New Year’s Eve is celebrated with fireworks all over Italy and often with music and dancing in the main square of a town or city. Bonfires are still lit in some towns, especially smaller places in the south, and in some places a straw figure of an old man is thrown into the fire at midnight. Many nightclubs and restaurants have special New Year’s Eve events too.
Here are 5 top places to ring in the new year, Capodanno, in Italy. 2020 events have been cancelled but hopefully they will return in 2021
Ringing in the New Year in Rome
Live outdoor music and dancing can be found in several places in Rome, starting around 8 or 9PM and lasting until after midnight. Top spots to go are usually the Circus Maximus, Piazza del Popolo, and via dei Fori Imperiali, the street that runs by the Roman Forum to the Colosseum (note: these may be cancelled for 2016/2017 New Year’s Eve). Of course nightclubs throughout the city have music, dancing, and special events. A classical music concert is usually held in the square by the Quirinale at 11PM and several theaters have symphonies or opera.
For a complete guide to what to do, see Rome New Year’s Eve on Romewise.
The Big Kiss in Venice
In Venice the biggest outdoor celebration takes place in Saint Mark’s Square. There’s lots of live music and a big communal kiss in the square at the stroke of midnight as the bells ring in the campanile, followed by a toast and a big fireworks display over the Grand Canal. Note that boots are recommended in case of high water. You can watch the celebrations of the Pizza San Marco webcam. The big group kiss and celebration are also usually held in Piazza Ferretto in Mestre.
For a chilling start to the new year, head to the beach on Venice Lido for the traditional New Year’s morning swim.
Huge Fireworks Display in Naples
The lively city of Naples is known for having one of Italy’s biggest and best fireworks displays. There are many outdoor music events throughout the city. A couple of the best places are in Piazza del Plebiscito and along the Lungomare Liberato. Some people still follow the tradition of throwing old things out the window so be careful when you’re walking!
During the day on December 31, the historic San Carlo Theater offers guided tours with a short musical presentation and special welcome drink (coffee or prosecco) in the cafe.
Umbria Jazz in Orvieto
Enjoy music in the medieval hill town of Orvieto in the winter edition of Umbria Jazz, with concerts held from December 28 through January 1 (including a 1AM concert) and music throughout the town in various venues or outdoors. There’s also a fireworks display.
Dance the Night Away in Rimini
With its many nightclubs, the seaside town of Rimini is known as a nightlife hot spot, making it a top place for New Year’s Eve revelry. A big festival with outdoor music and dancing is held in Piazzale Fellini and at midnight there’s a huge fireworks display over the sea. Rimini’s events are often shown on television.
Italian New Year’s Eve Customs
Customs vary by region but some are common in most parts of Italy. As you would expect in Italy, the food is important. Lentils, symbolizing money, are usually eaten on New Year’s Eve to bring good fortune in the coming year. New Year’s Eve dinner often includes cotechino, a type of spiced sausage, or zampone, stuffed pig’s trotter, said to symbolize richness of life or in some places by the sea capitone, eel, for good luck. A glass of prosecco, spumante, or other sparkling wine is usually drunk to ring in the new year.
One fairly recent custom that’s caught on in most of the country is wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve, possibly a symbol of good luck. So if you’re going, be sure to bring a pair or head to the local outdoor market.
Image source: Bella Baita B&B
If you go: Keep in mind that top events can be very crowded. Streets nearby will most likely be closed and parking lots full. Check public transportation for special schedules or better yet, choose something you can get to on foot. If you’re going somewhere that requires tickets or reservations, be sure to do it in advance. It’s likely to be cold in most of the country so dress warmly if you’re staying outdoors all night. Some of the biggest events are televised so if you’d rather stay in your hotel room with a bottle of prosecco, you can still see the festivities.
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