Christmas Markets In Italy
If you are heading to Europe and in particular to Italy over the Christmas holiday you should not miss the Christmas Markets scene. They add charm to cities and towns all over Europe and they are a perfect social gathering place for family, friends, and tourists looking for holiday presents.
I am happy to share my favorite markets with you in a few regions of Italy:
Tuscany – Florence
I used to live in Florence before moving to the USA and part of my family still lives there today. Santa Croce has one of the biggest markets in Tuscany and it is open every day from 10 am to about 9pm from Dec.1st to Dec. 20th.
Tuscany – Montepulciano
Assuming you are headed to the wine country then you must check the town of Montepulciano (Dec. 8thto Dec. 21st). It is particularly charming exhibiting 40-60 wooden sheds packed with delicatessen, crafts, decorations, and more. If you are traveling with your family and have kids, make sure you bring them to Castello di Montepulciano to see the lights and decorations; they will love it! The Christmas lights at the castle are up till January 6th.
Tuscany – Arezzo
Arezzo is a wonderful Christmas destination. The entire town from Dec.1st to Dec. 26th becomes a village of festivities, with a beautiful authentic German market, Santa Claus, and more. Make sure you stop in Piazza Grande for live Christmas music, candle lighting, and local delicacies.
Bologna is only 50 minutes ride on a speed train from Florence. This is where you want to do your shopping, trust me! The city is most famous for being the food fulcrum of Italy and very fascionable. Even on a rainy, snowy or otherwise cold day, Bologna is perfect because the city has hundreds of porticos so you will never walk under the rain. There are two places to check the Christmas festivities at: Piazza Maggiore where the Christmas Tree will be and the Cathedral of San Pietro (Via Altabella) where you will find the markets until January 6th10 am to 8pm.
Who can resist the charm of Venice? Well in December in particular the city is truly magic. There are hundreds of piazzas in Venice (the Venetians call it Campo) many of which will have mini Christmas markets worth checking out and strolling through. The main market can be found in Campo Santo Stefano near Palazzo Grassi. Check out Campo S. Bartolomeo and Campo San Luca as well. For those who love Venetian glass a trip to Murano is a must. The Markets in Venice are open till January 6th.
Only as short train ride from Venice, Verona too is truly beautiful. I lived and worked in Verona for 3 years so this city is very dear to my heart. In the middle of the city center the majestic Arena di Verona and Piazza Bra (A smaller version of the colosseum in Rome) are beautifully decorated with lights, walking around feels like a fairytale. The markets can be found in Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori until Dec. 26th.
Prepared to be blown away. The Christmas markets in the south of Italy are completely different, not so much of a German influence anymore but a very rich Mediterranean tradition. I am from the South myself (Puglia) and our biggest celebration is around the handmade presepe (the nativity scene) that can be very artistic, elaborate and animated. Napoli of course does it its way all over Via San Gregorio and in Piazza S. Gaetano.
I hope these tips fill you with joy and anticipation for a magic trip to Italy.
If you are headed to Italy in the near future, I hope you decide to join some of my off-the-beaten-path experiential journeys. Click here to learn more!