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HOLIDAY

Ten ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018 in Italy

However your 2017 was, Italy is a great place to see it out. You can expect everything from fireworks to feasts, music until dawn and more than one midnight kiss.

Ten ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018 in Italy
New Year's Eve fireworks over Rome's Colosseum. Photo: Vincenzo PintoAFP

The only thing you shouldn’t count on, in fact, is a quiet night in.

READ ALSO: Red pants, smashed plates and bingo: Six reasons why Italian New Year is awesome

1. Stay in, pig out

To celebrate New Year’s like an Italian, you don’t have to go out – but you do have to eat. The classic way to spend the night is at dinner with loved ones.


Photo: aizram18/DepositPhotos

Tradition dictates the menu: lentils to symbolize wealth and health (their round, flat shape and golden-brown colour resembles coins, while they’re long-lasting and so represent longevity), pork sausage (or for the brave, stuffed pig’s trotters) to symbolize riches, and grapes or dried fruit to round it all off: they ensure you’ll be frugal with your new-found wealth, because it was thought that only someone with excellent willpower could save grapes from the spring harvest until the New Year meal.

If you don’t want to cook, many restaurants offer a New Year’s menu. Just remember to book ahead.

2. Out with the old


Photo: victoriagam/DepositPhotos

If you’ve had a rough year, Italy has the custom for you: breaking things. In parts of the south it’s traditional to throw things – old plates, pans, clothes, anything you no longer want – out the window to show you’re ready for a new start. Like spring cleaning, but louder and more dangerous (and more fun).

3. Make some noise

December 31st is one of the loudest nights of the year in Italy, partly because it’s full of Italians and partly because there’s an old belief that evil spirits hate noise. Therefore, the superstition goes, making a lot of it at midnight on NYE will keep the demons away for the coming year.


Photo: jukai5/DepositPhotos

Favourite ways to get loud include setting off fireworks (more on that later), banging together pots and pans at your front door, or simply popping open a bottle of Prosecco.

4. Music galore

There are plenty of more tuneful sounds on New Year’s Eve. After the cenone (big meal) comes the concertone (big concert): cities across Italy go all out to put on music in the heart of town, many of which are free.

One of the biggest parties in Italy is in Rimini, which considers itself the capital of New Year’s celebrations. The seaside town’s Piazza Fellini hosts an open-air concert of Italian pop, while there’s a DJ playing at the Sismondo Castle.


Photo: Comune Rimini/Flickr

More than 100 artists will perform in Naples’ Piazza del Plebiscito before the seafront Via Caracciolo turns into an open-air disco. Milan hosts a huge concert in the Piazza Duomo featuring rapper Fabri Fibra, Florence has Italian pop in the Piazzale Michelangelo as well as classical musicians and marching bands in other squares around the centre, while Turin has an indoor benefit at its PalaAlpitour arena (tickets cost €3 with all proceeds going to charity).

Fans of Italian opera can enjoy an evening dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, where Piazza Università and Piazza Duomo will both host concerts dedicated to the local composer. Jazz more your thing? Check out the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival in Orvieto, where the party will finish in the streets.


Photo: Umbria Lovers/Flickr

And Rome has organized 24 hours of not just music but theatre, dance, circus tricks and cinema, outdoors and free of charge. Most of the fun takes place along the Tiber and in and around the Circo Massimo – where there will be an actual circus performing – while the ancient monuments of the Palatine Hill will be lit up for the occasion for the first time in 13 years.

5. Midnight at the museum

If you need a break from the noise, Italy’s cultural institutions can provide it: some museums will open throughout the night on December 31st.


Inside the Palazzo Ducale. Photo: Gabriele Bouys/AFP

Check out Picasso masterpieces at midnight at the Palazzo Ducale in Genova, where eight of the city’s famous Palazzi dei Rolli will also be open to visitors until the early hours (book ahead). The newly opened Museum of the Ancient Delta in Comacchio, meanwhile, will celebrate its first ever New Year’s Eve with a guided tour and gala dinner amongst its artefacts.

A word to the wise: if you’re counting on visiting a museum any time around New Year’s, make sure you check the opening hours beforehand. Some museums close early or altogether on December 31st or January 1st.

5. Party like it’s 1599

If you’re looking for an “only in Italy” New Year, it’s hard to top the celebrations at magnificent Estense Castle in Ferrara.


Photo: giac o)))/Flickr

Fight the passing of one year by going back several centuries to a Renaissance-themed New Year’s Eve banquet, complete with period food, music and costumes. Or, if you're looking for a cheaper option, watch the spectacular free fireworks show above the castle walls at midnight.

