Italy over Christmas - are things open?

Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 02:11 PM
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Italy over Christmas - are things open?

We are contemplating planning a fairly last minute trip to Italy, likely Florence and Rome, from Dec 23 - Jan 1. We've never been at that time of year. I realize that everything will be closed Christmas day, but museums seem to be open the rest of the time. What we can't tell is whether stores and restaurants are generally open over this period (other than Christmas day) or do people close their businesses up for a break as many do in August? Any advice would be much appreciated.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Lots of them close - family owned businesses and others. But there will be enough places open. Look out for NYE - eat dinner very early if you want to eat a regular meal, if they serve one at all - by 7PM or 8PM they will switch over to the festive menu.

And the next morning, good luck in finding breakfast - the ubiquitous panettone, some bananas, and our portable teamaker (an immersion heater for 240-Volt operation) kept us going one year in Florence.

Also - you'll hear a lot of firecrackers go off well into the night.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 03:13 PM
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We found plenty of shops, stores and restaurants open. Dinner on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve absolutely required a reservation and formal attire. Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations for dinner. It seemed that many families frequented certain restaurants at the holidays, as we noticed the staff cheerfully greeting old friends and relatives in several restaurants on these evenings.

Ditto on the firecrackers!

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Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 03:40 PM
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We usually go to Rome for Christmas, but sadly, not this year. Anyway, there is lots of stuff open and things to do prior to Christmas. On Christmas eve there are plenty of small cafes and restaurants open.

While no sites are open on Christmas, there is so much free stuff to see and do you won't be bored. Navonna's carnival is always fun. You will also find a fair number of cafes and small shops open, if you look.

NYE, if you don't book in advance you can usually get a good quick meal before 7 pm at many restaurants.

NY day is kind of like Christmas day, but there is still lots to see and do that is freely accessible.

Other than that, you can count on most things being open.

Now, a little secret that some of us share on this board. If you are in Rome on the 24th, don't go to St. Peters, instead go to the Pantheon for midnight mass. It is amazing and only a few hundred may show up.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 09:48 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses!
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Old Nov 24th, 2008, 06:03 AM
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Christmas eve is a wonderful experience in Rome. People in the streets wandering about the neighborhoods, Piazza Navona is wonderland of light with families walking about eating cotton candy. Many of the churches open their doors about 9P for music and the interior is full of candle light.

Do see if San Ignazio just past Pantheon has a service -- that is very traditional.

Across Tiber, Trastevere is all ablaze Christmas Eve with lights and trattorias and ristorante will welcome you to join them.

Travelers tip: the day after Christmas is Feast of St. Steven and everything is closed. It can be very difficult to find place to eat.

Make a reservation for Christmas day lunch. But things will close that night.
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Old Nov 24th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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I was in Rome over Christmas in 2006. Christmas Eve was the hardest for finding a restaurant. The churches are open on Christmas Day, and many have special presepi (nativity scenes) up for the season. For more on Rome at Christmas, here is my trip report:
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Old Nov 24th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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hi gerald,

when I was looking at this before, I found a web-site that gives the opening hours of all the main tourist sights and nearly all of them were open except on 25th December itself.

one way round the closed restaurant problem is to rent an apartment and do a bit of self-catering - as you are arriving on 23rd, you could shop on the 24th.

we did this at easter in Venice and it was great. we really splashed out for Easter sunday lunch and it cost a fraction of the same meal in a restaurant.

Have a great trip,

regards, ann
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