On the eve of the Epiphany, a day it is believed the three kings visited Jesus Christ, Italian folklore celebrates another old pre-Christian tradition in Befana. Much like Santa Claus at Christmas, the old lady arrives in the dead of night providing children with sweets and candy if they’ve been good… but lumps of coal if they’ve been bad. The Piazza Navona hosts Rome’s most popular market from before Christmas through to Epiphany, culminating in the Festa Della Befana. Gifts are handed out to the young during a procession of witches in a carnival like atmosphere. In 1928 the Roman Poet Italian composer Ottorino Respighi wrote an orchestral piece in honour of the festival.
The nearest airports to Rome are Ciampino and Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci International Airport), both of which are less than 45 minutes away. The market in Piazza Navona runs throughout the whole of December up to the 6th January. The event is free to visit and offers sweets, chocolates and other candies. If you are arriving by bus or metro, look for stops entitled Corso Vittorio or Corso Risorgimento. For the grand finale celebrations of the festivities then visit on the evening of the 5th January.
Remember to wrap up warm as the festival is out in the open, with January temperatures in Rome dropping to 8 degrees centigrade. Whilst we may all be big kids at heart, the tradition of Befana is largely aimed at children, so as with Father Christmas remember to embrace your imagination. If you’re not familiar with the old lady, then read the stories before you go to keep the myth alive. When the clock strikes midnight, look up at the windows that surround the square and see if you can spot Befana watching over you.
Choose from a vast selection of properties including villas, apartments, holiday homes and private rentals close to Piazza Navona. If you are looking elsewhere within Rome, it is easy to get around either on foot or via public transport. Check our accommodation in Rome.
The ruins of Ancient Rome are a must visit featuring the famous Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Walking tours are popular, where you will also get to see the Trevi Fountain and the temple of Pantheon. Book a trip to Vatican City, which include the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
Find out more on the Festa della Befana, including: the folklore behind the legend, the history and its origins, traditions, poems and songs, modern day Befana celebrations and links about the Epiphany click here.
If you own a house or apartment, spare room or villa, run a B&B, have your own boat or any other property in and around Rome you can earn extra income with Eventful Stays. List your accommodation today and pay zero commission on the world’s largest event platform.