What is your favorite part of the Holiday Season in Rome?
Ciao, and a warm welcome to Rome. I'm Chiara, I'm an active Roman, a private chef, and a guide at Context. Today I would like to talk to you about the Christmas atmosphere in Rome and our traditions. Rome is wonderful all year round, but I just love December – with that Christmas feeling buzzing in the street, the warm sun in the chilly air, and delicious treats which we only eat in this time of the year. One of the main traditions when it comes to Christmas in Italy are the "presepios" which are amazing representations of the nativity scene. Italy is famous worldwide for those, any church in Italy will have its own nativity. Some are very old and precious. There is an especially stunning and famous one in Rome at the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano This is a must in my Christmas tours around the city. It's very, very beautiful. Some nativities have a modern twist. Others are more classic and traditional. It's so nice to see them every year, they remind Italians of their childhood at home. Most families in Italy in fact recreate the nativity in their home. There are many different types of nativity and each of them is special in their own way, because we make them with lots of love and faith. Visiting nativities is also a very nice way to discover some wonderful and hidden churches– and to see Rome from a different angle and from the point of view of the first Christians. This is so interesting. Strolling from church to church in Rome we also usually stop by tiny shops. Places where I used to go with my grandpa and where you can taste special delicacies like hot chocolate, roasted chestnut, and of course much more. Another Christmas landmark in Rome is the fair in Piazza Navona, which is one of the most famous squares in Rome. In Christmas, the square turns into a child's dream. You can find a mery-go-round and stalls that sell Christmas sweet and Christmas items made by local artisans, especially for the Christmas tree and for the nativity. Sometimes if you're lucky you can still meet bagpipe pipers that come downtown from the mountains and stroll around Rome with their bagpipes – which in italian are called Zampogna. If you meet them please remember to give them a little tip for their music. When I was little I was very scared of this man whom we called Zampognari. So Zampogna is the instrument, and Zampognari are the guys who plays it. Now it's not so easy to meet them, but if you're lucky you will and you will enjoy that. Christmas celebrations are very similar all over Italy but then every town has their own special traditions. They mainly regard food, family reunions, and playing Christmas games. If you're invited to a Christmas night remember to bring cash, you have to play with real money. We call Christmas eve "CheNone," which means the big dinner is usually a fish based dinner. The fish once upon a time both at in the evening at San Teodoro fish market – which is another nice location – you can pass by and today has a small local market on Saturday and Sundays. It's worth having a look at that. Christmas day is instead all about meat. Usually it will be a lunch with tortellini that you will have handmade in your family with your family. Broth, turkey pistols, and much, much more. Desserts are simply to die for. The famous panettone and pandora are only made in this time of the year. My favorite is panettone and I like to be picky and go in the best patisserie to have the artisanal one. It's so interesting to know them all. Another big tradition is to always have at home nougat and fresh fruits. After dessert, we usually open the presents and play bingo, or a card game called "the Merchant in the Fair" which is based on figures and sayings coming from Naples. It's so very, very fun and you can earn a lot of money on this on this game. New Year's Eve is also a big event. Unlike Christmas, which has to be spent with your family, on New Year's you can party with your friends. Like everything in Italy, even this tradition has a special saying this one goes "Christmas with your kids, and New Year's Eve with whoever you want to." But the most important rule for Italians at New Year – and one that you can apply easily when you're back home – is that at midnight you must eat lentils. The more lentils you eat, the more money you will make in the New Year. So many, many happy wishes to all of you. I hope to welcome you in my city, the best city in the world. You're gonna love it.