6 Things You Should Know Before Coming to Italy – Christmas Edition

Being back to Italy for the holidays made me remember about my “Things You Should Know Before Coming to Italy” posts (if you haven’t check them out yet click here & here πŸ˜‰ ) and since it seemed you’ve enjoyed them quite a lot I thought about writing a *Christmas Edition* version, hope you’ll like it as well! πŸ™‚

So, let’s start!

1 | No decorations before December 8

December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, is the day we officially start setting up all the Christmas decorations (lights, trees and every Christmassy item you can imagine!)

2 | Food Marathon Days

I know in some countries the 24th-25th-26th December are defined as “the three days of Christmas” well, I guess that here in Italy we could define them “food marathon days”. Indeed, we generally start eating the 24th evening, and practically end the 26th evening. Then a little break until the 31st when there is the famous “Cenone” (big dinner) for celebrating New Year’s Eve. Practically at the end of the holidays you don’t know if it’s better rolling down the stairs or spending the rest of your days laying on the sofa πŸ˜€

3 | It’s all about Pandoro, Panettone & Torrone

Talking about food, especially desserts, during this special time of the year the only desserts that are conceived are:

A sweet yeast bread (there are different kind of flavours: plane, chocolate vanilla…) typically served with icing sugar and Mascarpone cream (a cream made of mascarpone, loads of eggs and milk)


Very similar to Pandoro but smaller and full of candied fruit.


A sweet (very sweet) made of honey, almonds or other nuts, sugar and eggs white.


4 | It’s not over until the Befana arrives

January 6 is the official day Christmas ends, the day the “Befana” arrives. The Befana is designed as an old, not really good looking lady which travels on her broom (kind of a witch) during the night between the 5th and 6th and bring candies inside socks. Nowadays kinds find their socks full of different types of candies but the very typical tradition says that besides candies the Befana should also bring coal, if it’s black it means you’ve been a bad boy/girl while if it’s white you’ve behaved well πŸ™‚

5 | Presepi everywhere

I suppose you all know Italy is quite a religious country, because of this, it very often, like very very often normal to find miniatures of the nativity scene, inside/outside churches, along some streets, in people’s houses (the presepio is often made the same day the Christmas tree is set up, December 8)

6 | Lenticchie & Cotechino, otherwise no luck for you

Going back to food topics (yeah, it’s never ending!!), as soon as mid-night arrives, after the very big (and long) dinner, like if people are not full enough, Β it is very typical to eat Lenticchie (lentils) and Cotechino (a gelatinous pork sausage in a natural casing). Actually, it is said that if you eat it it brings you luck (in particular money) for all the year!


Are there any ChristmasΒ traditions in your country? I’d love to hear them in the comments below! πŸ˜‰



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  • Reply Ellie

    I had my first Christmas abroad in Rome. Oh how I miss Pandoro! I actually waited in line in the rain for midnight mass at the St. Peter’s. We had no idea you needed tickets. Two nuns from Central America where my husband was from, gave us a pass. We saw the last mass of Pope John Paul. The best part was, we were escorted to a side entrance and was only a few pews away. Italy is truly magical at Christmas time. πŸ™‚ Happy holidays. -Ellie

    24/12/2016 at 5:07
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Oh wow that must be a wonderful memory you have! Thank you for reading and for sharing! Happy holidays Ellie! πŸ™‚

      24/12/2016 at 17:35
  • Reply Serena - Sognandoviaggi

    Ciao! Colgo l’occasione per farti tantissimi auguri di Buon Natale!!! πŸ™‚ Serena

    24/12/2016 at 14:44
  • Reply Len

    Wow! A meal that lasts 3 days. I guess it must be difficult for someone who is on diet. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and enjoy your meal πŸ™‚

    24/12/2016 at 15:12
  • Reply Tay

    I love it when you tell us about traditions! It’s always interesting to see differences. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    24/12/2016 at 18:06
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Oh thank you for reading and for this lovely comment Tay! Glad you liked it! Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

      24/12/2016 at 23:24
  • Reply Jenny

    Food marathon?!? Oh man, I need to get to Italy, they know what theyre doing over there! I totally love the no decorations till after the 8th, I feel the same way because as soon as Halloween is over, people skip right over Thanksgiving and go right to Christmas…Christmas can’t start till after lol Love the traditions- I loved reading them!

    xo, JJ

    24/12/2016 at 20:31
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Hahaha yes you definitely have to come!! Oh same in London, after October it was already all about Christmas!!
      Thanks for reading Jenny! Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

      24/12/2016 at 23:25
  • Reply Silvia Demick

    That’s all so true! I had my first Christmas meal a couple of hours ago and the food marathon will last until December 31. I will roll instead of walk before New Year’s Eve…
    Merry Christmas, Lisa πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

    24/12/2016 at 23:34
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Haha I feel you Silvia!! Thank you for reading and Merry Christmas to you as well! 🌟 🌟

      26/12/2016 at 21:29
  • Reply poorpartygirl

    Really good information. The only thing I knew about was rhe panettone.

