Italians love festivals and the ending of the old year and beginning of the new year, il capodanno, is a great time to celebrate in Italy.
New Year's Eve in Italy - La Festa di San Silvestro
La Festa di San Silvestro is celebrated December 31 on New Year's Eve. As with most Italian festivals, food plays a major role. Families and friends get together for a huge feast. The star of the dinner is lentils, symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year. Traditionally, 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.
Fireworks and Dancing
Huge midnight fireworks displays celebrate the coming of the new year. Most towns have public displays in a central square but private parties will also include firecrackers or sparklers, too, and will continue for a long time. Naples is known for having one of the best and biggest New Year's fireworks displays in Italy. Some smaller towns build a bonfire in the central square where villagers will congregate into the early morning. If you're near the coast, lake, or river you will hear boats and ships blowing their horns.
Dancing is also popular and 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.
More 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 Years parties, whether public or private, will often last until sunrise in order to watch the first sunrise of the newborn year.
An old custom that is still followed in some places, especially in the south, 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 near midnight!
Oh, one more thing, don't forget to wear your red underwear to ring in the new year! They say it'll bring you luck in the coming year.
Next on Page 2: Where to Celebrate in Italian Cities