Tennessee-born blogger Gillian McGuire compiles an indispensable guide to her adopted Roman hometown for expats and visitors. Read on for her guide to the city

After many years in Africa I moved to Rome in 2006, and fell in love at first sight with its chaotic beauty. I spent my first year walking every cobblestoned street and seeking out every Caravaggio painting. All these years later I still delight at the glimpse of the Colosseum from my front door, and I love sharing my discoveries of this stupendous place.

The festive holidays linger in Rome with decorations sparkling until the end of January and streets and palazzos dressed up with lights to brighten the winter darkness. Wander through the Tridente shopping area around via del Corso, via Condotti and via Borgognona to see both classic and more whimsical window designs. The towering Fendi palazzo display is always a showstopper. You’ll find decorated trees at the top of the Spanish Steps, at the Colosseum and in Piazza Venezia; the enormous tree in St Peter’s Square is not lit until Christmas Eve.

New Year’s Eve in Rome is La Festa di San, a party that lasts into the wee hours.  You can dine on lobster and truffles and sip chilled prosecco at midnight in the elegant Antico Arco restaurant, 7 Piazzale le Aurelio, atop the Giancolo hill and so with a perfect view of the fireworks. For something rowdier join the masses in the via Fori Imperiale for an evening of concerts and comedy, and midnight fireworks above the Colosseum. 

Celebrations go on until the evening of January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, when the witch La Befana flies over the Piazza Navona dropping candy and ‘’sweet coal” to children waiting below. All the way through January it is still the season to eat panettone, a tall, yeasted bread studded with candied fruit or chocolate, and pandoro, a golden star-shaped cake dusted with icing sugar. Find the best at Antico Forno Roscioli at 34 Via dei Chiavari, Romeo at 26/a Via Silla, and Cristalli di Zucchero at 88 Via di San Teodoro.

Photo by Alamy

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