Christmas markets in Italy: an ancient and fascinating tradition

Christmas markets in Italy: an ancient and fascinating tradition

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If you are thinking of visiting Italy during the Christmas period, you cannot miss the Christmas markets, one of the oldest and most fascinating traditions of our country. The Christmas markets are outdoor fairs, where you can buy artisanal, gastronomic, decorative and gift products typical of the local culture. They are also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, among lights, colors, scents, music and entertainment.

The origins of the Christmas markets in Italy

The Christmas markets in Italy have very ancient origins, dating back to the Middle Ages, when fairs were held to celebrate the winter solstice and Christmas. In particular, the Christmas markets developed in northern Italy, where the influence of the Germanic and Austrian countries, which have a long tradition of Christmas markets, spread.

Among the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Italy, there are those of Bolzano, Trento, Merano, Bressanone and Levico Terme, which take place in the suggestive squares and streets of the cities, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Here you can find the typical wooden houses, which display products such as the nativity scene, candles, Christmas decorations, wooden toys, wool sweaters, sweets and hot drinks, such as mulled wine and chocolate.

The Christmas markets in northern Italy are also famous for their collateral events, such as concerts, exhibitions, workshops, ice skating rinks and carriage rides.

The variety of the Christmas markets in Italy

The Christmas markets in Italy are not limited to the north: even in central and southern Italy you can find very beautiful and characteristic Christmas markets, which reflect the traditions and peculiarities of the different regions. For example, in Tuscany you can visit the Christmas markets of Florence, Arezzo, Siena and Lucca, where you can admire the artistic and architectural beauties of the cities, and buy products such as panforte, cheese, oil, wine and handicrafts in ceramics, leather and wrought iron. In Florence, you can also visit the Weihnachtsmarkt, the Christmas market in German style, which takes place in Piazza Santa Croce.

In Umbria, instead, you can discover the Christmas markets of Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio and Spoleto, where you can find products such as truffles, chocolate, honey, cheese and salami, and attend shows of theater, music and dance. In Gubbio, in particular, you can admire the famous largest Christmas tree in the world, formed by thousands of lights that light up on the slopes of Mount Ingino.

In southern Italy, the Christmas markets are less widespread, but no less interesting. In Campania, for example, you can visit the most famous and long-lived Christmas market in Italy, that of Spaccanapoli, in Naples, which lasts all year round. Here you can buy the famous shepherds and figurines of the Neapolitan nativity scene, which represent historical, religious, popular and even contemporary characters, such as politicians, sportsmen and celebrities. In Sicily, instead, you can visit the Christmas market of Catania, which inaugurates this year a real “city within the city” all themed on Christmas, with over 200 stands, an ice rink, a Ferris wheel, a Santa Claus village and many attractions for young and old.

The best tips to enjoy the Christmas markets in Italy

If you are planning to visit the Christmas markets in Italy, here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Plan your trip in advance: the Christmas markets in Italy usually start from the end of November and last until the beginning of January, but the dates and opening hours may vary depending on the location. Check the official websites of the Christmas markets you want to visit, and book your accommodation and transportation in advance, as they may be in high demand during the festive season.
  • Dress warmly and comfortably: the Christmas markets in Italy are mostly outdoors, and the weather can be cold and rainy, especially in the north. Wear warm clothes, layers, gloves, hats and scarves, and comfortable shoes, as you will walk a lot and stand in queues. You can also bring an umbrella or a raincoat, just in case.
  • Bring cash and a reusable bag: the Christmas markets in Italy are a paradise for shoppers, but not all the stalls may accept credit cards or electronic payments. Bring enough cash with you, and change it into euros if you come from a different currency area. You can also bring a reusable bag with you, to carry your purchases and avoid using plastic bags.
  • Taste the local specialties: the Christmas markets in Italy are not only about shopping, but also about tasting the delicious local food and drinks. You can find a variety of products, such as cheese, salami, bread, pastries, chocolate, honey, wine, beer, and more. Don’t miss the chance to try the typical dishes and drinks of each region, such as polenta, canederli, strudel, panettone, pandoro, vin brulé, bomboloni, and more. You can also buy some food and drinks as souvenirs or gifts for your friends and family.
  • Enjoy the atmosphere and the entertainment: the Christmas markets in Italy are not only about food and shopping, but also about enjoying the festive atmosphere and the entertainment. You can admire the beautiful decorations, the lights, the nativity scenes, the Christmas trees, and the snow. You can also listen to the music, watch the shows, join the workshops, skate on the ice, ride the carousel, and meet Santa Claus. You can also take pictures and selfies, and share them on social media with your friends and followers.

The Christmas markets in Italy are, therefore, a rich and varied tradition, which offers the possibility to know and appreciate the different cultures and the different beauties of our country. Visiting the Christmas markets in Italy is a unique and unforgettable experience, that will make you live the true spirit of the Italian Christmas.

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