Holiday Piazza Navona

December 20, 2011 / Events
Rome, Lazio
Piazza Navona has forever been the square that transforms itself as of early December into one of the holiday season must-visit-at-least-once destinations for Romans, particularly with children.

The reason is simple: it is tradition that each year each family or child will pick out one new figurine for the family presepio (or nativity scene) that is built at home, and Piazza Navona in December has always been Rome’s place to find these terracotta figurines.

One can also secure a Santa on a rope ladder. . . huh? No chimneys in Italian cities means no roof access hence unnecessary reindeer and sled. What you do have is extreme-sport wall-scaling Santas which get hung on the outside of apartment windows in town. Plenty of befanas (traditional epiphany old witch) as well, and the “black coal” candy that she carries.

Of course, it is all geared towards the children, who flock here in the evenings dragging their parents from candy stand to merry-go-round to presepe stall. Maybe it’s the kids, or the smell of chestnuts, or maybe it’s simply the decorated square or all of these . . regardless, traditions are traditions and this one continues putting smiles on everyone’s faces.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

7 Responses to “Holiday Piazza Navona”

  1. Rosemary

    Looks like the rain kept the crowds away in your final photo! When we visited a few years ago it was so packed with people you could hardly move!

  2. I was just there on December 1, 2011 and everything was in full swing. My wife and I visit the Piazza every year during the first week of December. It is always a festive time!

  3. Bob Siefker

    We were there in June – this makes me want to come back for Christmas!

  4. Joan Schmelzle

    I have been lucky enough to visit the fair several times, in fact, several times in any year I have been able to. Last year I spent Christmas in Rome and loved it. I probably visited Navona 7 or 8 times in the month I was there. The only problem I have ever had is finding some Befanas that are not like scary United States Halloween witches. When I finally found some that were more kindly looking I have bought a couple because I have given each family of my 13 great nieces and nephews the lovely little DePaola book and, of course, each child his or her own Befana.
    Buon Natale

  5. Bob Paglee, Sr.

    When my bride and I wer married at St. Peter’s 58 years ago and lived in Rome during the early 1950s. Piazza Navona was the place to celebrate the big holiday, but for the kids, it was the Befana (and not Santa) who brought gifts on — ummm, was it Jan. 8?


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