Thanksgiving in Rome - UPDATED 2017
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
Here are a few of my resources to help you celebrate this most American of holidays here in Rome. (With updates for
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 bet 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. Try using 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 the 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, Here are some updated 2017 Thanksgiving venues:
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.
Dine at Vivi Bistro for your Thanksgiving feast with a view of Piazza Navona.
The newly renovated Hotel Eden is doing turkey with all trimmings in their rooftop dining room.
This grand resort hotel in the north of Rome will be serving an all you can eat antipasto buffet and a plate of traditional turkey, sides, and desserts.
Head out the on the via Flaminia for a boisterous festive feast. Find all the details on the Facebook event page.
From 11:30 am until 5 minutes to Midnight there will be turkey and pie (and in the evening live gospel music) at the Hard Rock Cafe.
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 from 18:30-20:00.
Watch the Parade
For more Thanksgiving resources download my ebook Rome for Expats.