Rome Christmas market

The Piazza Navona Christmas market in Rome, Italy

Romans erect elaborate presepi (nativity scenes) across the city, from life-sized tableaux on the Spanish Steps and before St. Peter’s to countless crèches in church chapels, all populated by papier-mâché or terracotta figurines and most with a pizza parlor tucked between the shops of the Bethlehem backdrop.

Market action centers on Piazza Navona, its Bernini fountains surrounded by stalls hawking toys, handmade presepio figures, carnival games of chance, ciambelle (dinner plate–sized doughnuts), and 101 variations on peanut brittle. (Dec. 8–Jan. 6;

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La Befana,” the Christmas witch, who traditionally brings Italian children presents on the Epiphany, January 6. These days, broomstick-mounted Befanas swaddled in black jostle for stall space with jolly red-and-white Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) dolls, and in many Italian households Santa now brings presents on Dec. 25 and La Befana brings more on Jan. 6. Italian kids rock.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in August 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.