Christmas in Italy


Sep 14th, 2017, 04:14 PM
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Christmas in Italy

We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 teenagers). We are planning to spend last two weeks of December in Rome / Florence / Venice. While all our trips to Europe have been in summers, this is the first time we are contemplating going in December. However we have been getting mixed suggestions from our friends - some feel its a good time with less crowds and less tourists; other feel that its cold and will get dark early so you will get less time to spend outside, need to pack lots of layers....

We like visiting monuments, gardens, churches, local markets....... We want some feedback if December is the time to be in Italy or its better avoided.

naddy74 is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2017, 07:21 PM
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I'd go and take appropriate winter clothes. Instead of gelato every day, I'd go for hot chocolate.

This site mentions some events and exhibits that will be on in December 2017.
Jean is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2017, 09:14 PM
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We have spent the week of NYE in Italy many times and love it! Yes, it gets dark early, and it can be cold. But we have sat outside for lunches and many places will have heaters out. Plus all the Christmas lights and monuments are lit up. I think it is a great time. You can see our pics here:


Tuscany (2 times, and going again this year):

jamikins is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2017, 09:46 PM
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I was in the Bavarian region and Switzerland a couple of years ago around Christmas,specially for the Christkindlmarkt ( Christmas market).Absolutely wonderful.Its charming and magical as the festivities run up into Christmas.As darkness falls the markets radiate a beautiful glow.It is a place to buy handicrafts, glass decorations, traditional mangers and ceramics along with some great bargains.The aroma of bakes & cookies,chestnuts being roasted and the irresistible glass of Gluhwein ( mulled wine).

Starting in the last week of November most Christmas markets wind up by the 22nd of December.

Great time of the year in Europe and I'm sure Italy would be as good,though I haven't been there in December.I'm sure fodorites here will throw some light.

Take a look here...
inquest is online now  
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Sep 14th, 2017, 10:03 PM
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We did spent two weeks in Rome at Christmas in 2005. It is how I found this board. My kids were younger then--but some of my trip report might still apply.

If you don't get anything else out of it, remember that Italians are all about family. Half the taxi drivers in Rome take the holiday off, and a lot of Catholics come to Rome for Christmas. So the demand for taxis is high. If you choose to spend the holiday itself in Rome, then it would be best for Christmas day and the day after to stay in lodgings where you can walk to dinner or an activity.

I'd also suggest going to see the creches if you are in Rome. See if the creche art show I mentioned is still there. I can still visualize some of them. They were amazing.

I have also been to Rome and Florence on another trip, and my brother lived there. I can't help you with Venice.
5alive is online now  
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Sep 14th, 2017, 11:06 PM
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I spent Christmas in Venice and Rome for NYE last year. I would do it that way again. Venice is intimate and like an open air museum over Christmas.

It's not really "low season". Italians like holidays. Lots of Chinese tour groups. Plenty of Australian and European tourists as well. No cruise ships in Venice which was nice. But my point is that it's not as slow as you would expect, especially between Christmas and NYE. I would have to look at my trip report but I think it was dec 27 or so when the crowds in venice got pretty intense. The 3 days over Christmas were really laid back, and then boom. I fled the main tourist area.

Cons: closures, mostly. Food takes a little extra planning. Holidays make planning for museums a little trickier- I built in extra days because the museums I wanted to see were closed on the holidays. If you're into specialty tours, it can be frustrating. I love bike and history tours, for example, but they're infrequent over the holidays and when they do run, they may not fill up so they could get cancelled.

You need dinner reservations. You won't starve without them, but if I hadn't had them in Venice, I would have eaten crappy tourist pizza on Christmas, and I didn't have them New Year's Eve in Rome, but luckily Romans like street food and Trastevere has good bar food. If you haven't been to Italy, that is my number one tip. Reservations are so, so important.

Second tip is pre buy museum tickets, especially for Florence. I stood in some hellish lines before I figured out they were for tickets. Not entry!

Pros: weather is definitely preferable. Rome is beautiful and probably a lot more pleasant in December than in August. You're still stuck in crowds but not baking in the sun. I got a lot more walking done. I like being outside so I really liked that. It can be high water season in Venice, and I guess I got lucky, as it wasn't, but I don't think it would bother me that much. It's cold but no colder than home (seattle)- just sort of a damp chill. You have to cover your shoulders and knees for Italian churches so I actually think it's much more convenient to visit in the winter.

