Cold weather and vin brulè, cinnamon and orange notes in the air, gingerbread and hot chocolate, wooden huts and sparkling lights, beautiful handicraft decorations and nativity scenes, Christmas spirit and fairy tale atmosphere, there is no doubt this article is about the magic of the Christmas markets in Italy that will make you want to organize your winter trip to Italy right away and don’t forget to put these Christmas Markets, Mercatini di Natale, as locals call them, in your holiday itinerary.
1. For a perfect Alpine Christmas holiday
If you want to breathe some Alpine air, head to the mercantile town of Bolzano in Northern Italy. Situated close to the Austrian border in Trentino- Alto Adige region, Bolzano, is a winning mix of local craftsmanship, oenology, and gastronomy in the best alpine tradition. As every year, the Christmas market takes part from the end of November until January 6th, Epiphany, in the city center, at Piazza Walther, and has countless decorated stalls as well as a rich program that involves and entertain all family members. Of course, if you are a gastronomic lover you can delight yourself with the typical delicious apple fritters, Strudel and apple juice.
2. For a perfect Romantic holiday
To enjoy a magical and romantic Christmas experience, head to the hometown of Romeo and Juliet Verona. It has a tradition of romance, and you’re sure to fall in love with this dreamy market, which takes its influence from Nuremberg, Germany. From mid-November to Christmas, the shimmering historical center of Verona houses the Christmas Market offering its visitors an unforgettable experience. From the White Comet star rising from Arena di Verona, the third biggest amphitheater in Italy, to the cozy decorated wooden houses that offer hand-made decorations and heart-shaped chocolates, Verona is a great destination to mark for the Christmas period.
3. To follow an ancient Italian tradition
Perhaps you’ll be surprised, but Milan is a city where the Christmas Market has a very ancient tradition. Head to the Lombard capital if you want to visit one of the oldest markets “Oh, Bej! Oh, Bej!” meaning “How beautiful! How beautiful” in the local dialect. Legend has it that it dates back to the 1500s when a papal envoy came to Milan bearing gifts for all the city’s children. As per tradition, it is held at the beginning of December, in honor of St. Ambrose, patron of the city. Thousands of visitors come to Milan and stroll around the stalls of the market situated around one of the cities’ landmarks Sforza Castle enjoying the magic of the Christmas atmosphere. Oh, Bej! Oh, Bej! lasts 3 or 4 days but you don’t have to worry if you miss it, you can still visit the one at Piazza del Duomo open until January.
Christmas lights, decorations, festive cheer, and long traditions, visiting Italy in December, is a great way to experience the magic. One of the most beautiful holidays.
4. For a magic Christmas location
It is not one of the biggest Christmas markets in Italy, but its location is second to none. The Christmas market in Florence fills one of the most fabulous squares of the city, Piazza Santa Croce that puts an additional sparkle on the festive mood. It generally runs from the end of November to the last days before Christmas and is inspired by the winter market held in Heidelberg, Germany. With around 60 wooden stalls and vendors from all over Europe, you can find great gift ideas such as candles, wooden toys, and hand-crafted Christmas decorations as well as delicious gastronomic products. Walking in Florence is always a unique experience, but during the festive season, the city, with its illuminated cobblestone streets, make the atmosphere more magic.
5. For a perfect Gastronomy Christmas
Do you know which city is called the gastronomy capital of Italy? I’ll help you. It is Bologna. If you are a gastronomy lover, the Christmas markets of the Emilia- Romagna capital are perfect for you. Fiera di Santa Lucia, one of the most ancient and traditional Christmas markets in Bologna takes place each year along the elegant walkway of the church of Santa Maria dei Servi on Strada Maggiore from mid-November to Christmas. On the stalls of the historical market, you can find Christmas decorations, gifts, sweets and statues from the Nativity Scene. A key part of the market is, of course, torrone (festive nougat) and marzipan fruit creations so don’t miss to try it.
6. For a perfect Eternal city winter experience
The holiday season is another perfect occasion to visit the Italian capital. Rome, with its beautifully decorated Christmas markets in the historical center, will make your winter trip more enjoyable. Known as one of the biggest Christmas markets in Italy, Mercato della Befana, situated at Piazza Navona is the most famous in the Eternal city. Each year from the beginning of December to January 6th, tourists and locals gather at the famous square with Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers and the church Saint Agnes in Agoneand and stroll around the stalls hunting for perfect Christmas gifts and decorations. Not to mention you’ll find delicious gastronomic treats, live music and lots of entertainment for the whole family.
TIP: If you are in Rome for Christmas, don’t miss to visit the nativity scene at St. Peter’s Square. With life-size figures, it is the most famous crib in Rome.
7. For a unique Nativity Scene experience
Head to south Italy, to Naples and take a stroll through its world-famous Christmas market along Via San Gregorio Armeno situated in the historical center of the city. Colorful and sparkling lights, typical decorations, music and very talented craftsmen who exhibit their unique nativity scene statuettes offer an unforgettable experience to the visitors. From the most classic figures of the Holy Family to the representation of famous people from the past and present, Naples is perhaps the Italian city where the Nativity tradition feels strongest. The Christmas market is great for those who want to experience the traditional Italian festive cheer. Don’t miss to visit San Lorenzo Maggiore church, where is possible to admire a nativity scene that fits into a nutshell.