Chinese New Year, Coming to a Rome Near You

We won't sugarcoat it: Rome long has had an uneasy relationship with its immigrant population, including its Chinese residents. Over the past few months, though, from the Palazzo Venezia exhibit comparing the ancient Roman and Chinese empires to the launch of "The Year of Chinese Culture" in Italy, that seems like it's starting to turn around.

How Rome's celebrating the Chinese New Year this weekend makes that attempt at more mutual respect even clearer.

Rome's Chinese population always has celebrated the New Year, of course. But the parades and parties have been at the Esquiline hill — the neighborhood around Termini and Piazza Vittorio often nicknamed "Chinatown" for its plethora of Chinese families and businesses.

This year? Those festivities will take place in Rome's center. It's a recognition not just of the Year of Chinese Culture, but, perhaps, of the sheer size and influence of Italy's Chinese population: The Chinese make up the nation's 4th-largest foreign community, after the Romanians, Albanians and Moroccans.

The top two events are:

Tomorrow, Feb. 5, the Auditorium Parco della Musica will host a performance with lions, dragons, and a drum dance. That's from 6pm-8pm.

And on Sunday, Feb. 6, a Chinese New Year parade will take place at Piazza del Popolo, ending with a firework display. That goes from 6pm-8pm, too.

There are also events nationwide, including in Naples, Turin, Venice, Milan, and Prato.

 

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On New Year’s Eve, Three Free Concerts in Rome

Like any big city, Rome has lots of New Year's Eve options, from fancy dinners to edgy clubs. But if you don't want to shell out (any) dough — and if battling strangers for a spot at a bar isn't your thing — you might want to hit up one of Rome's free New Year's Eve concerts:

1. The New Year's Eve concert at the Imperial Forums. The headliner this year will be Claudio Baglione, a famous Roman singer, and the concert starts at 10pm. (There will be a pause at midnight for the countdown, followed by fireworks). It's free, but arrive early to make sure you have a seat!

2. Concert at Piazza del Popolo. A lot of the New Year's Eve action will be at Piazza del Popolo, including a free concert at 10pm. Expect street performers and fireworks, too.

3. Classical music concert at the Piazza del Quirinale. As per tradition, there will be a classical concert at the piazza on New Year's Eve — and the president of Italy will make an appearance. The concert starts at 11pm. (And yes, here will be fireworks!)

 

 

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What Is Open on Christmas in Rome? (Updated for 2018)

What is open on Christmas in Rome?

If you’ve booked your trip to Rome over Christmas, a couple of things normally happen. First, there’s elation. And then there’s an, “Oh no. What’s open on Christmas in Rome? Is anything open on Christmas in Rome?”

There’s reason to wonder. Many Romans do leave the city for their family homes over the holidays. Even so, there are still plenty of people left in this city of 3 million. Here’s what is open on Christmas in Rome… and what won’t be. (New Year’s, too). (For more tips and tricks, don’t miss my ultimate guide to Christmas in Rome!).

Will sites and museums be open during Christmas in Rome?

While some museums and sites will remain open even on Christmas Day and New Year’s, most of the biggies will be shut. The forum, Colosseum and Palatine will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, for example, but open every other day as usual, including Dec. 24.

The Vatican’s a tougher one: The Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel are closed on Dec. 8, Dec. 25, Dec. 26, and Jan. 1. They’re also closed every Sunday in December and January, as usual, except for the last Sunday of each month, when they are open and free.

What is open on Christmas in Rome?

Check with other sites individually. Here’s where you can find (in English) the hours for all of Rome’s major museums and archaeological sights. Outdoor sites like Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain, along with churches, also will be open.

Will the bus and metro be running over Christmas in Rome?

Yes. Often, the city even has an expanded service on Christmas Eve until the early afternoon. Service tends to end at about 9pm that night, though, and cabs are in very short supply, so if you need to be somewhere, give yourself lots of time to get there. On Christmas Eve, walking will probably be your best bet, so dress warmly!

Will restaurants be open on Christmas and New Year’s?

Most restaurants will be open every day except for Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1. Some others might close on Dec. 8, Dec. 31 and Jan. 6.

But many places will also be open on even those holidays themselves, including both classic Italian favorites and the kosher restaurants in the Ghetto. Just remember to book in advance.

What is open on Christmas in Rome?

Katie Parla has a nice little list of good Rome restaurants that are open over the holidays, including Metamorfosi, Romeo and Roscioli.

I want to go shopping over the holidays. Can I?

Throughout December and January, yes. However, most shops will close early on Christmas Eve and will not be open on Christmas Day. Other days some might be closed or have shorter hours include Dec. 8, Dec. 26, and Jan. 1.

If you want the saldi, you’ll have to wait — usually, these after-Christmas sales kick off throughout Lazio on the third Saturday of January.

And what about churches?

Ah, churches! They will, of course, be open on Christmas; many will offer mass at the same time they’d usually have their Sunday service. If you’re interested in attending mass, check with the church in advance. Otherwise, you’re fine to visit most churches as usual, being, of course, particularly respectful and refraining from taking flash photographs if a service is going on. And don’t forget to check out the church’s presepio (Nativity scene) — a particularly Italian handicraft (see below) that is only on display this time of year.

What is open over Christmas in Rome?

Also: Rome’s best Christmas markets, and 11 etiquette mistakes not to make eating in Italy.

Want more great tips and tricks for Rome? Check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here!

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