After the celebrations of Christmas winds down, all across the globe, we all prepared to commemorate New Year’s Eve, with a rich and sumptuous dinner, as well as a slew of parties and other events. Italy is not only full of masterpieces of art, massive monuments, coasts and islands to dream of, but we’re also well known for our old traditions and culture, present in every corner of the country.
Of course it’s impossible for me describe all of them, particularly those concerning New Year’s celebrations, but I’ll talk about the most original and famous ones.
One of the oldest traditions in Italy, at this particular time of year, is to throw some old pieces of broken glass and plates out of the window; to eliminate any negative energy that is believed to have accumulated during the old year. Maybe, if you were in a big Italian city, you’d noticed some damage done to cars or passes-by.
Just as midnight strikes, all Italian cities, towns and villages offer an amazing firework display, while we all toast to the New Year.
During New Year’s Eve, in some Italian places, groups of young people sing in the streets, with best wishes for the New Year and the “Strenna,” a request for gifts, as we look out the windows and toss them some coins. At midnight, it is tradition for us to eat lentils and pork sausage. Lentils are the symbol of luck and money, so I advice you to eat them a lot!
Another original tradition is counting down to the New Year, by swallowing a total of twelve grapes – one for each month of the year, and as we open our bottles of the best Italian sparkling wine, we dip a finger into the glass and dash it behind our ears, as it is believed to bring a lot of good luck.
And finally, the most important thing is to wear red underwear on this special evening. But, pay attention; you must get rid of it the day after!
Italians love traditions, so they often spend New Year’s Eve in the privacy of their own home, decorated for the occasion, with family and friends. Naturally, the crowning part of the whole event is the Great Dinner (Cenone). The typical Italian foods, accompanying the lentils, are dried fruit, pomegranate and grapes. However, we also serve many luxurious dishes like lobster, oyster, salmon, caviar and countless desserts such as nougat and Pandoro stuffed with cream.
In addition to eating and listening to music, we also enjoy other home activities like playing bingo and other card games. Many Italian towns organize free shows in the streets and squares. In Rome, Naples, Florence, Turin and many others you can catch a concert, event, festival or outdoor disco. In the wonderful and historical city of Orvieto, in Umbria, we have the opportunity to help out at the Umbria Jazz Winter Show.
It’s not only at home that we like celebrating New Year’s Eve, however. Many Italians will choose to go out to a luxury restaurant or leave for a brief holiday. One of the most beautiful cities in the world is certainly Rome, and we all should, at least once in our lifetimes, try to visit around this time of year. There are so many wonderful restaurants, where we can enjoy delicious dishes and great live music, dance competitions and cabaret shows. For the younger people and lovers of disco dancing, the kingdom of nightlife is Milan, with one of the most prestigious clubs called “Hollywood.” Here the night is long and full of great fun and buzz.
Italians are well known for being very romantic people, so going to Venice to celebrate the start of 2015 would have been a necessity. For the New Year celebrations, the city is dressed up with decorations from ‘Thousand and One Nights,’ flooding the streets, narrow-ways, suspension bridges over the Canal Grande and quaint stores.
As soon as we finish dining at one of the local restaurants, we can’t miss out on the big party in St. Marco Square, with its wonderful fireworks show, and the charming kisses that all lovers share.
Another amazing way to spend New Year’s Eve is in Cortina D’Ampezzo, a little town on top of the mountains, where you can sleep in a wood cabin with a warm fireplace, while it’s snowing outside. For the people who love to relax, the lake is a great alternative. On the Como Lake, you can dine, dance and enjoy the scenery, while on a boat cruise under a beautiful starry sky.
But if you wanted to celebrate a really memorable evening of the end of year, you would have had to go to Capri, our jewel in the Mediterranean sea. The entire isle welcomes the New Year with a great fireworks show, live music and jugglers, making it look like a majestic torch in the middle of the sea.
When we talk about New Year’s Eve, we aren’t just focused on the sumptuously set table. The main courses may also include pearl necklaces, diamond collars, sparkling jewels, shining ‘bijoux,’ glittering shoes, brilliant bags and gleaming clothes, for looks that are as theatrical, as they are unforgettable. On this special night, where a little excess is allowed, the women often choose a look that’s totally red, or a short or long dress of all-black lace. Naturally, there’s the festive palette of strong, intense colors to be theatrically mixed with the black, and to complete the perfect dress code, we pay special attention to our make-up – with fiery lipsticks, lip glosses, and eye shadows in intense shades of gold and silver. The menfolk would wear dark colors like black or grey, matched with some accessory in red, gold and silver, embellished with a pocket square in satin or brocade.
So, I hope you’ve had a nice virtual trip through Italy with me, and as an old Italian saying goes: “What you do on New Year’s Eve, you’ll do all through the next year.” and with that, I wish you good luck and a fantastic 2015.
Ciao From Italy!