6 things to do in Rome this Winter


When Starbucks introduces their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, it usually means cooler weather is inevitably on its way.  Summer is almost behind us, but that doesn’t mean your travels should halt until warmer weather prevails. Visiting Rome in the winter is an experience you shouldn’t miss. Regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Rome knows how to dress up for winter. While you’re exploring the city, try these six activities to melt your winter woes.

Visit the Vatican

When you visit Rome, visiting the Vatican is a must. If you choose to visit this historic landmark in the winter, you’re in luck. Visiting the Vatican during the off-season means the crowds of tourists are drastically reduced, however, keep in mind that between Christmas and January 6th there is a significant increase in tourists. You will still want to purchase tickets in advance to take advantage of skipping the line and receiving better access.

Drink red wine in Enoteca

The word Enoteca when translated to English means “wine repository” or sometimes can mean “wine library”. Regional quality is what lies at the heart of most Enoteche. Some even offer light bites as you taste your way through Italian wine country. This is also a great opportunity to purchase a few bottles of wine to continue your experience in the comfort of home. Who would like an Italian bottle of wine in their Christmas stocking?

Visit the indoor market in Testaccio

The Testaccio market located in Rome’s Testaccio district is populated with nearly 100 vendors mostly catering local seasonal cuisine including bakeries, local produce, fishmongers, butchers, and delis. If there is one thing to try while visiting, hit up Mordi e Vai and delight in a hot sandwich filled with slow cooked deliciousness like brisket, tripe, or kidneys. If you’re a vegetarian, you’re in luck. The braised artichoke is out of this world.

Go to the opera

If you are looking for an authentic entertainment experience, then the opera is the place to go. Italy produces some of the most famous operas and opera singers in the world. Whether you’re a lifelong connoisseur or a first-timer, an evening at the opera is truly an Italian experience. There are plenty of venus from galleries to crypts, salones to palaces, adding a special atmosphere to your musical experience. One of the most unique venues is the Capuchin Crypt lined with the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars.

Visit the Christmas market

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than visiting a Christmas market in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not only can you pick up a few unusual and unique gifts, it’s the perfect way to experience traditional Italian culture. One of the best Christmas markets is located in Piazza Novana. Opening in the beginning of December, this idyllic market sells handmade toys, decorations, stocking-stuffers and plenty of delicious bites.

Admire the Vatican Christmas tree

The Vatican Christmas Tree, also known as Saint Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, is an annual spectacle located directly in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica. In 1982, Pope John Paul II, a polish-born pope, introduced this northern European symbol of Christmas to Vatican City. Today, it is considered an honor to offer the Pope a Christmas Tree with the Vatican accepting a tree from a different European country or region each year. For example, the 2016 Vatican Christmas tree came from Trento, Italy and was illuminated on December 6th with 18,000 LED lights.

Sean Finelli is CEO at The Tour Guy. The Tour Guy and its suite of brands, The Roman Guy and Finelli & Shaw, offer globetrotters uniquely curated experiences across Europe.

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Comments (12)

  1. Lydia Haigh says:

    A group of my friends went to Rome last year, just after Christmas and stayed for New Year and they said that although the city was busy it was a magical trip. Unfortunately due to family health problems I had to drop out. Though having seen all their social media posts I am even more determined to get there. You could do a spectacular Christmas Instagram account on Rome alone.

    • Sean Finelli says:

      Hi Lydia, I’m sorry to hear you weren’t able to join your friends. I hope the family is now in good health. Definitely make your way to Rome when you can – it is a magical city!

  2. Claire Smith says:

    Rome has to be one of my favourite European Cities but it can all get a bit full on in summer. You’re too busy trying to work out where to put your feet on the pavement that sometimes you miss a lot of the splendid sights and the character of one of the world’s great cities. I think that it’s time that I gave Rome a go in winter.

  3. Tony says:

    Normally I head south to warmer climates for my winter travel. I’ve hardly ever visited anywhere in Europe between the end of October and the beginning of April. Maybe, it does make sense to travel when air fares and hotels are cheaper. I’ve certainly never seen the Pope’s Christmas tree before. Could be different.

    • Sean Finelli says:

      You can definitely take advantage of the off-season price dip in airfare and hotels – just remember to pack warmly!

    • Helen Johnson says:

      That’s what appeals to me as someone on a budget, the cheaper prices for off-peak seasons. My brother went in the summer and loved it but it was apparently incredibly busy, though he seems to like that whereas I prefer less crowds and a slightly more relaxed pace. I would love to go one day but I’ve been saying that about Rome for a while now, maybe I should stop making excuses and just look into going in the next month or two!

    • Sean FInelli says:

      Off-season travel would be perfect for you Helen. If you have any questions, call us and we can help!

  4. Helen Johnson says:

    ‘Wine library’, I love that! I hadn’t really thought about visiting in the winter before but it makes sense if you’re wanting a slightly different experience than what you’d get in the peak summer season. I think October or November could be quite good as I do like the sound of less crowds, but obviously before the Christmas season and New Year fully kicks in. Christmas would be gorgeous there. I wonder what it’s like for New Year there? It’s good to know there’s still plenty on when it’s off-peak like the indoor market, so I assume the Testaccio one operate year round. I would also assume the prices would be less for trips in October or November, which is also appealing! As for the weather, I’m already fed up and cold in the UK but if I had to choose somewhere to be cold & a little less grumpy it would be Rome!

  5. Beccy Short says:

    18,000 LED lights on the tree, I bet it’s a right pain when a couple of those go pop and have to be replaced! As a change of scenery for Christmas I’d like to check out Rome, I imagine it would feel quite magical with all the decorations and the traditional Christmas spirit there.

    • Sean Finelli says:

      It definitely rivals the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City. I sometimes have issues with my six foot tree – I can’t imagine stringing lights on an exponentially larger one!

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