Pictures of Christmas in Italy

Before the pictorial I want to throw in a video from LynnK.  She assures me that “this is a popular children’s Christmas song in Italy!”  

Well…That’s one Italian song I’m not dying for the Guys to sing.

a lights


Thought you all might want to see what Christmas looks like “across the pond.”


christmas in Italy 1The Vatican Takes Center Stage
On Christmas Eve, all eyes turn to Vatican City where the Pope says Midnight Mass. St. Peter’s Square displays a life-size Nativity scene as well as a 100-foot Christmas tree. While the Vatican is the center of Rome’s Christmas celebrations, there are many more ways to enjoy Christmas in Rome including markets, a Nativity museum and special church services.


christmas in Italy 2.jpgMilan’s Magical Holiday Feel
Milan’s cathedral (Duomo) looks magical during the Christmas season. The city of Milan is famous for its shopping and that’s no different at holiday time when Christmas markets fill the city. Locations include Castello Sforzesco,Piazza Sant’Ambrogio and the streets leading up to the Duomo.


christmas in Italy 3Christmas Lights in Turin
Each year, at the end of the November and just in time for Christmas the city of Turin presents Luci d’Artista, an installation of art exhibits using light as the medium. The displays transform the streets of the city into a magical, other worldly place.


christmas in Italy 4.jpgNaples: A Christmas Street of Artistry
Italians are crazy for presepi (Nativity scenes) and presepi-central is the street of Via San Gregorio Armeno in Naples where craftsmen use techniques handed down for generations to create the traditional figurines of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men, as well as more contemporary figures like Pope Benedict and Barack Obama.
(Obama statues in Italy?  Why don’t we have Il Volo statues in the U.S.?  Someone get that started!)


christmas in Italy 5
Herald the Zampognari
The zampognari are shepherds from Abruzzo and surrounding regions who play thezampogna, a bagpipe-like instrument. In days gone by, they came down from their work in the hills to entertain their families and others for Christmas. You can still see these shepherds at events throughout Italy, even strolling the streets of Rome during the festive season.  (Where’s Gianluca?)



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Christmas Market in Bolzano
Christmas markets are held throughout Italy but are particularly popular in the northern part of the country which has been influenced by the strong Germanic tradition of holiday markets. Bolzano’s Christmas market is the largest in Italy.

christmas in Italy 7Living Nativity Scenes
Italians enjoy the tradition of reenacting the birth of Jesus through live Nativity scenes. One of the largest takes place in Puglia where 250 residents of Tricase dress in period clothing. This photo captures the live Nativity pageant ofArmenzano, near Assisi. (Photo by Roberto Pollastrini)


christmas in Italy 8Siena Shares in the Holiday Spirit
The Tuscan city of Siena is filled with holiday cheer with Christmas markets in the city’s piazzas, Christmas concerts and the famous Christmas tree in the center of Piazza dei Salimbeni.


christmas in Italy 9
La Befana
Santa Claus a.k.a Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) is a relatively new introduction to Christmas in Italy. The character most eagerly anticipated by Italian children is La Befana, a witch who rides around on her broom on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) delivering goodies.  (Are you sure that’s not my Aunt Rosie?)

christmas in Italy 10Christmas Eve: Feast of Seven FishesOn Christmas Eve, Italian families indulge in the traditional Christmas Eve (la Viglia) “Feast of Seven Fishes.” The tradition dates back to the days of Roman Catholic abstinence on holy days. “Seven” may relate to the number of sacraments or the number of days it took God to create the world.


christmas in Italy 11.jpgPanettone: The Italian Christmas Dessert
Reportedly, the average Italian family consumes 5.5 pounds of panettone – a cupola-shaped rich, buttery cake – per year and much of this is during the Christmas season. This delectable dessert has its origins in Milan.  (Ann, I even tried an Italian Bakery!  Can’t find it!)


christmas in Italy 12

Buon Natale!
To wish your Italian friends “Merry Christmas” say Buon Natale!

Now there’s one greeting we all know!



32 thoughts on “Pictures of Christmas in Italy”

  1. Unfortunately I am familiar with Dominick. That song was played here in the USA years ago. I don’t think it enjoyed much popularity. It was played enough that I was able to sing along with it. Gave me a good laugh.

    Have a very Merry Christmas!

    1. Donna! What can I say!! I was desperate for something else besides listening to the bird sing “Grande Amore!!” At least I didn’t try to sneak “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” past Marie!
      Marie! Thank you for the gorgeous photos! If we can’t have snow for Christmas up here in the Adirondacks at least I get to see snow in Italy!

  2. Just more information added to our “KNOW THE COUNTRY OF OUR BOYS”
    Italian Christmas Songs

    Canzoni di Natale or Christmas carols in Italian, are some of the oldest in existence. Because Christmas hymns originated in Rome, always sung in Latin, Italy was one of the first countries to develop their Christmas song tradition.

    Here are some of the most popular Christmas songs in Italian:
    Most Popular Italian Christmas Songs

    Bianco Natale
    Tu scendi dalle stelle
    Astro del Ciel
    Dormi, dormi bel bambino
    Piva, piva
    L’albero di Natale
    Gesú bambino nasce
    Ninna, nanna
    Affrettatevi pastori
    Astro del Ciel
    Il Primo Natale
    Siam pastori e pastorelle
    Tanti auguri a te
    Valzer della candele
    Santa Lucia, canzone del 13 dicembre

    1. you might note the second title: Tu scendi dalle stelle is the song that Ignazio sang a little of when they were on the Hallmark home show two years ago.

      1. Ah Myron, always adding to our much needed music education. Thank You.

        How was the concert? Boston? Baltimore? I know it started with a “B”.

  3. I am leaving for Rome in a few hours and will spend Christmas Day and weekend there. Wouldn’t it be great to run into our boys somewhere? If so I will take lots of pictures. I played “Dominick the Donkey” for our Italian exchange student last year and he had never heard of it! Thank you for the beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas! 🙂

    1. Anncruise! If Marie doesn’t want the Panettone I ‘ll take it!! We could start a Flight Crew Christmas Tradition of sending the same Panettone from person to person sort of like passing the same fruit cake around because nobody really wants it!! I for one adore fruitcake so everybody in my family sends them to me! I always get a fruitcake accompanied by hysterical laughter when we open gifts!!

      1. Lynn, it’s so much better than a fruit cake. You can smell the oranges when you open it and then put it in the microwave for a few seconds. It does already come in a big box so I can mail it to Marie and she can pass it around if she wants. lol I’ll have to buy one after Christmas as the stores are too crowded now.

      2. I LOVE Panettone!!! So do my hips! I could happily eat this stuff alll year round. Its not in the least like fruitcake ( well only in the fact it has fruit in it but still thats where the comparision ends)
        In fact, I am now officially off the clock at work so I am going home to fix goodies for tomorrow and I AM GOING TO EAT SOME PANETTONE!….and sing along with my pals Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero. Buon Natale tutti!

  4. I was going to dance with with Dominic the Donkey then I was laughing with CATalunia Boys choir which was hilarious & then I am practically brought to tears with Lynn’s video of the Manger being sung with all those beautiful voices. Thank you all for your talents. Now I will go do some more packing while listening to Il volo & that should make my day perfect.

  5. That is the most beautiful Christmas video I’ve ever seen! Thanks , Lynn! Wish I knew how to forward it! It is truly GLORIOUS!

  6. We have several fruit/produce markets that have pannetonne all year round. Come to Detroit area. Merry Christmas to all.

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