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Thanksgiving in Rome

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

Life as an expat can be like a traveling circus trying to maintain and create traditions in countries that are not your own. I have lived overseas for almost 20 years now and Thanksgiving is my family's most beloved celebration. I could take or leave Christmas, Easter is nice, but usually comes with volatile weather, Halloween is way less fun with a teenager than it was with a toddler. In Niamey Niger, on the edge of the Sahara desert, I cooked turkeys that were imported from Paris for bewildered French friends. In Harare Zimbabwe I taught Belgians how to make a killer pumpkin pie. Now here in Rome, my butcher knows the measurements of my oven and we host the feast on the Saturday after the traditional Thursday so that my international gypsy mix of American, Italian, South African, Bruneian and UK friends can all attend.

Thanksgiving in Rome requires some advance planning. First of all is Thanksgiving Day. It is almost always a work/school day, making the traditional bacchanalian mid-day feast hard to pull off. Our solution to this is to hold the celebration on Saturday instead. There are several restaurants that are serving traditional buffets for dinner on Thursday November 24.

Here are a few of my resources to help you celebrate this most American of holidays here in Rome. (With updates for 2016.)

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

If you are cooking at home:

Turkeys are easy to find in Rome. In pieces. To get the whole bird we are are used to for the holiday you will need to order it in advance from a butcher. Make sure you know exactly how large your oven is.

Pumpkin, Pecans and Cranberry Sauce

Castroni is your best best for one stop shopping. You will find canned pumpkin and ocean spray cranberry sauce and small bags of pecans here. 

I find making pumpkin pie from local pumpkins a great deal of work for a kind of water-logged pie. You can also try butternut squash, which you can find at the Circo Massimo Farmers market and the Esquilino market. 


While you are there stocking up on 100 count packages of tea-lights and extra wine glasses stop by the food section where I stick up on fried onions for the top of green bean casserole and lingonberry jam, which I use in place of cranberry sauce. 

If you would like to have someone else do the work:

This new spot in Monteverde is taking orders for your Thanksgiving dessert needs. Wow your guests with homemade pies, cupcakes and cakes with the ease of a quick message on Facebook. 

You can have the Villa Pamphilli park (almostall to yourself if you dine at Vivi Bistro for your Thanksgiving feast. 

One of Rome's most elegant hotels is serving an equally elegant menu.

The following venues have not confirmed events for Thanksgiving 2016 but check on the Rome for Expats Facebook page for updates. 

Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria hotel 

This grand resort hotel in the north of Rome will be serving an all you can eat buffet or if you prefer to eat at home they also have a takeout option that must be ordered 48 hours in advance. 

Ristorante Mama's

Head out the on the via Flaminia for a boisterous festive feast. Find all the details on the Facebook event page.

Closed until Spring 2017
Hotel Eden

You can eat a delicious (quasi) traditional meal in one of the best restaurants in town and know that you are helping the World Food Program feed a child at the same time. 


You can watch the game with friends and fans at the Highlander Pub from 18:30 until the wee hours of the morning. They will also be serving an all you can eat Thanksgiving buffet. 

Watch the Parade

You can follow the parade route via the Macys website or via live camera feed on Earthcam

For more Thanksgiving resources download my ebook Rome for Expats 


  1. Pecans can also be had from Emporio delle Spezie in Testaccio (they also have an on-line shop: )

  2. Another tip I received over on the Rome for Expats Facebook page:

    Hey there
    just wanted to share a recent discovery in Trastevere: Pasquilino's shop. He sells PECANS (whole and shelled), masa harina (PAN brand), and a million different spices, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, grains in bulk, olives, sauces, pates, fresh porcini, cheese, baccala, etc. Prices are VERY reasonable and the majority of products are from Italy. Definitely worth checking out. Here's the website- it's not updated yet though with the new address.
    Here's the contact info:
    Via Portuense 96/E
    cell: +39 339-244-1350 or +39 333-912-0732

    just for the record, I have no connection with this shop, I'm just an expat who's thrilled to see new shops open in my neighborhood that offer different things that are high quality & local!