Luckily the guards let you leave to use the bathroom (men's had no line, women’s was easily 100 people deep) and return provide I had my ticket. I didn't make dinner reservations as most restaurants close by 11:00pm and I wasn't sure what time we'd get out. At the end, the Pope walks down the aisle with the baby Jesus and places him in the nativity scene. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with assembling the first manger scene in 1223. The road is closed to traffic. Culture I was surprised by the last part of the drive. In the past we had taken the Circumvesuviana from Naples. Rick Steves: Europe's best Christmas traditions. Rick Steves' European Christmas: Italy. On our way out, we passed by Pizza della Signoria. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and went to bed that night having experienced something we'll remember forever. For anyone visiting Civita di Bagnoregio next year, check the calendar and try to visit on the Christmas Weekends if they host the market again. Google the name for information. This topic has been automatically closed due to a period of inactivity. Unfortunately, the cover (there are four sides and a cover) was in Milan. They had a life size photo in its place. There was not a lot of coordinated information and certainly not anything like the organization in the Rick Steves books specific to the holidays. Rick doesn't give much time to Salerno in his book so I wasn't sure what to expect. We then proceeded to walk the site. The ultimate manger scene is back on Rome's ultimate square — St. Peter's is where the pope celebrates Midnight Mass each Christmas Eve. If I were visiting again, I would plan to arrive at 5:00pm and spend 3 hours just walking around. This was a special exhibit that was open on Christmas Day featuring 100 of them. When we finally reached Sorrento, there was a big celebration happening. I especially appreciated your detailed description of your family's participation at the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. Inside Rick Steves Italy 2020 you'll find:. We saw (and recorded) the Pope walk up and down the aisle. Thank you, Aloha Joe, for posting your wonderfully concise and well-written trip report. We had a great New Year’s Eve dinner at Buca Mario (the Peter Lugar of Florentine steak) and got to bed reasonably early as we flew home the next morning. (Men throwing cake and speaking in Italian.). Still a good stop and Volterra was a reminder of what we like about the hill towns. Contributor. And here in the capital of Catholicism, each Christmas lovingly constructed manger scenes, called presepi, pop up all over town. Created with Sketch. We decided the best strategy was to forgo the view during service in favor of getting a better seat near the aisle to see the Pope process and recess. Just follow the main highway into the center of town and keep driving until you’re near the water. Catherine, Aloha Joe Aloha, I enjoyed your report about your family visit to Italy over the holidays! This is where the trip planning started to get a little tricky. My experience was if your child looks (and acts) young, you will be asked for ID. It takes the reader on a journey across Europe to reveal the food, decorations, songs, and celebrations of its many countries. (photo: Rick Steves) Families enjoy Piazza Navona's Christmas market. I then called my wife and two other kids to come meet us. The next day we took a drive from Sorrento to my ancestor's hometown of San Potito Ultra and stopped in Salerno on the way home. We'd been to Pompeii a few years back and thought this would be a good follow on. The next morning I woke up and rented a car at Roma Termini and drive back to the apartment to pick up the family for our trip to Orvieto then Siena. Rick Steves' European Christmas. We spent the next few days taking a cooking class, seeing sights we missed the last time we visited and buying keepsakes. We were in Pompeii in June a few years back. A note about the Scavi tour. The directions say to go to the gate on the left side of the Vatican. It felt as though we were the only tourists. The next morning was Christmas Eve. What I didn't count on was our apartment being inside the ZTL. Christmas in Italy. European Christmas DVD. To celebrate the season, I’m sharing clips, extras, and behind-the-scenes notes from Rick Steves’ European Christmas. We have a friend whose family owns a Christmas decorations distributorship near Venice. We toured the Christmas market stalls, walked the main drag, and had trouble but finally found the Luci d' Artista Christmas lights display then drove back to Sorrento for dinner. Others said they had kids as young as 12 attend and no one asked. It was a wild ride for about 10 minutes. Be ready for a mad scramble for seats but once the service starts, it’s pretty civilized. From there, the road twists and turns, almost like the Amalfi coast road. I can't stress enough how much better the experience is walking an uncrowded site in 60 degree weather. We followed the GPS in the car and ended up on the south side of