Want to find out how you could be spending New Year?
Italians are known for their love of celebrations, of festive gatherings full of food, friends, fun, and even fireworks. New Year’s is an especially exciting time to find a party in Italy—they have some fascinating traditions and customs.
It probably isn’t surprising that Italians use food to symbolize their hopes and dreams for the New Year, but did you know that lentils are a traditional menu item because they represent wealth and longevity? Or that sausage is served to symbolize abundance?
And don’t forget grapes, because they signify self-control and frugality—from a time when it required great willpower to save one’s grapes from the spring harvest to enjoy on the New Year.
Of course, don’t forget your red undies if you’re partying in Italy—many Italians believe that red undergarments protect you from evil spirits, encourage fertility, and bring you happiness in the coming year. Don’t be surprised to see red underwear in shop windows or hanging in the streets in the weeks before the New Year.
Italian New Year’s celebrations aren’t for the faint at heart. If you plan to party here, be prepared to dance til dawn. There are no lame parties that fizzle out at midnight in Italy!
Intrigued? Then get ready to try something completely new and exciting this New Year’s season at one of these awesome celebrations. Whether you land in Rome, Florence, Venice, or one of the more off-the-beaten-path destinations, you’ll have a blast celebrating the season in Italy.
1. Enjoy prosecco, performers, and eye-popping fireworks at the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.
If an all-night party with plenty of bubbly in one of the world’s most fascinating cities sounds like your idea of a perfect New Year’s celebration, then you won’t want to miss the bash at the Piazza del Popolo. Watch for the fireworks show at midnight to welcome the new year.
You’ll find plenty of partying all over the city; New Year’s in Rome is famous for its huge New Year’s dinners, free outdoor concerts, and performances (think acrobats and the like). If you love Italian food, you’ll get your fill of regional specialties and uniquely Roman cuisine.
2. Experience the longest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world in Rimini.
Piazzale Fellini is the site of a huge New Year’s Eve festival—it’s so over-the-top, it’s usually televised throughout Italy for all the unfortunate people who aren’t actually in this fabulous coastal town to enjoy it in person.
Rimini loves New Year’s so much, the holiday is actually celebrated from December 1 through January 8 each year, the longest New Year’s celebration in the world. Spend your holiday dancing, ice skating, or sipping Prosecco at an amazing outdoor concert.
3. Incurable romantic? Join the New Year’s Eve “kiss-in” at St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Everyone knows Venice is a city for lovers, but did you know the city holds the record for the world’s largest kiss-in in 2008? The kiss-in is a favorite tradition—it even won an international award for the best New Year’s Eve event!
You can find lots of fascinating things to do on New Year’s in Venice before and after your kiss—fireworks, a romantic boat dinner, or even an opera if that’s your passion. If Venice is on your travel bucket list this year, why not start it off right with New Year’s in this magical city?
4. Do New Year’s Renaissance-style in Florence with fireworks and free music at the Piazzale Michelangelo.
If you’re looking for a more cultured celebration, you definitely want to ring in the New Year in Florence. Start with some fine dining at one of the city’s exquisite restaurants before taking in the free concert in the shadow of Michelangelo’s majestic David, and end your celebration at one of Florence’s famous nightclubs (some venues require tickets, so plan ahead and get your tickets early).
If you’re celebrating the Christmas season in Italy, you’ll love the magical Christmas markets around the city. It’s one of the most beautiful places to get in the Christmas spirit.
5. Witness the ancient tradition of Rogo del Vecchione, literally “burning off the old one,” at Piazza Maggiore in Bologna.
Picture the scene: At precisely midnight, an effigy of the Old Year, designed each year by a different local artist, is wheeled into the piazza and chucked into a massive bonfire, symbolizing the burning off of all of last year’s bad luck, and welcoming the possibilities of the new. It’s a tradition that dates to pre-Christian times, and unlike anything else you’ll find in Italy.
And you definitely won’t want to miss the Fiera del Bue Grasso, or Fat Ox Fair, where a flower bedecked ox is feted and celebrated and eventually raffled off in a lottery for the lucky winner to take home. New Year’s in Bologna is definitely an event to remember.
6. Celebrate like a duke with fireworks and feasting at Estense Castle in Ferrara.
Ferrara might not top your Italy destination list, but it’s definitely worth visiting on New Year’s Eve if you’re into unusual, and some might even say “peculiar,” celebrations. Start your evening with the Banquet of the Duke d’Este, a ducal feast that actually takes place inside the castle itself, a meal that faithfully recreates its Renaissance heritage in food and music.
