Episode #051: Christmas In Rome And Italy

This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here

Listen to “Christmas in Rome and Italy” on Spreaker.




Merry Christmas or Buon Natale as it is in Italian! The Christmas season is a wonderful time to visit Rome and Italy. Being a Catholic country and the seat of the church in Rome, it’s an important time of year in the Eternal City and across the country and there are many delights and experiences that will make any trip worthwhile.

Show notes
In this episode, we talk to Maria Pasquale about Christmas in Italy, particularly in Rome where she has lived for the last 9 years. What to do, see and, of course, eat, if you chose to visit at this magical time of year.  We hear about the main fiesta days, what people do to prepare and celebrate and where in Rome to find the best Christmas decorations, markets and experiences.

Christmas is going to be a little different in 2020 but that doesn’t mean we can’t reminisce on Christmasses past and dream of those in the future. We wish you a Buon Natale and hope you find a little piece of Italian Christmas magic wherever you are in the world.

click here to subscribe to podcast updates

Italian Christmas Experiences

  • The Christmas Trees & Nativity at Piazza San Pietro – each year the tree and the nativity scene out front of the Vatican is donated by a parish from another region.
  • Wander around Travestere – Maria’s own neighborhood is a great place to feel the Christmas spirit in Rome. Go to our Best Trastevere Hotels & Accommodation for recommendations of where to stay.
  • The decorations at the Fendi store on Largo Carlo Goldoni – their decorations are always impressive and then see the whole of Via del Corso lit up before you.
  • Buy beautiful decorations in Naples  – every year, even outside of Christmas, people from all over Italy head there to pick up their artisan decorations.
  • The Christmas Markets of Northern Italy – it’s not just Germany and Switzerland that has magical Christmas markets – there are many towns in Northern Italy/in the Dolomite mountains which have enchanting Christmas markets (and why not stay in a charming nearby, snow-covered chalet).
  • Head up to Janiculum hillfor an awe-inspiring view of the city.
  • Meet the friendly Italian witch Befana – the holiday period culminates on the 6th of January. The witch brings gifts to all the children who’ve been good and coal to those that haven’t!

Italian Christmas Food

  • Panetonne – the most famous Italian Christmas treat – it never tastes as good as fresh from the local Forno or Pasticceria.
  • Panpepato – literally translating to pepper bread, this is a sweet cake with nuts and fruit, but also lots of spice.
  • Pangiallo – this yellow bread is another fruity cake with citrus peel, honey and dark chocolate, formed into a dome-shaped and brushed with a saffron glaze.


click here to subscribe to podcast updates

Rome Christmas Planning Resources

  • Romewise – Elyssa Bernard doing a great job of keeping everyone updated on what’s going on on the ground
  • Gillian’s List – Rome blog by Gillian McGuire
  • An American In Rome – An American in Rome blog by Natalie Kennedy

About our guest – Maria Pasquale

Maria Pasquale was born in Melbourne to Italian parents and has been based in Rome since 2011. With formal qualifications in political science and history, she is an award-winning food and travel journalist and writes regularly for USA Today, CNN, Condé Nast, The Telegraph and Fortune.
She is founder of the popular blog HeartRome which has readers in 100 countries and a social media following that exceeds 40,000 (@heartrome). The author of I Heart Rome (Smith Street Books), her second book How to Be Italian will be released internationally in 2021.

You can find Maria on these channels:

Maria’s books

How to Be Italian: Eat, Drink, Dress, Travel and Love La Dolce Vita

I Heart Rome: Recipes & Stories from the Eternal City

To buy How to be Italian or I Heart Rome in Australia click here.

Places mentioned in the show

  • Pasticceria Valzainhas been around since the 1920s and famous for the chocolate they hand-make on site
  • Biscottificio Innocenti – Stefania makes a wondeful Panetonne at Christmas time
  • Pasticceria Trastevere  – Maria’s local Pasticceria on Via Natale del Grande 49
  • Flavio al Velavevodetto – restaurant in Testaccio open 365 days a year
  • Roscioli Caffè – on Via dei Giubbonari near Campo de’ Fiori for maritozzo and coffee (if you’re a coffee lover unlike Maria!)
  • Da Enzo – Travestere restaurant for Roman cuisine
  • Glass Hosteria – fine-dining restaurant
  • Retrobottega – a restaurant with new and unique flavors for Rome

Resources from Untold Italy

Planning a trip to Italy?

We love travel in Italy and sharing our knowledge. Read our popular Italy trip planning guide or join our FREE Italy Travel Planning Community. Our 140,000+ members are happy to answer questions about your itinerary, how to get from place to place, the best places to stay and fun things to do.

Sign up for our news and podcast updates where we share mini guides, tips, exclusive deals and more and we'll send you our Italy Trip Planning Checklist to say grazie! >> click here to subscribe


Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.

Disclosure: Untold Italy assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please visit our disclosure page for more information.

Please share if you found this article useful