the main strip where the entrance and museum are located. There was some local festival going on the weekend after Christmas and New Year’s. $9.99. Over the next nine months, I researched as best I could to put together an itinerary that would let us experience Christmas the way Italians do in a number of different cities and towns. I also really dislike the flag bearing tour groups to the point it ruins the experience for me. The festivities, while low-key, are memorable. Does anybody have experiences and suggestions as to what goes on in Italy at this time? St. Francis knew that by putting Jesus in a place people would recognize - their own neighborhood — the faithful could relate more easily to the story of his birth. To request tickets, google "vatican christmas mass tickets". That night we had dinner with friends who flew in at a restaurant near the Trevi Fountain, tossing a few coins on the way hoping to return again someday. Walking around the town with the Christmas decorations was magical. The mass started at 9:30pm. People continued to arrive for the next hour or so until all the seats were filed. He was right. Dress warm as St Peters is cold during the service. This is home of the Vatican City… headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and some of Europe's most sacred Christmas traditions. Rome. These jovial friends are playing an old game. I faxed in my request in March and a few weeks later I received what looks like a hand typed letter notifying me I had five tickets reserved for me and with instructions on how to pick them up. As it happended, there was a restaurant about a block from our apartment (Osteria dell' Anima) that was still open that invited us in as we walked past. Our tour guide let us out in the grotto under the alter. Almost. We happened upon a special treat at Civita di Bagnoregio. Christmas in Italy. As it happened, it was a Sunday evening and all the locals were out celebrating. It really is a special time to be there. I had also come across a Christmas light display in Salerno that was supposed to be one of the best in southern Italy. Excellent food, very reasonable prices. Jump to bottom. The highlight is the Tomb of the Diver. Local and authentic. As anywhere, Christmas in Rome is a time of giving. 4.5 out of 5 stars 210. I hadn't thought about the ZTL when I booked the car. In Rome, from Piazza Navona’s Christmas market to the ultimate manger scene in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, the city was bursting with Christmas traditions . Our Rick Steves Tour in Italy will end on Dec. 24 in Rome. Rick Steves Italy tours provide the best value for your trip to Europe. I had booked the Vatican scavi tour (the tour under the Vatican where you see the bones of St Peter) for 3:30pm and I also needed to pick up tickets for Christmas Eve mass. The church on the main drag was building their outdoor nativity scene and celebrating with some food and wine. While providing a bright spot in this grandma's day, the child experiences the joy of giving. American travel authority Rick Steves guides viewers through his favorite European cities. Children ask Babbo Natale for gifts. 20-Year Anthology DVD Box Set. It all began nine month earlier with the idea of spending Christmas in Italy. The entire town was full of people, all locals. I like that there aren't too many tourists in Rome during that time as well. I had made lunch reservations which was very smart as everyone who didn't was scrambling to find a restaurant. ©2021 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy. It must have been quite a party that night! There was a line of Christmas market stalls that line Lungomare Trieste along the shoreline that spans about 15 blocks. Also especially important for Christmas Eve and Christmas day are restaurant reservations. Orvieto was the same atmosphere. A tip for anyone who ends up standing. I loved your very detailed report. The next day we left Sorrento headed for Paestum. It was a wonderful experience. Tour Account › Travel Forum › Home / Travel Forum / Italy / Christmas in Italy; Please sign in to post. Included are 14 complete live concert performances of music. $9.99 . Some people in the standing room area knew this was going to happen and started heading over there before the service ended. This was a weekend night and the concierge said that it is crowded on weekends but not weekdays. Rick Steves' European Christmas DVD provides a vivid and authentic portrait of how Europeans celebrate the holiday from England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps. It was very cold and in the clouds the entire time. At the west end a few block in is the Villa Comunale di Salerno Park where the Luci d' Artista Christmas lights display is. We would start in the south and end in the north, flying into Naples and out of Florence. On Christmas Day we woke up, exchanged a few small presents and headed out for lunch and then to Piazza Popolo by way of Trevi Fountain. Italy, home of Vatican City and the Catholic Church, celebrates Christmas with manger