Holiday Lights

December 22, 2010 / Local Interest
Rome, Italy
Up until a few years ago, towns throughout Italy would decorate the streets with elaborate trellises that arched from the buildings on one side of the road to those on the other side. These were usually welded affairs, and always adorned with as many light bulbs as possible. Spaced every twenty or thirty feet or so for the full length of the street, they created a beautiful succession of luminous arches that heralded imminent festivities and celebration.

Since the advent of LEDs, it seems the older form of holiday street decorations has taken second stage to a more “modern” version. In just the past few years, strings of these variously colored high-tech crystal-clear pinpoints of light have been hung across the streets, much in the same way as the trellises of “yore”.

The modernity of these LEDs is perhaps slightly dissonant and out of place in a city like Rome, or perhaps it is simply their unfamiliarity that causes that hiccup of hesitation before acceptance.

Fact of the matter is that an unbiased and proper look shows that once again the city, while hardly deserving of modernity, in the end manages to wear it quite well. After all, after close to three millenia of change, it has quite capably perfected the art… and in this case still manages to shout a wondrous “Merry Christmas!” to anyone walking its streets.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

23 Responses to “Holiday Lights”

  1. Karin Reinhardt Accettura

    . . . “Buon Natale” – “Frohe Weihnachten” – “Merry Christmas” – and all the best for the coming year! – Thank you so much for bringing the ‘Italien Notebook’ into my house!!! – Karin

  2. Rosemary

    I’m sure you are right GB, change is inevitable and they do look festive but I will never forget the look of Sicilian towns and cities with those amazing trellises, where, we used to say, nothing is over the top!

  3. Virgil Franco

    Love the beautiful pictures and thank you for the Italien Notebook,it is alwayes so interstering and informative. I never miss reading it.
    Merry Christmas and have a Happy and prosperous New Year.

  4. Angela Finch

    Thank you for these pictures and notes. The LED lights must have improved the safety of pedestrians. Those heavy welded trellises which must have carried high voltage cables would have posed a great danger. I wonder whether there were any reported accidents.

    The availability and relatively low cost of LED lights have transformed Christmas (& Diwali) decorations everywhere. It comes down to taste in the end!

    Thank you for your daily Notebook. I have found it informative and
    enjoyed reading about the Italian way of life.
    Happy Christmas from snowy England.

  5. Lenore Chicka

    I may be alone in this, but to me….these decorative street lights
    just doesn’t fit the character of Rome. I don’t think it enhanced
    the holiday spirit at all although I don’t have the “old style” to compare it with.

  6. Thank you GB, for another well written, informative and amusing look at a little slice of our Italy! I knew as soon as I started reading it, that you must have written this one. You do have a unique writing style and you should write more often. Buon Natale a te’ e tutta la famiglia di “Italian Notebook”.

  7. joseph spano
    joseph spano

    Yes, we too witnessed the passing,or start of the passing of the ‘old way of lights’ the newer colder ‘LED’ causes much to miss. The warm glow of colour and cheerfulness will not be remembered in a very short time. Just as with all things past, how to live is soon forgotten. How to love is rapidly passing.

  8. Debra Duckman

    Thank you GB. Italian Notebook is a gift I receive each day. While enjoying your piece today, I am able to remember being there at this time 2 years ago. You have brought me back to a wonderful memory and time.

  9. Donna Cappella

    At least they are not using those horrible cascading lights that are so ubiquitous in the USA!

  10. Lovely to look at. And for me, especially nice, as I recognize one of the streets as where I lived once while in Rome. Can’t make it for Christmas but, I will be back in March 2011.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Please continue to do so.

  11. Italian Notebook always brings me a smile and fond memories of Italy. It really does not matter what type of lights light up Rome, it looks beautiful. Thank you

  12. “modern”
    “blue” (color)

    This is not Christmas, it’s the opposite of Christmas.

    Blue = Hannukah
    Holiday = replacement term for diminishment of Christmas
    modern = anti-Christian

    Come on, wake up…..unless you like the “antis” agenda?

  13. Linda Boccia

    Tanti auguri GB per Lei e sua famiglia. Mio marito e’ adesso in pensione in anticipo e noi vogliamo affitare un appartamento a Roma per 3-6 mesi l’anno prossimo.
    La Chiamaremo per un caffe.

    Buon natale e felice anno nuovo,

    Linda e Li Boccia

  14. Tina Giamotti

    Beautiful lights in a beautiful city no matter if they’re incandescent or LED…..Am I correct in that this is the Monti Rione of Rome?…My favorite area…this looks like either Via Panisperna or Via Boschetto..????
    Grazie e Buon Natale a tutti

  15. I agree with Margie! You are a wonderful writer! Your words, along with the fabulous photos, are very evocative. Brava! I wish you a Buon Natale filled with light, whatever its source.

  16. Thank you, GB, for bringing me back to Rome. My daughters and I often reminisce about our wonderful years there. Tanti auguri….e buon natale. Arlen (aka mother of Cristina and Kate)

  17. Barbara Smith

    As always I thoroughly enjoy reading and sharing all of the wondrous site, sounds and smells of Italy. There are times I truly miss them. This was always A time of year that was more important to me than any other. Thank you for sharing with us. Merry Christmas and A Happy New year to you and your family.

  18. We enjoyed your writing about the Christmas lights! Coincidentally, this year, on our home, we added large multi-color lights which my Grandparents, Mary and Tony Catanzaro had strung on their home when I was a child. What a lovely time we had telling family, friends and neighbors our sweet story! Buon Natale and all the best in 2011!

  19. Steven S- how right you are.
    GB- you are a good writer, but I do not appreciate how much you exagerate and use small examples to speak for all of Italy. Towns all over Italy still use the traditional trellises. Happy New Year yall.


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