    24/12/2016 at 23:50
  • Reply Nano @ #TravelWithNanoB

    Oooooooh, I am such a fan of panettone. You got my mouth water!!

    25/12/2016 at 14:48
  • Reply Carmen

    Love this post! Great tips for visitors! This makes me want to go back and visit.

    26/12/2016 at 17:17
  • Reply Paula

    Ciao Lisa! It’s my second Christmas spent in Italy, and I loved it! In Brazil we also have the tradition of big feasts, and foodwise we have some similarities… Christmas doesn’t exist without a good panettone! πŸ˜‹

    26/12/2016 at 18:07
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Ciao! Thank you for stopping by! Ahh yes exactly Panettone is a must! Interesting to know we’re not the only country thinking about food! πŸ˜€ Happy holidays! πŸ™‚

      26/12/2016 at 21:32
  • Reply Zahra

    Cool. You gave me wanderlust though. Hope I’ll be able to visit Italy one day.

    27/12/2016 at 9:42
  • Reply Alina

    I love how everything in Italy is centred around food πŸ˜‰ Though I should admit that in most of countries, if it is a “Christmas edition”, everything is centred around food! Enjoy your holidays πŸ™‚

    27/12/2016 at 9:47
  • Reply Katie Foley

    Oh my goodness, I would love to spend Christmas in Italy! This is great!

    27/12/2016 at 15:16
  • Reply Vibeke

    Great post with useful info πŸ™‚ I would love to go there during Christmas maybe less people than during the summer months? πŸ™‚

    27/12/2016 at 17:08
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      Thank you! Well I guess it depends which city you’re considering going, cities like Rome and Venice are always full of tourist πŸ˜€ But yes this season is less crowded in general πŸ™‚

      27/12/2016 at 20:39
  • Reply Cori

    This is neat information. It’s funny how different Christmas is in different countries. I find it entertaining that in the US fruitcake is the ultimate joke, but it’s so popular in other countries!

    27/12/2016 at 17:53
  • Reply Clarissa

    I loved reading this!! Such different traditions <3 We're getting married next November and are heavily considering a "Christmas in Italy" vacation so this is something to keep in mind! <3

    -Clarissa @ The View From Here

    27/12/2016 at 19:25
  • Reply Suvi

    Hi Lisa – sounds very interesting and many facts I never knew! Food Marathon – count me in πŸ˜› I’m not religious at all but I like looking at the nativity scenes – sounds great with finding them all over the place. <3

    27/12/2016 at 22:07
  • Reply Marie Green

    Love spending Christmas in Rome! I remember my first time walking around viewing the Presepi and there was no baby Jesus in the manger. I asked my Italian friends why and they said it was because he had not been born yet :). Fantastic! In the US I always see baby Jesus as soon as decorations go up but in Italy you don’t see him until Christmas day. πŸ™‚

    28/12/2016 at 18:18
    • Reply Lisa // Fromdreamtoplan

      I’m glad you enjoyed Marie! Ahh yess so ture, I guess it’s a detail I didn’t specify! πŸ™‚

      28/12/2016 at 21:46
  • Reply Allison

    This is SUCH a great post! I had no idea about any of that! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    29/12/2016 at 2:46
  • Reply Nicki

    All so true, I live in Italy too and am still full from the food marathons, plus I was invited to 2 English Christmas tea parties and a traditional English Christmas lunch as well! Far too much food!

    29/12/2016 at 12:23
  • Reply Oyinkan

    I never knew the decoration rule! This is good to know!

    30/12/2016 at 18:57
  • Reply Arianna Rose

    I wasn’t aware of any of those things! Thank you for sharing this. As far as my traditions, I celebrate Hanukah so there’s the lighting of the candles and receiving one small gift for each of the nights.


    31/12/2016 at 22:20
  • Reply Gabrielle Crystal RoseBonniee ~

    Looks like an interesting experience! I would like to visit Italy πŸ™‚

    * Blog de la Licorne *

    06/01/2017 at 18:19
  • Reply Hannah

    I love Italy! My family are from just outside Venice! Cannot wait to go there in April xxx

    01/02/2017 at 13:53
  • Reply Stella

    Love this post! I am headed to Italy for Thanksgiving to visit my sister who lives just outside of Florence. Hopefully some of these tips will still apply around that time of year. Too bad the Christmas decorations won’t be out yet.

    26/10/2017 at 18:16
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