scenes, sacred music, special foods (such as eel for dinner), and holiday markets. This time our itinerary would take us to places we hadn't been such as Ercolano, Salerno, Paestum and a small town where my great grandparents were from, San Potito Ultra. ‎Show Rick Steves' European Christmas (video), Ep Part 5: Italy - Dec 8, 2006 ‎From Piazza Navona's Christmas market to the ultimate manger scene in front of St. Peter's Basilica, the city of Rome bursts with Christmas traditions. When the time came, my son and I left our apartment at 6:00pm for the Vatican. We walked among the crowd, watched the parade, ate pizza at Da Franco and enjoyed our first night in Italy. The drive hugs the outer walls of Paestum and gives you an idea of just how big the site is. Then comes the Feast of St. Nicholas is on December 6th, Santa Lucia day is on the 13th. Sorrento was much less crowded the second night and most shops closed by 9:00pm. I haven't been to southern Italy yet, and you included some great tips. At the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, tables have replaced pews and the poor are enjoying a feast prepared and served by the community. For centuries, pilgrims have hiked from all over Christendom to this great city. And Europeans don't wrap things up on December 25th. You've included a lot more information and impressions than I've seen here before, on that subject. I've been wanting to plan a trip during Christmas break and was considering Vienna etc, however based on your descriptions I think Italy would be perfect! I am taking notes as one of my travel dreams is to spend Christmas in Rome. Join Rick and his team of travel-savvy teachers every Monday night on Zoom as we explore Europe (and beyond) together. People were reaching and grabbing their partners. This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. I'm glad I did as the tickets go quick and it was a truly phenomenal experience. $14.99. Enjoy all of Rick Steves' TV shows on DVD, Travel as a Political Act as an 8-CD audio book, music from Rick Steves' European Christmas on CD, and special DVD/book gift sets! A tip for anyone visiting Paestum. From the Mediterranean to the Alps, from fine art to fine pasta, experience Italy with Rick Steves! In retrospect it would have been nice to spend another day in Sorrento but we had a limited amount of time and Paestum was a stop I didn't want to miss. After an hour, The Vatican security started to motion that they were about to let people though the first gate. The tickets are free so if you are at all considering going, just fax in the request so you don't regret it later. Religion We finally sat down around 7:30pm about five seats from the Aisle about 2/3 of the way back. Thanks! The tour was excellent and well worth it. We used Siena as a base for the next few days. When we visited a few years back, we were able to tour their displays and it was clear that the Italians go to great lengths to decorate and celebrate Christmas. DVD-ROM Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary. And Europeans don't wrap things up on December 25th. Luckily the ZTL was not in effect on Saturday morning so I was able to drive right in. We had been to Sorrento during tourist season and the size of the crowds on this night were similar but the atmosphere was completely different. We arrived in Naples airport around noon. The spirit of charity is especially alive in this neighborhood, which has come together for a special holiday meal. ? From England to Wales, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, you'll see the bright Christmas markets, hear local choirs, share holiday traditions with families…and even play in the snow. The 12 days of Christmas stretch from the 25th through January 6th, that’s Epiphany, the day the Three Kings finally delivered the gifts. These children are flip-flopping the gift-giving tradition. (photo: Rick Steves) I find the holiday season in Rome a joy: crisp air, stylish big-city Italians cupping hot cappuccinos in corner cafés, and hurried shoppers bundled up with panache, thoughtfully pausing at grand manger scenes. I like this report even better now that you've consolidated it into one thread - thanks for making the effort, it's much more readable now. I had read about how nice it was to visit Pompeii and Ercolano off season and I can say it is really nice. We stopped at Tenuta Vannulo, the one where they supposedly massage the cows and have them sleep on mattresses. We had purchase food at the local grocery store earlier. The small roads in and out and constant traffic made getting off the peninsula a little more time consuming than we anticipated. The nativity is at the entrance on the left as you face the altar. Here at the 15th century abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, reclusive monks celebrate their faith in a timeless fashion… as if one with the communities they serve. I understand why Rick is so down on San Gimignano. It very well may be the best trip of your life. Rick Steves' new edition of his classic European Christmas book will be a hit with his fans and an eye-opener for those not familiar with his work. Can't do Christmas yet, as my parents claim they're too old to travel to Europe again, so we'll spend that time with them as long as we can. Rick Steves' European Christmas gives viewers a look at sacred, intimate family Christmas traditions. Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on Italy. Italy. We made a quick visit to Santa Maria in Laterna and headed back to the apartment to get ready for midnight mass (which is actually at 9:30pm). Paperback $10 ... Rick Steves' Europe: Italy's Cities, Italy's Countryside, Spain & Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Israel & Egypt (4 DVDs: 27 Episodes) by Rick Steves | Jan 1, 2007. We spent the rest of the day enjoying Rome. Christmas With Rick Steves, Andreas Clemens, Georg Reichlmayr, Holger Zimmer. At about 9:00pm, all the lights were turned on inside the Basilica. As I researched further, I came to realize that there were a lot of activities unique to the holiday period in the different areas and towns but no single source of information that listed out all (or most) of the festivities or anything close to a how to guide. The next day was empty and most shops were closed by 9:00pm. We'd use Sorrento as a home base for the few days we were staying. We were able to climb the tower with no wait. We had a fun late night dinner in a small local restaurant where the owner was also the waiter, chef and dish washer. $49.99. Perhaps even stay the night. keywords Bottles, trash, debris everywhere. I grabbed my 13 year old son and held on. A few tips for anyone thinking of going to Christmas Eve service. As host, writer, and producer of the popular and long-running American Public Television series Rick Steves' Europe, and through his travel books, he encourages Americans to become what he calls "temporary locals." Then we arrived in Florence. It gets dark around 5:00pm and that's when all the shops, people and lights come out. Finally we made it through and got to the second gate where things were a little more civilized. Maybe have dinner. And in this town the people are doing a dress rehearsal for a precepio vivente, or, living nativity. If you have been to Olympia, it is a similar experience except the ruins are in better shape but the Olympia museum is more informative. Our daughter is spending the year studying abroad in Florence, Italy and we have plans to visit her over Christmas break. When it comes to a festa, Italians like to buy fresh and local… and lucky Romans enjoy an abundance of farmers' markets. It was so bright and so clear. 12/21/2015 01:41pm EST | Updated December 21, 2016. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email. It was a good history lesson for the kids who really liked the coffee mugs of the "fat" St Francis. There were a few local activities happening that we stumbled onto. Find everything you need for packing — and planning your dream trip to Europe. Explore Italy! It could very well be the best trip you ever make. I had read about Rome and the precepe (nativity) scenes everywhere and of course Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican. (Girl giving treat, kissing woman, speaking in Italian. Rick Steves. I had made a lunch reservation at a local place not far away (il Clementini). By the afternoon, everyone was out walking and everything was open. We have 4 weeks. While researching I had read that the town of Sorrento decorates itself quite well over the holidays. by Rick Steves and Valerie Griffith | Aug 27, 2013. Jump to bottom. It was smaller than Pompeii, better preserved and was nearly empty for our 2 hour visit in very comfortable 60 degree weather. There was a huge Christmas tree in the town center and all the streets were adorned with lights and decorations. For centuries this lively square, Piazza Navona, has hosted a boisterous village-like holiday market that stays busy until Epiphany in January. I didn't know what Christmas was like in Italy but just the idea of being in Europe and near the Vatican on Christmas seemed interesting. Shop Rick's Travel Store. The lighting of the fires is a signal to villagers - dressed as shepherds - to come and sing old carols. You exit the tunnels in the charming town of Seiano. 2021. The guards were yelling "no spingere" (don't push) but it had no effect. The idea is to toss the panforte, the local fruitcake, close to the edge of the table without having it slide off. We stayed in Sorrento because we love Sorrento but as a base to visit Salerno and Paestum, it wasn't the perfect location. We woke up the next morning and took in Rome. Hopefully this report can be a source of information and encouragement for anyone considering being in Italy at Christmas time. Posted by Kristin (Hutchinson, MN, USA) on 07/22/12 05:31 PM. My Account . As for the entrance, this is where we almost got tripped up. Our next stop was Florence by way of San Gimignano and Volterra. I had researched that Salerno had a great Christmas light display (Luci d' Artista) and a Christmas market along the