6. Pay the piper

It’s an old Neapolitan tradition that amateur musicians, some with instruments they made themselves, would go from house to house on New Year’s Eve. In return for their performances, residents would give the minstrels a few coins or something to eat.

The custom, called sciuscio, can still be found here and there around Naples – most reliably, in the pretty port of Gaeta up the coast. Young musicians dressed in red and white roam the town’s medieval quarter on New Year’s Eve playing traditional tunes. If you see them, be sure to give them something: it’s considered bad luck to send them away empty-handed.

7. Burn away the blues

Another New Year's tradition not to be missed takes place in Bologna, where each December 31st a specially made dummy known as the Vecchione (the old man) is ceremonially flung on a bonfire to symbolize the end of the old year.


Photo: Alessandro Gamberi/Flickr

The burning takes place at midnight in Piazza Maggiore, but get there earlier to enjoy a concert beforehand. And make sure you get a look at the Vecchione before he goes on the fire: each year the dummy is designed by a different artist. 

8. Work the fireworks

Fireworks are everywhere on New Year’s Eve in Italy: not just overhead but seemingly in every courtyard, car park and street corner, especially in the south.


Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Some of the biggest and most beautiful displays in Italy are in Rome, where sparks light up the Colosseum; Florence, where the rockets are reflected in the Arno; Venice, where the bangs echo over the lagoon; and Naples, where the riotous display over the Castel dell’Ovo lasts for up to an hour.

9. Kiss everyone

A midnight kiss is traditional almost everywhere for New Year’s Eve, but Venice takes it to a new level. The last midnight of each year, Piazza San Marco is the scene of a mass kiss-in as tens of thousands of people see in the new year with a snog.


Photo: Sebastian Casellati/AFP

It might have something to do with bringing love and peace, it might just be that people want a smooch – either way, it’s a lot of fun. If you can’t make it to the floating city, find a willing partner (or ten) and recreate the tradition wherever you are in Italy.

10. See in the sunrise

It’s 1 am, the fireworks are over, everyone’s been kissed, you’ve had a great night – time for bed, right? Not in Italy. Italians typically stay up til the dawn of New Year’s Day, so be prepared to chase your Prosecco with an expresso.


Photo: arkade/DepositPhotos

Close your Italian New Year’s Eve by watching the first sunrise of the year at around 7:30 am. The most spectacular place to do it is Otranto in Apulia, the easternmost point of Italy and the first town to see the rising sun. Or if you’re in Rome, make your way to the Ponte della Scienza bridge to hear jazz pianist Daniele Rea accompany the sun-up.

Wherever you are for it, The Local hopes your New Year’s Eve is happy, healthy, and Italian. Buon anno! 

FIREWORKS

Firework kills 13-year-old boy in Italy on New Year’s Eve

A 13-year-old boy was killed, 79 people injured, and huge numbers of birds left dead by New Year’s Eve fireworks in Italy, despite local bans on personal firework displays.

Firework kills 13-year-old boy in Italy on New Year's Eve
Fireworks above St Peter's Basilica in Rome on New Year's Eve. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
The boy, from a Roma camp outside the northern Italian city of Asti, died in hospital in the early hours of New Year's Day after a firecracker severely injured his abdomen. 
 
At the same time, the International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) called for a ban on fireworks in a post showing starling carcasses littering a street in Rome. 
 
“It can be that they died from fear. They can fly up together and knock against each other, or hit windows or electric power lines. Let’s not forget they can also die of heart attacks,” said Loredana Diglio, a spokeswoman for the organisation.
 
 

Despite the boy's tragic death, a local ban on personal fireworks displays in Rome, and nationwide lockdown over New Year's Eve meant for an unusually subdued celebrations, with the number of accidents requiring firefighters to be called out was down by two thirds. 
 
Firefighters carried out 229 interventions across Italy over New Year’s Eve, compared with 686 last year, the the department of public security said in over Twitter. 
 
Of the 79 people injured, 23 were hospitalised,
 
Most of of the call-outs were in Lazio, the region surrounding Rome.
 
A woman was taken to hospital in Naples after she was hit on the head by a firecracker splinter while taking the rubbish out. 
 
A man in Milan lost two of his fingers in the most serious incident there, while others across Italy reported injuries to their hands and close to their eyes. 
 
Eight of the total injured were children.
 
OIPA said that the birds dead in the picture appeared to have been killed by a particularly loud display of firecrackers and fireworks in the leafy neighborhood where many of the birds have their nests. 
 
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