Florence produces the most sought-after leather goods in the world.
Capri is captivating & chic in every month of the year including December. Travel by luxury coach to Naples, then cross over to the island! First stop is Capri's number one attraction, the Blue Grotto. Have lunch in the hilltop village of Anacapri and then shop and people-watch in Capri.
Another wonderful thing to do in December is to take in a concert at one of the many gorgeous churches and cathedrals that dot the seven hills. There's The Voice of Italy in Ancient Rome at the Stadio di Domiziano, Sounds & Visions of Caravaggio at Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Vivaldi's Four Seasons & a New Year's Eve Concert at Chiesa di S. Paolo entro le Mura. See the entire calendar for December!
In a cellar right by the Pantheon immerse yourself in the best of Italian cuisine & hospitality. The evening starts with a classic aperitivo served in the cellar of the restaurant, followed by three courses of local specialties in the dining room. Each traditional Roman course is paired with a glass of regional wine.
Jostle with locals at Rome's delicious markets & gourmet food shops in Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto. Visit Campo de' Fiori's famous market and sample Italian classics — fresh mozzarella with locally cured salami, a classic Roman pasta dish, and artisan gelato at Fata Margana Gelaterie. The small group tour is limited to 12 to ensure you get enough pasta!
The Christmas season is a big deal in Rome, and from the first week of December until early January you'll find plenty of seasonal markets selling toys, gifts and Christmas foods. We especially like the food aspect! Here are the top markets —
• Piazza Navona – a carousel, nativity scene, and plenty of stalls selling seasonal gifts.
• Villagio di Natale, Christmas Village, is the largest of its kind in Rome, in Piazza della Radio (in Trastevere).
• Natale all'Auditorium Parco della Musica – an outdoor skating rink + a small market + live music. Website…
• Arts & Mestieri Expo – 300 stalls selling everything from chocolate to leather. Fiera di Roma. Website…
• Piazza Venezia (plus a large Christmas Tree)
• Via dei Coronari
• Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina
• Piazza Sant'Eustachio
• Piazza Navona
• Via dei Baullari, toward Campo dei Fiori
• Via Urbana in Monti
• Via del Corso
• Via dei Condotti
• Spanish Steps
The fall festival winds up for this year in early December. RomaEuropa is a celebration of music, dance, theatre and other arts events.
• Ends December 3, 2016