shoreline. They were a little disappointed to find out he didn't really look like that. We drove to Siena stopping in Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio. For anyone contemplating visiting Italy over the holidays I would say do not hesitate. The 12 days of Christmas stretch from the 25th through January 6th, that’s Epiphany, the day the Three Kings finally delivered the gifts. These two facts along with my desire to see Paestum put the Naples area on my list. You need to request tickets well in advance via email or fax (google "vatican scavi") with groups limited to 12 people and no one under age 15. It had a few more tourists but was still uncrowded and welcoming. Domes and ancient obelisks still serve as markers lacing together relics and sacred stops, including the tomb of St. Peter — marked by the greatest dome anywhere. To celebrate the season, I’m sharing clips, extras, and behind-the-scenes notes from Rick Steves’ European Christmas. $20.00. Thinking of travelling to Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. Hopefully this report can be a source of information and encouragement for anyone considering being in Italy at Christmas time. In Italy, on Epiphany, La Befana, a popular Christmas witch, flies over … Between visiting their manger scenes and Christmas witches, many Italians are shopping for their big Christmas Eve dinner. Since then in the creative teaching style of St. Francis, manger scenes often put Bethlehem in a local context. My wife showed up around 8:30pm and said the security line was still long. You need to request ticket far in advance. It looked like a warzone. Once you pass Pompeii, the route veers to the right and enter a series of tunnels. Outside of Rome, in villages in regions such as Tuscany, Christmas celebrations are a little more rustic. Contemporary The tickets are distributed by the Swiss Guards at the Bronze Doors just after you pass security to enter the St Peters. We started the day with a visit to the Capitoline Museums and Trajan's Market. Possibly the best meal I had in Italy. It was early Saturday morning and there wasn't much traffic. We relaxed, people watched the locals and then headed for our train in Naples. Like Rick say's it's worth an hour. Being in Ercolano and feeling like you have the place to yourself really gives you a different, more immersive experience. The faithful believe the original planks from Jesus' crib are in this ornate container. There were nativity scenes made of macaroni, paper, wood blocks, some very elaborate. Two blocks in from the shoreline is the main drag. Another note. In this case, we rented a car and drove south stopping at Ercolano. Steves advocates independent travel. A word of advice, don't rent a car and drive back into the city. I had also read about Florence and how it was a good location for New Years. It's a reminder that through the ages Italy's humble shepherds entertained the faithful as they gathered by fires to warm themselves and await the arrival of Christmas. Rick Steves' European Christmas gives viewers a look at sacred, intimate family Christmas traditions. They're delivering another Christmas treat — panettone - a rich brioche made with raisins and citrus — to older folks who have no family nearby. We just returned from a two week trip to Italy over the Holidays. The other piece of advice I got was to stay near the Vatican as after the service, taxis are few and far between. Rick Steves' Europe. By the time we got out of the Vatican it was 11:30pm. During a busy season that sometimes feels overwhelming, village life can be refreshingly simple. Lesson learned, don't rent a car and then try to drive in the city. The vast basilica was packed, the pope seemed radiant, and our cameraman put our viewers right in the front pew. We caught the Frecciarossa to Rome, arriving around 8:30pm. People had already started arriving in the square to watch the service on the large monitors. To celebrate the season, I’m sharing clips, extras and behind-the-scenes notes from Rick Steves’ European Christmas. We ended up waiting (30 minutes) in the general security line to the right that everyone passes through to enter St Peters and almost missed our entrance time for the tour. The food was good but his personality really made the night. Filming Christmas in Europe: The story behind the special For Roman families there are more than just manger scenes to see. I've always had a love/hate relationship with Florence. The off season hours of operation for various sites are pretty well documented but when it comes to the holidays, you have to check the opening and closing time carefully. The suggestions I had gotten about the Christmas Eve service was that unless you are willing to show up at least six hours early, don't expect to get a seat close enough to see the Pope during the service. We stayed in an apartment a block off the Piazza Navona which was a perfect location. Celebration happening unfortunately, the Pope walks down the aisle about 2/3 the... 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