Things to do in Rome this Winter
The Eternal City. Few places in the world have a reputation like Rome, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and culturally stimulating cities on Earth, at all times of the year. As December arrives however, and with it the crisp tranquility of winter, Rome comes to life in a completely new way. Here are some of the most exciting, enjoyable, and inspiring things to do in Rome this winter.
See Rome at its most 'Roman':
Rome certainly plays host to a beauty and aesthetic quite unlike anywhere else, but this means that during popular summer months, the city is incredibly busy. During the winter, fewer tourists visit the city, making it the perfect time to experience Rome at its most authentic. The streets and shops are decorated with a charming festive flair, which rather than targeting mass-market sensibilities, creates a far more humble and enjoyable experience.
Whatever you decide to do during your stay, you're far less likely to encounter the same queues and crowds that are present earlier in the year. This doesn't necessarily mean having to settle for poor weather either, as daytime temperatures often range between 10 and 14 degrees celsius, with only 9 days of rain on average in December.
Have a winter ice skating experience:
Ice skating is a popular winter pursuit the world over, and while it might not seem like an obvious thing to do in Rome, during December there are several rinks available throughout the city.
In the past ice rinks have been set up at 'Grinzing Village' - set to the backdrop of the incredible Castel Sant'Angelo - and at other locations such as the Parco Della Musica (along with a delightful festive market). If you do decide to indulge in some classic winter ice skating, it's worth checking which locations will be offering the experience in the city, but there are also some permanent fixtures like Ice Village you can visit.
Try some seasonal cuisine:
Authentic Italian food is some of the best in the world, and during the winter months, visitors to Rome can experience some exceptional seasonal fare. Indoor markets, (ideal if it does happen to rain), offer all kinds of fresh produce, which local restaurants use to prepare some winter delicacies.
One must-try dish is 'Carciofi alla Romana', which is made from steamed artichokes. The particular type of artichoke used to make this is only grown during the winter months, and many restaurants capitalise on this, offering their own versions of the dish.
December is also chicory season, and from November through February the puntarelle - a particular type of chicory revered in Roman cuisine - is freshly harvested to make 'Puntarelle alla Romana', a salad made by curling and chilling the stems of this member of the chicory family, then serving it with anchovies, garlic, vinegar and olive oil.
Purchase some designer goods in the winter sales:
Rome is also well-known for its lack of large chain stores, and the small boutique shops found across Rome take on a new charm during winter.
If you're visiting in late winter, and in particular early January, then you can also capitalise on the end-of-season sales. These are heavily regulated in Italy, and only take place twice each year. Considering the number of boutique designers who are based in Italy, this could be a fantastic opportunity to purchase some truly spectacular designer goods - keep and eye out for the phrase 'Saldi' ('sales' in Italian), and be aware that prices continue to drop throughout the season.
Some particular places to keep your eyes peeled for end-of-season steals include the designer boutiques found on Via Condotti, and the Piazza de Spagna which is home to well-known brands including Prada, and Fendi.
Experience some authentic Roman history:
Rome is home to some of the most iconic cultural landmarks in the world, many of which can be best enjoyed during the quiet winter months. The Vatican, The Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and the many other attractions that are frequently regarded as Rome's crowning attractions; The Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo's iconic painted roof, is usually far less busy during December, and while it's unlikely you'll have it to yourself (unless you make the trip early in the morning, at around 9am), you'll still be able to enjoy it in relative peace.
Other examples of Rome's historic architecture include the many Basilicas found in the city, the Spanish Steps (where your luxury apartment in Rome happens to be based), and the iconic 18th Century Trevi Fountain.
Enjoy a cultural experience:
During winter there are plenty of opportunities to experience the arts, but particularly notable is the start of the annual opera season.
Each year in November, at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma (Opera Theatre of Rome), the season commences. In 2017, this will occur with Ludwig Minkus' ballet 'Don Chisciotte', and will continue throughout the coming months. December's highlight is Hector Berlioz's iconic opera 'La damnation de Faust', first performed in 1846.
For something a little less traditional, you could explore one of the city's more contemporary venues. Jazz clubs such as Big Mama offer visitors a chance to relax and experience some intimate and unforgettable jazz and blues, but book ahead - tables are limited and the club is extremely popular.
Attend a winter event:
Rome also plays host to several exciting events throughout the winter, many of which only take place between December and January. On the 8th of December, to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Piazza di Spagna, the Roman fire brigade place a ladder against Mary's Column, and then place a wreath over her outstretched arm. The event is an enjoyable spectacle, and is even attended by the Pope.
When it comes to New Years' Eve, Rome also offers visitors an unforgettable experience. As evening descends, the Piazza del Popolo plays host to a free concert and an extravagant fireworks display. Set against the stunning Roman skyline, this is a New Years' Eve display unlike any other.
For a slightly more festive, from the middle of December to the first week of January, the Piazza Navano is the site of a classic christmas fair, which is dedicated to the 'old witch', La Befana. As the fair comes to a close on the 5th of January, La Befana makes a special appearance, meaning this is an event the children will particularly enjoy.
If you have a penchant for designer goods and fashion, you could also attend AltaRomAltaModa. This multiple venue, biannual event is a key moment in the Roman fashion calendar. Taking place over 5 days in January (and later in July), the upcoming collections by Rome's very finest designers are previewed, with an assortment of international talent regularly making an appearance.