Then while away the hours until midnight at the free outdoor concert at the Piazza Castello, culminating in the dramatic burning of the castle, created with advanced fireworks and pyrotechnics. If a cultural tour of Italy is just your style, you’ll love Ferrara—it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its Renaissance architecture.
7. Jazz up your New Year with the Umbria Jazz Festival in Orvieto.
Orvieto is one of Tuscany’s hidden gems, its eponymous Orvieto wine among the most popular of all the Umbrian varietals. But the city is famous for much more than its lovely wines: During the winter, the entire town takes on a festival atmosphere and comes alive with the boisterous sounds of jazz. Restaurants, shops, public squares, even churches become makeshift jazz stages for life exhibitions throughout the entire month of December.
On New Year’s Eve, the Umbria Jazz Festival concludes with a “Last Supper of Jazz” at the Duomo of Orvieto, an hours-long open-air concert with plenty of Prosecco. It’s the highlight of this sleepy little mountaintop town, and definitely worth a trip if you want to experience something truly one-of-a-kind for your New Year’s celebration.
8. Fireworks with a view of Vesuvius? Celebrate at the Lungomare in Naples.
Naples is a bustling, gritty, authentic slice of Italian life, but the Lungomare is an exquisite pedestrian-only seafront strip with fabulous views of Mt. Vesuvius and the island of Capri—a charming and romantic respite from the city itself.
The Lungomare is also the perfect place to enjoy the massive fireworks display at the Castel dell’Ovo. Stroll the waterfront and partake of the New Year’s festivities before heading to Piazza del Plebiscito for the free concert and party atmosphere.
9. Dance until dawn at the Piazzetta in Capri.
If you want to party like a rockstar (or a movie star, for that matter), Capri is the place to be. Capri is a well-known destination for the international elite, a place to rub elbows with the truly rich and famous.
And its New Year’s celebration lives up to its reputation, with an all-night dance party at the Piazzetta. The CapriHollywood Film Festival takes place over New Year’s, so be sure to bring your camera in case you spot a few film celebrities getting their groove on to the disco music.
Start the celebrations
Are you ready to spend New Year’s in Italy this year? Have your heart set on one of these amazing celebrations? Get in touch today to find out how easy it is to plan a holiday tour in Italy—and if you’re not quite ready to have a chat, sign up for our free email course to help you plan your ultimate Italian vacation.
Cocktails for Adventurous Palates
While you wait for your Limoncello to be ready to enjoy in tiny glasses after your favorite Italian meal, Saveur magazine gives simple how-to instructions for other popular Italian cocktails.
There’s the classic Negroni, created in Florence nearly a century ago, which is a glorious pink, slightly sweet cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Close your eyes as you sip this and imagine you’re relaxing after an afternoon shopping on the historic Ponte Vecchio in Florence. (The below shot shows Santo Spirito Square in fabulous Florence.)
Along with the delectable flavors of icy gelato that made our top 10 reasons to enjoy summer in Italy you’ll find a delicious Venetian summer cocktail called the Bellini. All you need to cool down with a Bellini is peach puree and sparkling wine (ideally from the spectacular Prosecco wine region of course!), though some bartenders get creative and add peach brandy or mulled cider syrup for variety.
We found it interesting that the UK’s House and Garden magazine calls an Italian cocktail the drink for summer. Their quick and easy-to-follow guide for creating an Aperol Spritz will have you sipping a light, sweet drink made from just a few ingredients (Prosecco, Aperol and soda water garnished with a slice of orange). This drink’s low alcohol content is ideal for warm summer days and nights, perfect to enjoy before or after you indulge in your favorite dish from Italy’s diverse culinary traditions.
Below, a group of happy Tours Italy travelers enjoy a glass of Prosecco during their Avventure Bellissime Wine Region Tour!
You might also want to check out celebrated Italian-American chef Mario Batali’s Italian-inspired version of a Sea Breeze cocktail on his website. To make his highball a little more Italiano he mixes grappa with the Amaro Averna, lime, grapefruit and cranberry juice. Enjoy grappa Mario’s way until you can make Venice your next Italy vacation to try sipping some in the foothills of the spectacular Dolomite Mountains.
Do all these mouth watering Italian summer drinks make you want to book an Italian summer holiday? A little strategic planning can help you stay cool during a hot Italian summer.
Our Italy tour specialists can’t wait to help you discover the best of summer in Italy. Browse our Italy vacation packages or create a custom itinerary now by visiting Avventure Bellissime online to build your very own Italy vacation.