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My friend Marina, who lives in California has just returned home from spending Christmas and New Years in Rome. Marina has very generously shared her story and photos with me for my blog.

Markets are a time for indulging in holiday treats and Yuletide joy.

Nothing evokes the spirit of the holidays like strolling through the fabled Christmas Markets, or as the Italians would say “Mercatino di Natale” of Old World Europe with a steaming cup of cappuccino in hand, as you intake the mad rush of tourists mixed in with locals all in the holiday spirit, looking for that special one-of-a-kind gift for that special person

It is a picturesque scene right out of a children’s storybook with thousands of sparkling lights strewn across stalls stacked with Christmas tree decorations, wooden toys, handmade arts and crafts, candles and ceramics. Here in Rome, the romance and magic of a traditional holiday is alive and well. The beautiful Vatican with its giant Christmas tree and nativity set which is unveiled the night before Christmas shortly before mass by the Pope.

The beautiful Colosseo surrounded by ruins with a beautiful Christmas tree nicely adorned stands out front as many stand in front for a picture or two.

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New Year’s eve…

Italians love festivals and the beginning of a new, ‘il capodanno’ is a great time to celebrate in Italy. As with most Italian festivals, food plays a major role on New Year’s Eve. Families and friends gather for a huge celebration.  Locals gather in public squares to catch the midnight fireworks as bottles of  Spumanti or Prosecco pop open. Families ring in the New Year with firecrackers and sparklers. The city of Rome illuminates with firework displays being shot up in the sky with happy Italians shouting ‘Auguri’.

The star at the dinner table is lentils (Lenticchie) symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year, and also includes pork sausage (Salsiccia) symbolizing the richness of life in the coming year, an Italian tradition that dates back to the 16th century.

An old custom that is still followed in some places in Italy (especially in the south) is throwing your old things out of the window to symbolize letting go of any past unhappiness and your readiness to accept the New Year.

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Thank you Marina, this would be an amazing way to spend Christmas and New Years.

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