Piazza Navona Christmas market in Rome is on the list of best European Christmas Markets. It is on the ancient site of the Circus of Domitian and has the shape of a stadium because of the games played there in ancient times. As the Christmas season nears, the vendors set up their toys, ornaments and delicious Italian sweets. One of my favorite items were the Christmas figures for the manger scene. It is very difficult and terribly expensive to get the hand-carved wooden figures, but I did see them for sale in the shops near the Vatican. The ones on sale at Navona were plastic but the gifted Italian artists worked their magic with plastic and the expressions and details of clothing etc. are wonderful and the price is much more reasonable.
The last time I went with my husband for a semester in Rome, the students were frantically finishing their design project spending lots of hours on “charette”. ( French word meaning working night and day to finish a project. ) This seems to be the model for architecture students in all countries .. . . . .finishing at the last minute. Well the students didn’t want to be doing this work and missing their last days in Roma. The professor went daily to Navona and bought sweets for a treat for them. He would sit and read in the studio to “encourage work and perseverance!” A posting and exhibition were planned for the last few days where students from other Roman studies’ programs would visit. Quality work was and is important to the professor! One day, Emily called out to David after his candy delivery, “David, are you babysitting?” Which was exactly what he was doing!
Here are some images of Piazza Nanona at Christmas time!
Pinocchio was started in Italy and is a popular children’s gift as well as other puppets.
Puppets are very popular in Italy. I remember traveling around and coming into a small town, going to the piazza in the centro and there would be a puppet show. The most popular are slap-stick stories of Punch and Judy. Men , women, and children would laugh, wildly, at the foolishness!
Stuffed animals galore. . . . . .
Here are some of the delicious sweets!
Decorations and some of the manger figures. . . . .
Beautiful, delicate tree ornaments. . . . . .
Yummy. . . . .
Kid heaven. . . . . . . . . . .
I loved the columns instead of the stable or cave. We bought some columns to use in our nativity. Not bad for plastic figures, right?
Lots of styles and sizes are available. . . . . . .
Buon Natale. . . . . . . .
UPDATE: August 20, 2015
I received a comment today from follower John Dupuny that the market closed permanently at the end of the 2014/2015 season. Be sure and check before going expecting it. I am sad as it was so festival and full of Italian joy!