Italians love festivals and they love fireworks. During il capodanno they have an abundance of both in cities and towns all over Italy, for the celebration marking the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
La Festa di San Silvestro is celebrated December 31 on New Year's Eve. As with most Italian festivals, food plays a major role, and families and friends get together for huge feasts. Tradition calls for lentils to be served on New Year’s Eve, because they symbolize money and good fortune for the coming year.
The dinner in many parts of Italy also includes a cotechino, a large spiced sausage, or a zampone, stuffed pig's trotter. The pork symbolizes the richness of life in the coming year.
New Year’s Fireworks and Dancing in Italy
Most towns in Italy have public fireworks in a central square, with Naples is known for having one of the best and biggest displays in the country. Smaller towns build bonfires in the central square where villagers will congregate into the early morning.
Many towns have public music and dancing before the fireworks. Rome, Milan, Bologna, Palermo and Naples put on huge popular outdoor shows with pop and rock bands. These events can sometimes be seen on television, too.
New Year's Eve Traditions in Italy
Guests of private or public parties are sometimes entertained with a game called "Tombola", similar to Bingo.
The New Year is also celebrated with spumante or prosecco, Italian sparkling wine.
New Year's parties, whether public or private, will often last until sunrise.
An old custom that is still followed in some places, especially in the south of Italy, is throwing your old things out the window to symbolize your readiness to accept the New Year. So, keep an eye out for falling objects if you're walking around outside near midnight!
Oh, one more thing, don't forget to wear your red underwear to ring in the new year. Italian folklore claims this will bring luck in the coming year.
New Year's Eve sees many festive events throughout Italy but the biggest and most popular are in these Italian cities. They’ll be crowded, so plan your visit in advance (including parking, which will be at a premium).
New Year’s Eve in Rome
Rome's traditional New Year's Eve celebrations are centered in Piazza del Popolo. Huge crowds celebrate with rock and classical music and dancing and of course, fireworks. On New Year's day (while the adults are sleeping), children will be entertained in the square by performers and acrobats.
Another good place to celebrate is near the Colosseum on Via dei Fori Imperiali where there will be live music and midnight fireworks. There's usually a classical music concert outdoors on the square in front of the Quirinale, off Via Nazionale also followed by fireworks at midnight.
For an elegant evening with dinner in a great restaurant, panoramic views of Rome and live jazz, try the beautiful Casina Valadier in a park overlooking the city. Several theaters present symphony or opera on New Year's Eve and Rome nightclubs also have special events.
New Year’s Eve in Rimini
Rimini, on the Adriatic coast, is one of Italy's most popular nightlife spots and a top place to celebrate. Besides parties in numerous nightclubs and bars, Rimini holds a huge New Year's Eve festival in Piazzale Fellini. There's music, dancing and entertainment and a spectacular display of fireworks over the sea. The Rimini New Year's Eve festival is usually televised in Italy.
Rimini Travel Guide | Where to Stay in Rimini
New Year’s Eve in Naples and Capri
Naples’ legendary New Year's Eve fireworks are preceded by a huge outdoor music event in Piazza del Plebiscito in the city center where there are usually classical, rock and traditional music concerts. In some parts of Naples, people still throw their old things out of their windows.
A tradition called Lo Sciuscio originated in Naples. Although it’s not as widespread as it once was, it still exists in some smaller towns nearby. Groups of amateur musicians (now mainly children) go from house to house playing and singing on New Year's Eve. Giving them a small gift of money or sweets is said to bring good luck in the new year, while turning them away may bring bad luck.
On the island of Capri near Naples, local folkloric groups usually perform in the Piazzetta in Capri and Piazza Diaz in Anacapri on January 1.
Capri Travel Guide | Where to Stay on Capri
New Year’s Eve in Bologna
Bologna traditionally celebrates New Year's Eve with the Fiera del Bue Grasso (fat ox fair). The ox is decorated from horns to tail with flowers and ribbons. The church bells are rung, spectators light candles and of course, fireworks are set off. At the end, a special lottery is held with the winner getting to keep the ox.
The procession ends just before midnight in Piazza San Petronio. In Piazza Maggiore there are live music, performances, and a street market. At midnight an effigy of an old man, symbolizing the old year, is thrown into a bonfire.
New Year’s Eve in Venice
Many restaurants in Venice go all out with huge feasts on New Year's Eve, starting around 9 p.m. and lasting until midnight. Although expensive, they tend to be very good with many courses and lots of wine. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time because restaurants will fill up early for these special events.
St Mark's Square has a huge celebration with music, a giant fireworks display, bellini brindisi (toast) and a huge group kiss at midnight. The group kiss is also held in Piazza Ferretto in Mestre.
On New Year's Day, many bathers take a chilling dip in the waters of Venice's Lido Beach.
New Year’s Eve in Florence
Many restaurants in Florence will have extravagant meals, as well, and again, you’ll want to be sure to reserve early. Fireworks will be set off at midnight and the bridges on the Arno River provide a perfect vantage point. Florence usually holds public concerts in Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica.
New Year’s Eve in Pisa
Pisa has music and a good fireworks show over the Arno River in the center of town. Pisa's Verdi Theater usually has both a New Year's Eve and New Year's Day concert.
New Year’s Eve in Turin
The city of Turin, in northern Italy's Piedmont region, holds public festivities in Piazza San Carlo. Live music, DJ music, a parade, and fireworks highlight the evening's events.