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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strolling Through the Christmas Market at Piazza Navona

Greetings from a very chilly South of France.  While many parts of the north are under flurries of snow, we still have a few rays of sun that are keeping me company this morning.  And even though I'm currently huddled over a cafe latté and wrapped to my eyeballs in a big woolly scarf, the sunshine feels like a nice "welcome back" to France after my five days in Italy.

And what a glorious five days they were - eating, drinking, strolling, and, most importantly, catching up with old friends. Not to mention a certain someone special made me a blueberry pancake breakfast, complete with maple syrup and a side of bacon.  Um, I'd get on a plane just for that. Heartwarming.    

And while Jennifer and I spent a lot of time visiting our old Roman "haunts" (basically trattoria, enoteca, and general gastro-hopping), we also spent some time doing as the Romans do: strolling through the city...also known in Italian as the passeggiata.

We were met with some cool temperatures, and we had a sprinkling of rain now & again, but Rome never seems to disappoint the traveler, and this visit was no exception.  As we found ourselves winding through the tiny streets that connect the Pantheon to Piazza Navona, it was hard not to stop and marvel at the fountains, obelisks, and churches that make this corner of the city so stunning.

Piazza Navona itself had been converted into a lively Christmas market - full of sweet treats for Italian bambini, and more traditional fare like Christmas baubles, lights, & stalls stacked high with brightly colored toys.

Yet, like most Italian Christmas markets, the star attraction at Piazza Navona was arguably the presepe, or Nativity scene.  If you're familiar with Italian Christmas traditions, you're likely to know that Italians aren't big on elaborate decorations, but they do spend considerable thought on the design & construction of their Nativity scenes. Apart from the religious figures themselves, there are an abundance of accessories to turn any presepe into a work of art.

I'm still gathering ideas for the Provençal equivalent, the crèche, but I did have to stop myself from loading my suitcase with tiny sheep, cows, jugs, barrels, and mangers to haul back home.

We were also happy to discover more traditional gifts for everyday Italiophile.  It may be a bit colorful, but there's no mistaking your love for Italy if you happen to come home with the bottle shaped like a boot. Well, on second thought, I guess I should have bought two.

The Piazza Navona Christmas market runs from November 26th until January 6th, 2011.  


  1. Bonjour ! I found your blog through Sara in Le Petit Village and I love it already !! I used to be an expat myself and I'm soon going to be one again so it's always good to read about other people's experiences !
    Bisous !

  2. We return to Provence soon and will be at our home in Sablet through the 9th of January and I look forward to adding to my santon collection and building out a Provencal creche for us. A great post. I really enjoy your blog.

  3. Thanks 'French Lover' :) Had a peek at your blog today & what fun! Looking forward to hearing more about your return trip & can really appreciate your transatlantic love story :)

    Very kind of you Michel! Your story is amazing as well! What a dream to buy & restore a house in Provence - the photos are truly beautiful. Loved your Paris bistro review & what an adventurous life you have, trés cool :) And I'm also a big fan of Peter Mayle - makes living here so much more enjoyable...and hilarious :)
    Hope you'll share more updates about life in Sablet - a bientot!

  4. I loved reading your post about the Christmas Market in Rome. I've fallen in love with the Christmas Market on the Champs Elysess in Paris and wish I could travel to all of the markets going this season. I was in Rome this summer, but I think I'll have to make a trip back soon to see the Nativity scenes.

  5. Ahhh - just love Europe during the holidays. Period. Have spent them in England, Germany, France, Italy ... where I think my heart will always be. I hope to do much more reading while I'm back in the states for a few months this winter and catch up with more of your posts - love the photos, Tuula!

  6. Fantastic post Tuula! Your pictures always capture a mood perfectly. And I think I'd have to buy that little boot too :-) x

  7. Ahhh, "gastro-hopping" and strolling through Rome with friends, it sounds like a perfect trip - topped of with the Christmas market. Thanks for taking us there with you. Love that boot!

  8. Thanks gals! Looks like the boot was a big hit :) Sometimes you just gotta go for those funky tourist goodies - makes for a great conversation piece as well!

    Linds, glad you liked the post. I'm really a sucker for Christmas markets myself. Next on the wish list is a trip to Germany (heard their markets are amazing). I'll have to get to the ones on the Champs Elysess, haven't been yet! Thanks for the nice comment.

    Sara & Kathy, happy I got to take you "along with me" to market :) There's no place like Rome..especially for the holidays!

  9. Oh how fun! I do LOVE Christmas markets! :-) My brother promised to take me to some Dutch and German ones this Christmas and I cannot wait! :-) Your trip to Rome with your friend sounds so very wonderful, Tuula. :-) I love wandering a city with dear friends. :-)

  10. That boot made me laugh! Cute and kitsch come together very nicely. There's nothing like a passeggiata in Italy, wherever you are... a great way to relax and engage in people watching!

    Love the photos of the markets :)