Rome is fabulous in winter. The Eternal City wakes from its tourist-larded summer slumber, spreads its arms and says, “Now people, wake up and enjoy!”
Walk toward the Piazza Campo dei Fiori from the right direction and you might see a man slicing and handing out samples of Mortadella during the evening stroll. Suck the color from the photo and the scene becomes timeless, almost Felliniesque.
And if you go to the campo in the morning, you might see a bucket of my favorite winter salad “green”, the wonderful Puntarelle, reminding us of spring but not quite. It’s one of the things I can’t wait to eat in Rome between winter and spring. In the bucket the leaves have been stripped and the shoots soaked in cold water until they curl. When they’re dried off they’re ready for the oil and anchovies Romans dress them with. It’s ready for you to take a handful to your vacation apartment and make the salad yourself.
Near the campo is the famous Piazza Navona. There’s a Christmas and Epiphany Market going on, mostly for kids, yet there’s another chance to catch the Filliniesque, this time in living color:
You might think that those festivals featuring folks decked out in medieval garb only happen for tourists in the summer. You would be mistaken. In winter, folks are astounded to know that they’re being photographed. They thought it was the season in which they got to do their own photography. In any case, there’s still pomp and circumstance in around the Vatican.
But Rome is Cold and Wet in the Winter!
Oh, yes, it can be, well, wintery in Rome. But when you’re feeling a chill under your overcoat, you might head for a bakery. Antico Forno in piazza Campo De’ Fiori even has a television so you can feel at home, as long as you get your kicks watching bakers at work. You can get a panino at the Antico Forno as well. Or you can get two or more panini. You can’t get a panini any more than you can get a sandwiches. It’s just the way things are.
Around Christmas in Rome
As the Christmas season rolls around perhaps it’s time to roll on over to the doll shop to get a replacement eyeball or something for that recalcitrant daughter or odd son on your list. Although some folks find dolls almost as creepy as clowns, you can get just about anything from a Roman doll store. Go crazy.
And then there is the presepi circuit. The Italian version of nativity scenes and creches featuring Italians doing what Italians do, and often including motion and light shows, is one of Italy’s most endearing holiday habit. There are big ones like that of Santi Cosma e Damiano church, shown below, and others. Here’s a list of select Nativity Scenes in Italy. It doesn’t feature the one I like—put on by the antiquities police. Known as Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, during Christmas season you can request permission to enter their lair in Palazzo Sant’Ignazio and see the presepe that the locals all want to see every year.
See more on Christmas in Rome from Bindu Trips.
Should You Go to Rome in Winter?
This is a question I can’t answer. I enjoyed it very, very much. You need to take worm and water resistant clothes, of course. Some days will be amazingly clear and bright, but other times it may be rainy and cold. Here is a link to some historic climate charts and weather for Rome throughout the year.
Where should you stay in Rome? We have a map of Rome neighborhoods that will inform you of what each neighborhood offers.
For a general guide to Italy in winter, see Visiting Italy in Winter
I hope you’ve enjoyed these illustrated notes of Rome in Winter.