What to do at Christmas in Rome with the Ryder Cup just around the corner
19 December 2022
The Ryder Cup 2023, the event of the year for golf fans
The 44th edition of golf's greatest team tournament, which sees US and European players face off on the greens, is about to make its debut in the capital. Preceded by three days of build-up to the match, the Ryder Cup 2023 is scheduled to take place from 29 September to 1 October. The venue for the highly anticipated event will be the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio, a club on the outskirts of Rome.
In preparation for the tournament, the golf club has been extensively renovated with a remodelling project to create a world-class playing field, which will allow you, as a passionate spectator, to watch the 2023 Ryder Cup from several vantage points.
The playing field will cover 150 hectares, just 17 kilometres from the centre of Rome, with 27 spectacular holes around a castle, the first structures of which date back to the year 1000. This enchanting setting will become a sporting pilgrimage destination, attracting scores of golfers.
Unmissable golf courses in Rome
If you are planning to stay in the Eternal City over the Christmas period and wish to spend some relaxing time on the golf courses of exclusive clubs, why not challenge yourself on the 18 holes of the Olgiata Golf Club: situated in the northern part of Rome, it is divided into two layouts with courses suitable for different levels. The one in the western part is the oldest and has also been the venue for some of the World Golf Cup events.
The 9-hole Archi di Claudio Golf Club, in the archaeological area of the Via Appia, is also very impressive. Finally, for the less experienced and for those who wish to improve their technique, the Tevere Golf Practice Course, in Tor di Quinto, organises numerous courses with instructors ready to provide valuable advice.
A walk among the cribs, decorations and illuminations of Rome
The atmosphere of Christmas in Rome is evocative, to say the least. What makes the city, already splendid in itself, so compelling are the glittering decorations that adorn every corner of the capital; light installations that extend from the centre to the neighbourhoods and districts, all fully respecting the environment and energy saving.
For instance, if you walk through St. Peter's Square, you will see one of the most impressive Christmas trees, a fir tree that has been donated every year since 1982 from a different location, Italian or European, and which is made all the more attractive by the marvellous nativity scene at the foot of the Vatican Obelisk.
But there are plenty of other representations of the nativity. Examples include the Neapolitan Nativity scene in the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian, dating back to the 18th century, with its monumental dimensions and wooden and terracotta statuettes, set in ancient Rome, which sees the cradle of the baby between the columns of the Trajan Forum. Or the artistic masterpiece of the Nativity scene in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore from 1291, with its stone figurines. Among other things, in the church you can also admire the relic of the Sacred Cradle, that is, the precious fragments of the wood of the famous manger that, according to legend, received the baby Jesus, as well as the panniculum recovered during Christmas 2007 - a portion of the swaddling clothes with which Mary wrapped the baby.
Or again, the characteristic 'Pinellian' nativity scene set up on the Spanish Steps, a recent reconstruction of the 19th century one, with figures and settings inspired by the popular scenes of painter and engraver Bartolomeo Pinelli.
However, the most eagerly awaited twinkling of lights remains that of the Christmas Tree in Piazza Venezia, one of Rome's symbolic sites: the switch-on is traditionally scheduled for 8 December and is one of the most evocative highlights to witness.
What to do in Rome: shopping, art, culture, shows and tasty food
You can also go shopping among the illuminations of the most famous streets in the capital. The Trident is the perfect place for on-trend gifts. The luxurious shop windows of the boutiques in Piazza di Spagna and Via dei Condotti are sure to charm you. You can also enjoy shopping in Via del Corso, a true open-air shopping centre.
To make this Roman Christmas unforgettable, there are a whole host of art, culture and entertainment events. These include the great exhibition dedicated to Van Gogh in the sumptuous Palazzo Bonaparte in Piazza Venezia, or the timeless Don Quixote at the Opera House. And again the Christmas Concert - Fairy Tales in Music by the Orchestra and Choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conducted by Stanislav Kochanovsky. Not to be missed is the Befana Market in Piazza Navona.
Finally, enjoy the flavours of traditional recipes and, in between fresh fish from the coast and breaded or grilled abbacchio (lamb), enjoy a glass of Castelli wine, but leave some room for a typical Roman dessert, pangiallo - a typical Roman Christmas cake.