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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Holidays in Rome, Part II: Listen, Taste, See


New Year's Eve 2023 at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)

RST welcomes back guest blogger Theresa Potenza. Based in Rome, Potenza is an art historian, private tour guide, and freelance writer. To learn more about her private tours of Rome and read her travel and feature stories about Italy, check out:

This is the second of two posts - since there is so much happening in Rome over the holidays. Part I, featuring Markets, Displays, The Vatican, and Worshipping, is here. Below Potenza finishes up her great recommendations with Listen, Taste and See.

And from us at RST, Buone Feste e Buon Anno!



As part of the culture and music festival Natalè Auditorium, the Auditorium Parco della Musica has shows almost every day of the week from now (they started December 8) to January 7. 

The concert hall, an architectural masterpiece by Renzo Piano opened in 2002, is not only a concert venue but a public music complex with several concert halls and theaters. It is not to be missed on a trip to Rome, and with its endless variety of shows in December there is something for everyone.

 On Christmas Day check out the Harlem Gospel Choir, one of America’s oldest gospel choirs, made up of voices from New York City. Audience participation is encouraged. The repertoire includes traditional and contemporary gospel, jazz, and blues. A fantastic opportunity for a show that has been performed for various Popes and US Presidents. And on New Year's Day check out Tosca-Unico, a concert in three acts with excerpts from three shows.

The Harlem Gospel Choir, scheduled to perform at Parco della Musica over the holidays

For a full schedule, check out the Auditorium website:

 A great way to combine live music with sightseeing in Rome is Tram Jazz. A romantic night made up of a candle-light dinner, jazz concert, and evening tour of the historic center on an old-fashioned tram.  Check out the variety of swing, jazz, and holiday music concerts on their website, 

Tram Jazz view of the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine, 2022

For the party animals, on New Year's Eve don’t miss the largest outdoor concert in the city at Circus Maximus. Performers include Blanco, Lazza, and Francesca Michielin. Details (in Italian) on the Roma Capitale website here:



When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and feast for the holidays. The Eternal City has been named in 2023 by Travelers' Choice as the best food destination in the world. Make the most of it and try the traditional holiday menus offered in restaurants of all price ranges throughout the city. 

For an exquisite Christmas experience, Mirabelle restaurant offers some of the finest food and views in the entire city. As with most of Italy, Mirabelle offers a Christmas Eve dinner menu that is seafood based with a variety of first course and second course fish dishes including tagliatelle pasta with cuttlefish, and roasted octopus. The Christmas Day lunch menu includes fine delicacies such as foie gras, white truffle risotto, and deer filet. And you can end the year in style and abundance with the New Years Eve menu complete with oysters, lobster, pumpkin and white truffle pasta, veal filet, and even good-luck lentils at midnight! Reservations can be made on the Mirabelle website, 

The view from Mirabelle--though maybe not in December. 

If you are looking for a more casual and traditional Roman holiday meal, Casale Appio Locanda offers a fixed menu for lunch on Christmas Day that provides the option for a traditional menu or a vegetarian menu option. The traditional menu includes what most Roman families have for the holiday, cappelletti in brodo, along with fettuccine with sausage and porcini mushrooms, roasted lamb, and Roman artichokes. The vegetarian menu includes eggplant parmesan, spinach and ricotta ravioli, broccoli flan and Roman artichokes. The kids' menu offers breaded beef filets, roasted potatoes, and fettuccine bolognese. For reservations and for their menu on December 26th (also a public holiday in Italy) and New Year's Day, check out their Facebook page:

Alle Frate di Trastevere (2015 photo)

Finally, if you are desperate not to cook and prefer instead some of your home-style traditionals for the holiday, Alle Fratte di Trastevere will provide catered meals of whole roasted turkey or baked honey-ham, delicacies typically hard to find in Rome. The restaurant will also be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a traditional Roman menu a la carte. Their website in English is here:  


The Touch of Pygmalion
For those looking to consume culture, check out the Borghese Gallery, one of the top 5 tourist attractions in Rome, hosting a special exhibit on Rubens until February 2024. The exhibition, The touch of Pygmalion. Rubens and sculpture in Rome, highlights the influence of the painter on new concepts of the antique. And there's a special interactive experience for children. You will need advance tickets for a regular visit (the English tour, btw, is excellent) as well as for the children's experience. Website (in English) is here:

For a break from ancient and Renaissance art, check out the Andy Warhol exhibition, Andy Warhol Universo Warhol, on until March 2024 at the Historical Infantry Museum (Museo storico della fanteria), not far from the Termini Train Station at Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The exhibition brings to life the Pop Art genius through a collection of silk-screen prints, ceramics, legendary vinyl and magazine covers, Polaroid photos and advertising posters from public and private collections. Though the museum is usually free, this elaborate exhibition comes with a price tag. See website here in English - scroll down on that website for opening hours and links to buy tickets.  

The holiday season is also a great time to witness the spectacular light show at Rome’s Botanical Garden. The light show entitled “Trame di Luce” transforms the natural space into a fairy tale world of sensory art, light, and  music. The sensory immersion is part of an international light art festival held for the first time in Italy and on until January 8th 2024.

One of the many family-friendly exhibits in Rome to enhance your holiday spirit in a historic setting. For booking go to their website,




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