All you need to know about the best Christmas Markets in Italy.The tradition of Christmas markets is centuries- old, dating back to the Middle Ages. A document written in Dresden, Germany in 1434 speaks of the first winter fairs for small artisans. Since then, the markets spread throughout Northern Europe and can be found in every corner of the world, including Italy.
Italian Christmas markets are worth the trip. Those in the big cities are particularly famous, but there are equally spectacular ones in small villages. While last year they were put on hold due to the pandemic, this year markets have restarted in full safety (some even with a Green Pass requirement, for example in South Tyrol) and with new inviting features.
1. Candelara (Pesaro, Italy)Candelara is one of the quaint villages in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, with a very characteristic historical center surrounded by a 15th century city wall that has withstood the test of time.
For Christmas it hosts one of the most nostalgic markets: the festival is called "Candles to Candelara" because candles are the main attraction here. Their light will illuminate the entire village decorated with Christmas cribs and iron sculptures, and the elves’ workshop.
Every day of the event ( December 4 - 5 - 8 - 11 - 12) for 15 minutes, electric lights will be turned off and the warm light of the candles will be left shining. Candelara is an excellent starting point for a nice Christmas journey in the Marche: its market is one of the many stops of "Il Natale che non ti aspetti" (Christmas you don't expect) that goes from November 27th to January 6th with events for adults and children in the whole province of Pesaro and Urbino.
2. Santa Maria Maggiore (Piedmont, Italy)One of the most beautiful villages in Piedmont, Santa Maria Maggiore, in the heart of the Ossola Valley, is also home to one of the most beautiful and authentic Christmas markets. The excellent craftsmanship of the village is on full display from December 6 to 8.
Throughout the village there are warm fires made from the trunks of fir trees, refreshment stands for sipping mulled wine, stinchéet (similar to piadine, eaten hot with butter and salt) and roasted chestnuts, with holiday music playing in the backround.
Don't miss the extra market, the Chimney Sweep Museum (the only one in Italy), and the Feminis-Farina Perfume House, which tells the story of Eau de Cologne, which has origins in Santa Maria Maggiore.
3. Castle of Limatola (Campania, Italy)Half an hour from the Royal Palace of Caserta, in Limatola there is one of the most beautiful surprises of Christmas in the Campania region of Italy: The “Cadeau al Castello” is brought back to life by the Sgueglia family, from November 12 to December 12.
Wander around the markets of handmade products, have fun with elves among the music boxes, swings, giant Advent calendars and talking trees, and visit Santa Claus as he prepares for his Christmas rounds.
Among these spectacular sets there are shows with magicians, jesters and fantastical characters, as well as an exhibition of Christmas cribs with ancient pieces. You can also sleep in the castle: there are magnificent historical rooms, and a restaurant.
4. South Tyrol's Original Christmas MarketsBolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Vipiteno, and Brunico: these are the five "original" South Tyrolean markets, five not-to-be-missed events that make Christmas in the region one of the most romantic. What they all have in common is the authentic festive atmosphere, the focus on sustainability, and also on safety, since the markets can only be accessed with a Green Pass.
A new surprise awaits you each time. In Bressanone, for example, the handcrafted cribs are a must, starting with those kept in the Hofburg (the Bishop's Palace), which also hosts the musical "Liora.
The value of time" this year. In Merano, on the other hand, the thing to see are the small wooden houses along the Passirio river full of South Tyrolean products, with a decidedly scenic lighting display, including the Advent calendar from the windows of the Palais Mamming Museum.
The theme this year in Vipiteno is the Christmas Bells! This year, the South Tyrolean Christmas markets also featured a special agreement with Trenitalia, which offered a 50% discount on outbound tickets.
5. Aosta (Val d’Aosta, Italy)Put it in your diary: from November 20 until January 6 The Marché Vert Noël of Aosta needs to become a regular appointment. The archaeological site of an ancient Roman Theatre and, for the first time, the Arch of Augustus, will be covered in lights and sculptures.
The wooden chalets of the town create a setting for holiday magic where you can browse traditional products, such as cheeses (starting with Fontina), cold cuts, wines, but also magnificent creations in wood and felt by local artisans. Ph: MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com
6. Aprica (Lombardy, Italy)Aprica, the beautiful mountain a stone’s throw from Milan, celebrates Christmas by hosting a winter market. They start from December 4 to 8 and then go on the weekends of 11-12 and 18-19 December and from December 24 to January 6.
Shopping, music, and fun for children, this market is a perfect après ski opportunity, considering the 50 kilometers of trails in Aprica, plus another seven for cross country skiing, and many other activities made for enjoying snow and nature.
7. Trento and surrounding areas (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)Trentino is an unmissable destination for those who love Christmas markets. The largest in Trento, with nearly 100 wooden Christmas cribs, animates the heart of the city from November 20 to January 6.
The market of Trento is also an excellent starting point to visit many others that light up one of the most beautiful alpine regions of Italy at Christmas time: there are seventeen markets in as many small wonderful towns and villages of Trentino, from Rovereto where the festivities are dedicated to the theme of light, to Ala that characteristically decorates the halls of the baroque palaces in its historic center, up to Avio that welcomes visitors in a castle decorated for holiday festivities.
8. Cison di Valmarino (Veneto, Italy)If you have a passion for small towns in Italy, Cison di Valmarino is not to be missed at Christmas. Having earned the Touring Club's Orange Flag for its beauty and ability to protect it, Cison is known as one of the best starting points for excursions in nature.
The hamlet within the village, Rolle, is surrounded by the vineyards of Valdobbiadene and was the first to be protected by the Italian Environmental Fund, but it also has one of the most characteristic Christmas markets.
Called Stelle a Natale (Stars at Christmas), it is held on weekends December 4-5, 11-12 and December 8. Along the streets there are little houses that display local handicrafts, which are real works of art. In addition, each craftsman sets up an original representation of the Nativity Scene in their store. Meanwhile, the square is decorated with spectacular ornaments from the surrounding forest.
9. Arezzo (Tuscany, Italy)Arezzo is one of the most beautiful cities to visit at Christmas: from November 20 to January 9, Arezzo dresses up for the holidays with light installations, Christmas cribs (such as the moving mechanical one in the church in Piazza della Badia), shows and special events dedicated to the theme of wonder.
There are a variety of markets on offer: the "Prato", the large green area that dominates the city has the "Market of Wonders" with edible delicacies, the Piazza Grande has "the Tyrolean Village", while Piazza San Jacopo and Risorgimento have a traditional market. There will also be Santa Claus, who will welcome children to "his home".
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