8 mins

5 stunning Italian Christmas markets

Smaller and more intimate than the famous German markets, Italy’s Mercatino di Natale offer a more intimate and traditional Christmas experience. Here are five of the best...

Christmas in Bolzano (Shutterstock)

1. River Passirio, Merano

Christmas in Merano, Italy (Shutterstock)

Christmas in Merano, Italy (Shutterstock)

Set on the banks of the River Passirio, the Christmas market in Merano, South Tyrol is one of the most atmospheric in Italy. Wooden advent cottages, decorated Christmas trees and nativity scenes with life-size figures all add to the charm. Wrap up and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage and a visit from Father Christmas.

Opening dates: 29 November 2019 to 6 January 2020

2. Piazza Navona, Rome

Piazza Navona Christmas market (Dreamstime)

Piazza Navona Christmas market (Dreamstime)

Situated among the stunning fountains in the Piazza Navona, the famous square turns into a beautiful multicoloured Christmas market, with stalls and booths filled with sweets, chocolates and traditional Christmas gifts. Between November and January, street artists and acrobats play throughout the market to the soundtrack of Christmas songs, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Opening dates: December to 6 January

3. Piazza Castello, Milan

Piazza Castello, Milan (Shutterstock)

Piazza Castello, Milan (Shutterstock)

Milan is home to several Christmas markets through the festive season, but Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (How Beautiful! How Beautiful!) is one of the longest-running, dating back to at least 1510.

Originally a time when the locals paid homage to the city’s patron saint, nowadays the beautiful market bustles with activity, as locals and tourists meander around the 350+ stalls selling handicrafts, antiques, clothing, toys, Christmas gifts and plenty of sweet treats and festive foods.

Opening dates: 5-8 December 2019.

4. Piazza Walther, Bolzano

Christmas in Bolzano (Shutterstock)

Christmas in Bolzano (Shutterstock)

Set against the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites, Bolzano hosts Italy’s biggest Christmas market. Little wooden huts filled with traditional gifts are beautifully decorated with brightly-lit garlands, lamps and candles that line the streets in the medieval town.

As well as perusing the gifts, travellers can try some of the regional culinary specialties like vin brule (hot mulled wine).

Opening dates: end of November 2019 to 6 January 2020

5. Piazza Santa Croce, Florence

Piazza Santa Croce, Florence (Shutterstock)

Piazza Santa Croce, Florence (Shutterstock)

Through December, Florence flourishes with Christmas cheer and a huge market inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg. Over 50 wooden huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations and handicrafts fill one of the most beautiful squares of the city, Santa Croce. Children can also enjoy a ride on a traditional carousel.

Opening dates: end of November to end of December 2019 

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