Rome's English tea rooms celebrates its 125th anniversary with a free Christmas concert on the Spanish Steps on 5 December.Babingtons, the historic English tea rooms in Rome, hosts a free Christmas concert at the Spanish Steps on 5 December, celebrating the date in 1893 when two English women - Isabel Cargill and Anne Marie Babington - decided to open the traditional English tea shop.
The concert of Christmas carols, sung by the Choir of the Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia, will take place from 19.00-19.30 on the 18th-century staircase outside the family-run tea rooms, whose original shop sign has been restored for the occasion.
The concert is the culimination in a series of events celebrating Babingtons' 125th anniversary, organised by its current owners, cousins Chiara Bedini and Rory Bruce, the great-grandchildren of Isabel Cargill.
The original idea behind establishing Babingtons in 1893 was to cater to the city's influx of English-speaking visitors, many of whom had taken up residence in Rome, as well as those just passing through.
Babingtons was designed to provide these guests with refreshments and the chance to read English newspapers, at a time in Italy when tea could only be bought in pharmacies and when newspapers in English arrived days after publication in London.
Originally the tea room was sited on Via dei Due Macelli, a sideroad off Piazza di Spagna, but the success of its first year saw it relocate to its current address, Piazza di Spagna 23, on the opposite side of the Spanish Steps to the Keats-Shelley House, established some 15 years later.
Babingtons has survived two world wars, not to mention regular political and economic crises. Today it acts as a Roman institution and a tourist attraction, retaining its Victorian traditions of high tea, scones and light lunch in elegant surroundings. For full details see Babingtons website.