What is it about Christmas lights? Maybe it’s the warm glow on a chilled night, the ever-surprising combinations, or maybe it’s just because they’re pretty. When I was a little girl it was tradition for my parents to drive my brother and me through the more elaborate displays in Dallas. Neighborhoods would coordinate the twelve days of Christmas house by house, life size gingerbread neighborhoods invited kids onto their lawns, and I was certain Mrs. Claus lived in Highland Park, where she sat in full costume on her porch every night handing out candy canes. Maybe that’s why to me, the holidays don’t feel the same without a little bit of twinkle.
Rome is not the city of lights. We’re often frustrated by detours at night because what is a normal street during the day is pitch black at night. But around this time of year, Rome may not have any Griswald style displays, but it definitely knows how to string some lights.
On Christmas Eve, just after dark, we walked from the Colosseum, to Piazza Venezia, Down Via del Corso, past Piazza Colonna, through the shopping district between Corso and the Spanish Steps, to the Spanish Steps themselves. It was a nice cobbled walk, with roasting chestnuts, churches gearing up for the big night, children dressed in their holiday best, and shop keepers popping prosecco bottles as they closed for the holidays. I’ll let the pictures say the rest.
Christmas lights in Rome are usually of the white, red, green, and LED blue/white variety. This year they changed it up a little by stringing a purple-blue-pink-green-yellow-orange-red rainbow all the way down Via del Corso, one of the main streets in the city center that runs from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. The rainbow, which symbolizes peace and tolerance, managed to start a bit of a controversy around town. You can google it, but I won’t get into it. In these crazy times I thought it was a beautiful statement, and who doesn’t want to walk beneath a giant rainbow?
I might have been humming the Rainbow Bright theme song to myself…possibly.
Later that night around 10:30, we opened our window a crack to listen to the silence. We live on a relatively quiet street, but there is usually the buzz of Motorinos passing by, along with cars, a few buses, the chatter from the restaurant downstairs, sirens from the busier boulevards around us, and the occasional car alarm. We’ve grown used to it, but on Christmas Eve it was near silent. Then the music started from the church about a block away. We hear the church bells all the time, but it has never been quiet enough to hear the actual mass. They must have been using speakers or something. We sat peacefully near the window and listened to the chants and carols echoing down the street reminding us what the day was really about. It was a moment I’m not sure we could have had anywhere else.
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