Christmas Eve in Rome

Old Nov 5th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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Christmas Eve in Rome

Hello,
My family of 4 will be in Rome for 7 nights, arriving after a week in Paris, on Christmas Eve. Our train gets in around 11:30 am, we'll check into our apartment on Via Aurelia, then we need to quickly prepare for Christmas!

Will stores or markets be open Christmas Eve? What about restaurants?

We are hoping to get tickets to Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter's and are working with our parish here to track those down.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you might have for Christmas eve and day in Rome.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 08:47 PM
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Anyone able to help?
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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Judging from other religious holidays in Rome-I think that you are going to have some problems finding anything open on Christmas Eve afternoon and beyond.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 03:43 AM
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I haven't been in Roma on Christmas Eve, but I was in Napoli once. Cafés, bars and restaurants were open till the early evening, but everything, including trams and buses, started shutting down at about seven o'clock. At nine, the streets were deserted and everywhere was shut. Some cafés and restaurants will be open on Christmas Day.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:00 AM
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This may not be applicable at the moment, because things may have changed.

But I was in Rome on Christmas Eve of 98. Believe me, at 6pm, the city is deserted, at 8pm, the entire of Rome is dead. Christmas eve is a very family thing for the Romans (and Italians I guess), so everyone was back home having dinner. In fact, as I was traveling alone, it got really depressing.

However, towards midnight, you see people slowly reappearing on the streets, heading for the churches. The crowd would gather steadily outside St Peter's and you generally feel a certain sense of anticipation.

Once you passed midnight, thereabout around 1 am when the services have ended, Rome would EXPLODE with life. Suddenly shops are opened to cater to the congregations. Hot snacks and ice cream are peddled by street vendors. The roads are noisy and chaotic again. People are walking everywhere, chatting and talking. A completely different scene from a few mere hours ago.

If you are religious, I do think you may actually enjoy it. Because for me, it somewhat symbolizes the returning of life due to the birth of Christ. Otherwise, it would still an interesting culture thing to experience.

Do be warned though, Christmas throughout Italy brings about virtual hiatus in city transportation. I.E. buses, trams, etc.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 06:29 AM
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The stores are open on Christmas Eve until around 19:30 but many of the specialty items Italians serve such as fresh fish on Christmas Eve and lamb for Christmas Day may be hard to get. If you can, contact the owner of the apartment and ask them if they know any good restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

A variety concerts (many of which are free) are held in some of Rome's most beautiful churches throughout the holidays. Not all are advertised online. The tourist information booth across from the Coliseum will have a variety of flyers and brochures.

The museums are all closed on the 25th.

www.kidscantravel.com
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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I just checked my travel notes of 1983 for my visit to Rome, so things may have changed!!! One thing for sure is that there is a new Pope.

I arrived on December 23 and got my tickets to Midnight Mass on the 24th. It was free. You go to an office at the Vatican.

I had no problem finding open trattorias for dinner.

Public transport shut down at 9PM on the 24th. I had a brisk 40 minute walk from my hotel near the train station to St. Peter's. It was full by 11PM. Mass was over at 1.40AM. It was a very impressive Latin Mass. I was warned that I would see nuns standing on their chairs to take photos of the Pope. Yes it happened, so I did it also.

As I walked back to my hotel I was amazed. Like Astaroth wrote, the city was open for business. Everybody was out in the bars and cafes drinking and having a great time. I stopped in one cafe for a sandwich and a brandy.

It took me two hours to get back to the hotel and the clerk said I was "very later." He asked if I had found the return bus and groaned when I told him I had walked.

The metro was closed all day Christmas.

There were enough trattorias open on Christmas that I didn't starve, but unfortunately the one I chose was over-priced and gave me the travelers trots and a bad night's sleep.

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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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I think you should bear in mind that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, so many stores that might otherwise be open on Christmas Eve may not be open because it is a Sunday.

A thought - if you have an apartment in Paris with a fridge, you could get some supplies in Paris on the Saturday and transport them in a coolbag with icepacks?

BTW, I just went to google and typed in 'rome supermarkets' and got several results, some with phone numbers. I would locate the ones closest to your apartment and call them. Good luck and have a great Christmas!

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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the helpful information! It quells my small worry.

Astaroth: I imagine my kids will love getting gelato at 1 am! That may help my son make it through mass

Hopscotch: Nuns on chairs?!? LOL That would be a great photo.

Julia_t - that's a very good idea. We do have a great kitchen in Paris and can easily bring things from one place to the next. My particular worry is coffee, something for breakfast on Christmas Day and basics for lunch.

It also occurs to me that the apartment owner may be able to steer us in the direction of a market when we arrive.

Thanks again everyone!



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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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Worry not about the coffee. It's espresso and it's deee-lish.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 10:15 PM
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Ah yes, I'll have the espresso thanks for the reminder!
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 11:03 PM
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When we stayed at an apartment in Rome recently there were a few things (including the all-important bottle of wine)that we requested from the apartment owner ahead of time. She was wonderful about having them ready for us and we just paid her when we arrived. Perhaps you might be able to do the same?
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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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Hi, I was thinking of traveling to Rome this Christmas Eve. I was wondering what your experience was with attending the Holy Mass at St. Peter's. Did you get tickets ahead of time? I am hearing different things, but not from anyone who has actually gone.
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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 02:57 AM
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lastoffiveokinawa,

I am hearing different things, but not from anyone who has actually gone.

Did you actually read this thread?
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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Hopscotch's experience of getting tickets for the Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter's in 1983 is not likely to be of much use in 2007. Things have changed; there are many, many (like millions) more tourists in Rome now than there were almost 25 years ago.

One possible source for tickets to Christmas Eve mass:

www.santasusanna.org
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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 07:25 AM
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From the Santa Susanna website:

"I really want a ticket to Christmas Eve Mass with the Holy Father, can you help me get one?

These tickets have become increasingly difficult to acquire over the last seven years. And no matter how many tickets we may ask for, we learn only at the very last minute, that we will recieve only a few because of the demand. So we have stopped offering tickets. Many people arrive in Rome with the expectation that they will have these tickets because they asked in advance, only to discover that the tickets are not available. Santa Susanna no longer offers this service at Christmas or Easter. It is just too painful to tell people that the tickets promised did not come through. We have our own masses in English and we spend a great deal of time preparing, so we prefer that you come and join us, if you find yourself without tickets to Saint Peter's."

It has been several years since St. Susanna could provide tickets to Easter or Christmas Masses. You may have better luck by writing to the Bishop's Office of the North American College on Via Umilita in Rome. We have received tickets to three Easter Masses from that office but have never tried for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Good luck.


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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 03:44 AM
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Last year we did Christmas Eve at the Pantheon. It was simply amazing. Forget the thousands of people that will be at St. Peters, instead there might be a hundred or so at the Pantheon. Get there before 10pm, as there is limited seating and it can get really cold.

Oh, and I am not religious, but this was something I will never forget.

dave
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