I overpacked. I was visiting a range of places, it was a long trip. But in rome I mailed a bunch of stuff home, and pretty much kept my scarf/hat/gloves, Columbia jacket, two sweater dresses, jeans, a fleece, leggings, and my sneakers. That takes up no more space than my summer clothing really. Most of my big suitcase was inhabited by souvenirs.

I guess the dark could impact your visit but I'm not sure how. Italians dine late. Everyone is out and about during the winter. I loved that, so different than North America. All the fountains and monuments are lit up- gorgeous.

I think the biggest thing is that I didn't do day trips. Weather was iffy so I didn't attempt Ostia antica or Pompeii. Gardens aren't all that interesting. I enjoyed Boboli but it must be much neater in the warmer months.

The crèches of Rome were astounding. Rome doesn't really seem to get into the holiday like N. Europe, except the crèches. All over the city, my favorite thing to see. I took a context tour that focused on that- basically churches that held especially valuable relics related to that, like planks for christ's manger. Who knows if they really were, right, but that just gave me chills.

(And not to contradict Jean, but gelato is a necessity. Espresso, gelato, hot chocolate, gelato...that was pretty much a typical day).
marvelousmouse is online now  
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Sep 16th, 2017, 09:15 AM
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"We like visiting monuments, gardens, churches, local markets ....... We want some feedback if December is the time to be in Italy or its better avoided."

Visit Rome is teh reason. A city full of monuments (is an open-air museum), gardens like Villa Borghese, villa Ada , Villa Pamphili and could visit the beautiful emperors villas nearby the city (Villa Adriana and Villa D'Este of Tivoli). Churches? more then 900!!!
Local markets very famos is in "Campo de' Fiori" and the bombastic "Portaportese road"

December is definitely a great month to visit your chosen places
NICHOLAS81 is offline  
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Sep 17th, 2017, 03:25 AM
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All three cities are wonderful in December. I didn't think it was too cold even the first two weeks of January. I do not like being in Europe in the summer time, too hot, too crowded.
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Sep 17th, 2017, 06:59 AM
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I spent 10 days in Rome over the Christmas holiday. I loved it, as mouse and cafe said, the city is less crowded (though after the 25th heading into NY I did see an increase in crowds) and the atmosphere is magical. I was lucky that it wasn't really cold (jacket, sweater, jeans) and with a bit of planning found restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Also check the dates for the museums you want to be visit - you may be surprised. I went to the Borghese on Christmas Eve during the afternoon. If you like markets, check out ones like Trionfale (near the vatican) you will find yourself shopping amongst the locals and the prices so much more reasonable than Campo di Fiori- it is an experience.
bella9440 is online now  
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Sep 17th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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Everyone is giving you good advice. Bella, I agree about the dates. You really do have to check your sites to see what's closed. We found more closed the day after Christmas than we did on Christmas Eve.

Also if you don't get to my report--we did go to Ostia Antica 4 days before Christmas and it was a good day. We had nearly the whole place to ourselves.
5alive is online now  
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Sep 17th, 2017, 09:17 PM
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It sounds fabulous, so much nicer than the blazing heat of summer.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 05:27 AM
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we did this trip with our boys when they were 16 and 18. greatest trip. a week in venice over Christmas. and 10 days in Rome over NY. a bit of day tripping, but like to settle in a VRBO and explore.

a bit chilly in Venice, but crowds were low and the decorations superb. great weather in Rome, 50-60's. festive atmosphere and Christmas decor still up.

highly recommend it.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 05:41 AM
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Just so you know, it can be quite cold in both Florence and Venice at Christmas time. Freezing cold. In Venice, the water tends to warm things back up, but Florence can get socked with a freeze than lingers, and both cities can get biting winds.

You might have lovely weather, but just before you go, check some weather forecast sites to see nighttime temps, and remember it gets dark earlier.

Waterproof shoes & WARM socks and clothes that keep your lower legs warm really help make outdoor winter sightseeing less tiring. Italy is also a rather drafty place, so if you don't have nice warm scarves to wrap around your neck, budget for buying some once you arrive. Knit caps always come in handy.
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