Day 94, Thursday December 7, 2017
We stopped at St. Peter’s Square and we were delighted to see that the Christmas tree was lit up. I thought that the lights weren’t turned on until just before Christmas, so this was a pleasant surprise.The lights were just turned on at dusk today and they were still cleaning up so we had to sit about 15 minutes until we were allowed into the square.The manger scene has life size figures and there are several rather peculiar additions to the traditional manger scene we are used to. We don’t know why some of the figures look like pirates, and have no idea what the nude figure on the right is all about. There is no baby Jesus in sight yet.
This is the largest Christmas tree we have ever seen, and it is very beautifully decorated with lots of lights and big ornaments painted by children in hospitals across Italy who are receiving treatment for cancer as well as children affected by earthquakes in Italy the past two years.
We walk all the way to Nuovo Piazza to see the Christmas Market. That turns out be a big disappointment. No market, no Christmas lights, and no promised Carousel. Apparently there was some sort of political scandal a few years ago. The powers to be tried to restrict the vendors at the market to those who sold hand made items so all the vendors withdrew in support of those not allowed to sell their ware. It was supposed to be back this year, but nothing is here. Too bad. We were expecting a market similar to the one we saw in Madrid a couple years ago. Further research has revealed that “Rome’s Befana Christmas market, which was scheduled to return to Piazza Navona after three years on 2 December, has so far failed to open due to an argument between the city and stallholders over who pays for security.”
I had Googled where to see Christmas lights in Rome, so next we walked to Via dei Coronari. We did find a few lights but not enough to entice us to keep walking so we called it night. Italy does not have a tradition of putting up Christmas lights and Christmas trees. Pope John Paul II put up the first Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square in 1982. Now every year the tree comes from a different European country as a gift to the Pope. This year’s tree is from Poland. There are a few more lights and trees around the city, but nothing like the amazing Christmas lights and decorations we saw in Spain.
If you want to find out about the strange figures, including the naked man, in the Vatican Nativity Scene check out this link.