(click on pictures to enlarge)
Merry Christmas to all my readers or as they say here in Rome, Buon Natale.
This is our second Christmas in Rome and like rituals in all cities, many things are the same such as the Christmas trees in the major Piazzas. One of my favourites is this smaller one in Piazza Lucina just off the Via del Corso where there a lovely atmosphere, with people out taking their dogs for a walk or sitting in cafes.
Walking across St. Peter’s Square (which I do often since we live in the area) is breathtaking with the 83 ft tall Christmas tree and St. Peter’s Basilica lit up behind it.
The only large Piazza which does not have a Christmas tree is Piazza Barberini. Instead, there is a giant Menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. For such a catholic country, its nice to see homage being paid to the Jewish community which has been here since Roman times.
All the churches have a Presepio or Nativity scene but the baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The Presepio in front of St. Peter’s is actually out in the Piazza and is very large. This is just a detail of the actual manger.
The whole month of December was filled with Christmas concerts in various churches. Classical or sacred music for the most part with choirs, quartets and organ. The choir that I sing with gave its recital last Sunday. Weeks of practice and about 40 minutes or less of singing but I enjoyed the process.
Christmas markets have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now and though the stalls are all selling the same stuff, scarves, bags, jewellery and such, I like this one in Prati which is festive at night.
One market I like going past is the flower section of Campo de’ Fiori. At this time of year, the predominant colour is red including berries, rose hips and bunches of deep crimson chillies which must be sold for decoration as the vegetable vendors also have bunches of red chillies.
The shopping streets are crammed with people. You would never know that there is an economic depression. The lights on Via del Corso represented flags of all the countries. A great concept but it didn’t really work as the lights don’t quite succeed in representing the details of the more complicated flags.
Largo Goldoni which marks the junction at Via del Corso and Via Condotti, is home to the Fendi store. This year, the front was decorated in a rather tacky way with the signature Christmas tree made up of bags outside as usual.
For those who have money to burn, the store featured this peach coloured mink coat for Eur 18,000! Rather appalling I thought given that people can’t get jobs and this represents half of some people’s salaries.
Luckily, most can afford the traditional after dinner Christmas sweet: Panetone, a very light sweet bread with raisins and citrus peel or Pandora which is more like a very light sponge cake. Both are eaten after dinner with a white wine or Prosecco. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve is called La Vigilia and traditionally, people eat fish. On Christmas day, different regions have different traditional fare. In Rome, it is often lamb. We are staying with the stuffed bird tradition.
For those who enjoy Christmas, I hope it is all you wish for. For those who don’t, it will all be over very soon!