By Danielle Russo
Perhaps best of all about visiting Rome at the holidays (certainly not the weather, December can be close to freezing) is the experience of the wonderful and exuberant traditions of an Italian Christmas which can be seen all across the city.
Piazza Navona, one of Rome's most popular squares becomes a center stage during the holiday season. A Christmas market is set up here which includes all sorts of games, candy and toys for children as well as holiday crafts, artists and food for the adults. Children here get their stockings for the "Befana" also known as the good little witch which brings candy to the kids on the day of the epiphany. Even Santa makes his special appearance here.
On the other hand, the Vatican becomes the magical setting during the holiday season. Every year a nativity scene is created and unveiled on Christmas Eve. Pilgrims from all over the world are drawn to Rome just to admire it. Aside from the nativity, a tree is also placed in the center of St. Peter's square that measures about 30 meters (100 feet). This tradition was originated by Pope John Paul II in 1982 and since then, it's been a gift from one of Italy's regions or an E.U. nation.
Midnight mass takes place on Christmas Eve and is given by the Pope at St. Peter's Basilica. If you are fortunate enough to obtain tickets for this grand event, it is truly a special one to enjoy. Without the tourist crowds or long lines, you can truly take in the traditional beliefs of this holiday from one of the most important places of worship in the world of Christianity.
Article contributed by Danielle Russo of When In Rome Tours WhenInRomeTours.com, Experts in Vatican Tours and Rome sightseeing Private-Tours since 1999.
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