New Year's Traditions and Celebrations in Italy
Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Italy is the perfect backdrop to ring in 2015. Il Capodanno, New Year’s Eve, is celebrated across the boot with lively festivities outdoors, a large feast with family and friends, an intimate dinner or dancing until sunrise. Firework displays and a midnight brindisi, a toast, in front of the Roman Forum, in the heart of Florence, along the canals of Venice or, even in a small town, will ensure that a New Year’s in Italy is one to remember. Here’s a list of our favorite New Year’s celebrations:
A large city such as Rome has many venues to celebrate New Year's. One of the most popular places has always been Piazza del Popolo. During the evening, Italians celebrate with free concerts, dancing and a midnight firework display. The next morning, the piazza is transformed into a children’s area. Children’s eyes grow wide in awe as acrobats and performers offer a free show. A wonderful exhibit of the Presepe, the nativity scene, is on display at the nearby church of Santa Maria del Popolo. Expect to see works from all corners of Italy.
One of the most impressive outdoor celebrations is found near the Colosseum, on Via dei Fori Imperiali. Music starts around 10pm, and at midnight a firework show soars over the ancient ruins.
Celebrating in Venice is an elegant affair. Glamorous galas and huge feasts are organized around the city in age-old locales. Diners expect to pay a small fortune, but are given great food and wine.
For those wanting fresh air, St. Mark’s square is the answer. The piazza is filled with music, fireworks and a large group kiss when the clock strikes midnight. Partakers fill their glasses with a Bellini, a Venetian cocktail made with Prosecco and peach juice, and toast to the New Year during the Bellini Brindisi.
La Fenice Theater has concerts to celebrate both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve, however, hosts an elegant party and midnight toast after the performance.
Sleepy or hung-over partiers can take part in an interesting tradition to ‘freshen up’ – a cold swim in the icy waters of Venice’s Lido Beach on New Year’s Day!
Every December 31st, Bologna welcomes in the New Year with the traditional Fiera del Bue Grasso, the Fat Ox Fair! Traditions calls for an ox to be decorated in flowers and ribbons and then paraded through the streets. Fireworks illuminate the sky and the crowd lights candles as the ox navigates the town. The best and most quirky part is the lottery. Crowd members receive a number and at the end of the night, whoever's number is drawn receives the ox!
The highlight of the night is the burning of the "vecchione", an enormous structure of an old man, in Piazza Maggiore. The crowd cheers and dances around the structure as the flames burn through the night. This is a site not to miss!
Lovers of fireworks should head south to Naples. One of the largest displays lights up the city’s Bay, casting gold, red and green reflections onto the water. The hot place to be is the enormous Piazza del Plebiscito that holds an annual outdoor party with music. Expect to dance deep into the night under the starry sky. However, visitors should be warned: fireworks are not the only things up in the air! Naples is one of the few cities that still, although rarely, practices the tradition of throwing old objects out of the windows! "Out with the old, In with the new" is taken to a new level as chairs, blow dryers and random items fall to liter the streets below! So if you’re wandering around old Napoli, do keep an eye out!
Traditions at home
Italy is an enchanting country, but perhaps one of the best times to really witness the people and traditions come alive is during the holidays. Although piazzas and indoor venues offer New Year’s celebrations, some Italians still choose to celebrate La Festa di San Silvestro, the feast day of Saint Sylvester on December 31, with a large traditional dinner with family or friends. In many parts of Italy, a dish in this hearty feast is lentils, which signify good fortune in the coming year. Cotechino, a large cooked salami, or zampone, stuffed pig’s leg, are also often enjoyed. Legend says eating pork will bring good luck for the New Year. Instead of French Champagne, Italian Prosecco or vino spumante, sparkling wine, is popped at midnight.