Rome Destination Guide
A sparkling line-up of world-class exhibitions and performances alongside centuries-old traditions, parades and, of course, Christmas mass with the Pope, makes this a captivating time to visit the Italian capital. And with the fun-packed Il Regno di Natale at Rome’s largest theme park and an animated Pixar exhibition, younger visitors can enjoy every moment, too.
A highlight of this year’s Festa del Cinema di Roma is the Museo dell’Ara Pacis’s dedication to legendary Italian big-screen actor Marcello Mastroianni, who rose to fame in 1960 with his role in Federico Fellini’s classic, La Dolce Vita. Featuring smartly choreographed film clips starring the erstwhile heartthrob, the exhibition is sensitively curated by Gian Luca Farinelli and offers a retrospective glimpse at the Italian actor’s career highlights.
Museo dell’Ara Pacis, Via di Ripetta 180, 00186 Rome
Marcello Mastroianni on La Dolce Vita set © Cineteca di Bologna / Reporters
The Kingdom of Christmas
Rome’s largest amusement park is transformed into an enchanting snow-powdered winter wonderland, complete with candy cane houses, cheeky dancing elves and sparkling festive décor. Journey into the Toy Factory for an immersive experience of the magical world of Father Christmas, where one of Santa’s helpers will assist little ones in crafting this year’s wish lists.
Luneur Park, Via delle Tre Fontane 100, 00144 Rome
Piazza Navona Christmas Market
For an authentic flavour of Natale in the Eternal City, take a 20-minute stroll from Hotel Eden to the spectacular surrounds of the Piazza Navona, home to the capital’s annual Christmas market. It’s one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, enhanced by Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, and during December, its colonised by twinkling stalls selling stocking-fillers, toys and decorations alongside hot spiced wine and roast chestnuts.
Piazza Navona, 00186 Rome
Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter’s Basilica
A centuries-old tradition in the Italian capital, the Pope hosts a midnight mass at the Basilica of St Peter every Christmas Eve, with proceedings starting at 9.15pm. It’s a ticketed event, but if you missed the chance to reserve a spot in the basilica, head to the grand sweep of St Peter’s Square on the night. Thousands flock here to watch it broadcast on large screens to ring in Christmas with the Pope.
St Peter’s Basilica, Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Vatican City
La Befana and Epiphany
On the night of the 5th January, La Befana, a beneficent crone on a broomstick, delivers gifts to deserving children, while misbehavers receive a lump of coal. Take a cue from local tradition and take little ones to the merry-go-rounds, masquerades and candy stalls in Piazza Navona to celebrate. The next day, witness the Cavalcata dei Magi parade on Via della Conciliazione. The three wise kings are accompanied by historic costumes, musicians and decorated horses on their way to St Peter’s Basilica.
Piazza Navona, 00186 Rome
Via della Conciliazione, 00193 Roma
Pixar. 30 Years of Animation
From Toy Story to Monsters & Co., this colourful round-up of everyone’s favourite animated characters makes Pixar. 30 Years of Animation a highly entertaining journey into the creative universe of the digital cartoon pioneer. A selection of 400 drawings, sketches, video clips and storyboards are accompanied by plenty of opportunity to revisit old favourites such as Finding Nemo on the big screen.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Nazionale 194, 00184 Rome
Pollock and the New York School
The grand sweep of Il Vittoriano is a magnificent destination in itself. But when its interiors are clad in modern art’s most celebrated paintings, it becomes this season’s starring attraction. The works of Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline join Jackson Pollock in this star-studded curation. Don’t miss the concurrent Andy Warhol show—yet another reason to push this to the top of your itinerary.
Il Vittoriano, Piazza Venezia, 00186 Rome
Marking the 2,000th anniversary of Roman poet Ovid’s death, this exhibition collates 200 ancient sculptures, frescos, coins and fragments to introduce the romantic individual who penned the celebrated Metamorphoses. The 1st century collection of Greek and Roman poetic mythology is beautifully illustrated in this exhibition by a selection of fascinating illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.
Scuderie del Quirinale, Via Ventiquattro Maggio 16, 00186 Rome
Low Form. Imaginaries and Visions in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Tech meets art in this intriguing selection of immersive installations and multisensory displays. Low Form: Imaginaries and Visions in the Age of Artificial Intelligence corrals a compelling line-up of contemporary works, including Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman’s unnerving life-after-death AI soliloquy, stark cosmic images by Italian photographer Carola Bonfili and thought-provoking simulations by Ian Cheng.
MAXXI, Via Guido Reni 4, 00196 Rome
This ballet in four acts follows the enchanting story of a princess, Odette, who, under a sorcerer’s spell, is transformed into a swan by day, while by night she falls in love with a prince. Immaculate choreography and exquisite costumes are underpinned by Tchaikovsky’s soaring composition in the Teatro dell’Opera’s excellent treatment of Swan Lake.
Teatro dell’Opera, 1 Piazza Beniamino Gigli, 00184 Roma
Six Nations Rugby: 2019 Championship
The match between Italy and Wales on 2nd February at the Stadio Olimpico is one of the first to kick off a thrilling rugby season with the Six Nations Championship. While this game is sure to raise the pulses of sports enthusiasts, it’s the following match on 23rd February, when Italy goes head to head with defending champions Ireland, that promises to be the real scorcher. In a grand finale, the Italian team plays France on 16th March.
Stadio Olimpico, Viale dei Gladiatori, 00135 Rome