LivingTravelEvents and festivals in January in Rome, Italy

Events and festivals in January in Rome, Italy

If you are planning a trip to Rome in January, you will visit the city as a bit of calm passes after Christmas. Still, there are several major festivals and events to attend in the Eternal City in January, and you’ll find fewer crowds, cheaper hotel rooms, and a laid-back vibe – aside from New Years Eve of course!

Temperatures can be quite cold in Rome in January, although snow is a rare event. Prepare by packing and dressing in layers, and be sure to bring a warm coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.

Experience these events and also take part in other activities that are ideal this time of year. To get your wintry weather in the Eternal City, head to the temporary outdoor ice rink at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, just north of the city center in the Flaminio neighborhood. Sometimes there is an open track at Castel Sant’Angelo, but it is difficult to confirm from year to year. If you are lucky enough to find the rink open on your way to and from the Vatican, put on some skates and show your skills!

And use this time of year to visit some museums. In the post-Christmas lull that befalls Rome in January, you may find that you have some of the best museums in the city practically all to yourself, or at least with far fewer visitors than during other parts of the year. When the weather outside is cold or gloomy, it’s a perfect opportunity to take your time (and keep warm) indoors, admiring some of the masterpieces of Rome’s art museums.

New Years Day (capodanno)

New Year’s Day (January 1) is a national holiday in Italy. Most of the shops, museums, restaurants and other services will be closed so that the Romans can recover from their wild New Year’s Eve parties and relax with their loved ones. Even with most of the monuments closed, you can enjoy walking around the city and sightseeing without the crowds. In the evening, ask your hotel concierge to help you find an open restaurant.

The Epiphany (La Festa dell’Epifania)

A national holiday, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, which celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ, falls on January 6 and is officially the Twelfth Night of Christmas. In Vatican City, a procession containing hundreds of people dressed in medieval costumes walks down the wide avenue that leads to the Vatican. The participants of the procession carry symbolic gifts for the Pope, who then conducts a morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica after the procession. Many churches hold live nativity scenes for Epiphany, and since it is less than two weeks after Christmas, many presepi (nativity scenes) are also on display.

La Befana also falls on January 6 and is a particularly special day for Italian children as they celebrate the arrival of La Befana, a good witch. If you want to buy a Befana doll, head to the Christmas market in Piazza Navona, where you will see many of them on display.

Saint Anthony’s Day (Festa di San Antonio Abate)

The Feast of Saint Anthony Abbott celebrates the patron saint of butchers, pets, basket makers and gravediggers. In Rome, this holiday is celebrated on January 17 in the church of Sant’Antonio Abate on the Esquilino hill.

The very popular annual “Blessing of the Beasts” ceremony that accompanies this day is also held in nearby Piazza Pio XII. The Italian Cattlemen’s Association (AIA) sets up an open-air stable in the square, directly across from St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Every year, there is an exhibition of livestock animals, including cows, sheep, goats and chickens, which is open to the public. After the arrival of the animals, the Archpriest of San Pedro conducts an official Catholic mass for the farmers, their families and all animal lovers. After mass, the Archpriest performs a blessing of all the animals. Around noon, you will see a line of horses walking down the street. These unique vacations are a great way for tourists to see how the locals hold less frequented events.

Sales (Saldi)

Stores in Rome and the rest of Italy have big sales, or saldi , twice a year, starting in January and late July. This is an opportunity to get some great deals, particularly on fashions and accessories (and ohhh the shoes! ). Bargain hunters will find more affordable shops all over Via del Corso, mid-range to high-end shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo near the Vatican, and high-end designer shops on Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps. However stylish the store is, everyone hangs up the saldi sign in January, and you can find great prices as merchants make room for spring launches.

Read more about designer and shopping in Rome.

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