Italian Christmas Markets

A Quick Guide To The Italian Christmas Markets

Sara Provenzano

Sara Provenzano is the Contributing Editor at Global Storybook (Italy).
You can read more about Sara here.

It is nearly the time…  It is nearly the Christmas time…  But most importantly – it is nearly the time for visiting the Italian Christmas Markets!

During this special time – all cities are getting “dressed up” with a lot of colourful lights and decorations.  And all the shops are getting swamped with people trying to buy the best gifts ever.

The Italian Christmas Markets are very popular with the locals and the visitors alike, from Europe and beyond.

Known in Italian as Mercatino di Natale, they are not as numerous or on the same grand scale as the network of markets in Germany, for example.

But a visit to an Italian Christmas Market is one to remember!  Especially to one of the smaller Italian Christmas Markets in the Italian Alps, for example in the Trentino region, where you can be a part of a magical atmosphere.

Italians pride themselves on the elaborate crib displays at the numerous Italian Christmas Markets.

As with any Christmas Market the Italian stallholders will have mouth-watering displays of local food and drink plus, of course, the usual array of locally manufactured seasonal gift items.

Merano Christmas Market

The Merano Christmas Market and the Advent season is the perfect time to visit the beautiful Merano, due to its stunning backdrop of the snow-tipped mountains and the magical, festive and romantic atmosphere.

Merano is also renowned for being a city of relaxation and well-being.  A visit to the Christmas Markets in the Old Town can be a good opportunity to discover the town spas, and to end the day in complete relaxation.

The Christmas Market of Merano with its numerous exhibitors, offers many ideas for Christmas: fun decorations, wool slippers, the ceramics, the wooden statues, the toys and the typical pastry shops.

On the occasion of Christmas the whole town is embellished, and especially at night the streets are surrounded in a magical atmosphere.

It’s a great time of the year, where the scents of wine brulè and the Christmas pastry shops are intertwined with the sounds of music, and the traditions of the Advent.

  • Dates: November 25, 2016 – January 6, 2017

Venue: Passeggiata Lungo Pasiro, Merano

Trento Christmas Market

The Trento Christmas Market attracts more than 70 traditional wooden huts selling a variety of crafts in the splendid town of Trento and it is the most famous in the region.

The city of Trento is really fascinating in the Christmas time.  The mediaeval old centre, Buonconsiglio Castle, and the Dome situated on one of the most beautiful Piazzes of Italy, are really worth a visit.

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One of the main highlights is the Christmas Market venue which is located at the impressive Piazza Fiera.

The Trento Christmas Market is transforming the town of Trento into one of the top destinations for holidaymakers looking for a festive atmosphere.

The market is located at Plaza Cesare Battisti, very close to the Plazza Duomo.  You can buy traditional decorations and the recreated Biblical scenes.

A gourmet section is dedicated to local specialties such as treccia mochèna (plaited pastry cake), polenta brustolada (grilled polenta), and canederli (dumplings), as well as vin brulè (mulled wine) and parampampoli (hot toddies).

  • Dates: November 19, 2016 – January 6, 2017

Venue: Piazza Fiera

Trento Christmas Market

Trento Christmas Market

Christmas Market in Bolzano

The Christmas Market in Bolzano is one of the most famous in Italy and one of the most visited in the Alpine region.

On the occasion of the market there are numerous host stands with local craftsmanship and food products.

Set against the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites, the romantic arcaded streets and picturesque squares in the medieval town centre are festooned with brightly-lit garlands and pervaded by the aroma of roast chestnuts.

The Christmas market offers traditional handcrafted items made of wood, glass and clay, as well as Christmas decorations and seasonal sweetmeats.

The traditional market takes place in Piazza Walter, with numerous collateral initiatives.  In Piazza del Municipio, the Craftsmanship Market is enlivened with local craftsmen, offering products in ceramic or carved wood, all hand-made – from embroideries to jewels to wooden and glass items, the choice is really endless!

Also, there are three main squares that are involved in the joint local initiatives.  During the Christmas Market some of restaurants of Bolzano and San Genesio offer, for a fixed price, their characteristic menus.  The menus reveal an extraordinary combination between the typical European and the Mediterranean cuisines.

Venue: Piazza Walther

The Christmas Market in Vipiteno

The Christmas Market in Vipiteno takes place in the heart of Vipiteno and enchants everyone who visits the city.  It takes place in the centre of the city, in the shades of the famous Torre delle Dodici Tower, which seems to supervise the happenings in the lovely market.

The characteristic bays at the façades, provided with Christmas decoration, convey a very special flair and the cozy illumination at night-time makes this market even more romantic.  Another highlight of the Christmas Market of Vipiteno is of course the Christmas crib exhibition with the handmade products in the Torre delle Dodici.  The market booths spread all over the city, offering a wide variety of ideas for Christmas presents, sweet Christmas bakery and much more.

  • Dates:  November 25, 2016 – January 6, 2017
Italian Christmas Markets

Vipiteno Christmas Market

Florence Christmas Market

The Florence Christmas Market is inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg – with its wooden huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations, and handicrafts.  It is located in Piazza Santa Croce.  It consists of approximately 55 wooden huts, where European operators sell delicacies, decorations, handicrafts and typical Christmas items from their home countries.  For the first time, a monastery from Belarus will attend the event to sell its Christmas handicrafts.

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The many wooden stands are filled with both Florentine and German gifts and dishes, from panforte (a dense, spiced fruitcake) to bratwurst.

  • Dates: November 30, 2016 – December 18, 2016

Venue: Piazza Santa Croce

Rome, Lazio

Of the many Christmas markets in the Eternal City – the one at the Piazza Navona, in the historic centre, is the most famous.  During the Christmas period, the square transforms into a bustling multi-coloured Christmas market, selling the Biblical reconstruction scenes, decorations and sweets.  As a treat for young children – there are numerous street artists and acrobats.

Piazza Navona turns into a Winter wonderland every December with an expansive Christmas market.  These days, most of the goods on offer are mass-produced.  Even so, stalls with traditional Italian gifts, like miniature statues of la befana, with the marble fountains in the background, make for an unforgettable shopping experience.

Venue: Piazza Navona

Naples, Campania

The narrow street of Via San Gregorio Armeno is famous all over the World for its handcrafted Biblical figurines.  Its shops and stalls are a must-see at Christmas time when it is buzzing with Neapolitans and tourists alike, all out to purchase figures made of wax, bronze, cork and clay.

Figurines on sale encompass the traditional and the contemporary, and in recent years have included those of famous people such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Diana Princess of Wales, and even the fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Presepi, or the Biblical scenes, are one of Italy’s most popular Christmas decorations and can be found both in town piazzas and inside Italian homes.

Ranging from small and simple to enormous and ornate, presepi come in all kinds—and they can be all found in Naples, which is the place for finding handcrafted precepi. 

Each November, Naples hosts a market dedicated just to the famous Biblical scenes on Via San Gregorio Armeno.

Venue: Via San Gregorio Armeno

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