As the temperatures drop, the fairy lights come out and the smell of warm spice fills the air, you know it’s Christmas time in Italy. Intimate and traditional, the Italian Christmas markets are always filled with the best local handicrafts, delicious treats and festive music. From the Alpine traditions of Trento to the Mediterranean festivities of Naples, and the iconic events in Rome, Florence and Milan, here are all the best places to find the most magical Christmas markets in Italy. Buon Natale!
Christmas markets in Trento
Famed as “The Christmas Town”, Trento pulls out all the stops for December, putting on one of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets. The festivities spread from Piazza Fiera to Piazza Cesare Battisti, with dozens of chalets selling traditional gifts and decorations in the stunning alpine setting.
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There’s also incredible nativity scenes and lots of mouthwatering local treats like polenta brustolada (grilled polenta) and German-inspired strudel. We suggest starting with some canederli (bread dumplings), followed by treccia mochèna (plaited pastry cake). Then wash it all down with some Trentino wine or vin brulè (mulled wine)!
Best of all, the market is one of the greenest Christmas markets in Italy, and you won’t find any single-use plastics here. The sustainable market also takes care to ensure everything is locally-made, so you can feel good knowing you’re supporting the local community.
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Christmas markets in Bolzano
With the Dolomites rising in the background, Christmas markets don’t get much more breathtaking than in Bolzano. The city puts on an extravagant show, hosting one of Italy’s biggest and oldest Christmas markets, and you’ll quickly fall in love with this stunning medieval centre.
Located on the border of Austria and Switzerland, the Christmas market is very German-inspired. You can expect to find just as many German-speaking and Italian-speaking locals!
The streets are beautifully decorated with glowing candles, lamps and garlands, while the wooden stalls are packed with traditional gifts and toys. Be sure to keep an eye out for regional delicacies like vin brulé and apple strudel.
It’s all very romantic, but there’s also plenty of fun for kids. Families should make a beeline for the Children’s Market, with a puppet theatre, miniature train and a merry-go-round. The heart of the market is Piazza Walther and it winds its way through town, so there’s plenty of chances to get lost in the pretty laneways.
Christmas markets in Rome
All festive roads lead to Rome – the Piazza Navona to be exact. While Rome has dozens of wonderful Christmas markets throughout the city, the Christmas Market of the Piazza Navona is one of the very best.
Every winter the famous square transforms into a winter wonderland, with stalls selling traditional gifts and handicrafts. You’ll also find street artists and acrobats performing in the market, Italian chocolate and festive sweets up for grabs, and merry Christmas songs in the air.
Even Santa Claus himself makes an appearance at this dazzling square in Rome every December!
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Christmas markets in Florence
Beautiful Florence comes alive in the holiday season, with plenty of merry Christmas markets. Our favourite is Christmas Market at the Piazza Santa Croce, inspired by the German traditions of Heidelberg.
You’ll find over 60 wooden chalets selling all kinds of Italian and German specialities and handicrafts, and it’s all surrounded by the stunning square, Santa Croce.
Take a ride on the traditional carousel and munch on bratwurst or Florentine panforte (spiced fruitcake). Don’t forget to check out the incredible nativity scene at Piazza del Duomo, with life-sized terracotta statues made by a local artist.
Christmas markets in Milan
While Milan is home to a few Christmas markets, you can’t miss out on the Christmas Market in Piazza Castello. It’s one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, dating back to 1510, when the locals paid tribute to the city’s patron saint Sant’Ambrogio.
Today, the stunning festival still celebrates the patron saint and it’s also a Yuletide wonderland with over 350 stalls. You’ll find everything from toys, books and clothing, to antiques and handicrafts.
Known locally as Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (meaning “How lovely!”), legend says that when a papal envoy came to Milan in the 1500s, bearing gifts for the children, they couldn’t help but cry “Oh Bej!” at the sight of it all. If you’re looking for an authentic Italian Christmas market, this is it.
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Christmas markets in Naples
If you think Christmas never lasts long enough, you’ve got to head to Naples. This Mediterranean city holds a year-round Christmas market, with the entire San Gregorio Armeno street selling local treats and their famous traditional figurines throughout the year.
The figurines get more intricate every year, and you’ll find pizza makers, fishmongers and butchers, along with funny characters like pop stars and politicians.
As winter falls, Naples ramps up the Christmas cheer, putting together a spectacular nativity scene in Piazza San Gaetano. The amazing handcrafted figurines here range from traditional religious figures to historic people. The master craftsmanship is something you really have to see for yourself.
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Christmas markets in Verona
This romantic city was the setting for Shakespeare’s tragic story of Romeo and Juliet. But it’s also famed for its amazing Christmas market held in the central Piazza dei Signori.
Every winter, Verona hosts a German-style Christmas market inspired by the festivities of Nuremberg. You’ll find all kinds of traditional German foods, decorations and handicrafts in over 80 wooden stalls.
Get your fill of bratwurst sausage, stollen (fruitcake) and lebkuchen (gingerbread), then wander among the dreamy display of thousands of twinkling lights and a giant Christmas star.
Christmas markets in Bologna
The Bologna Christmas Markets are something of a hidden gem in Italy. While the market is less crowded than other more popular festivals, it still serves up a gorgeous winter fairytale across two markets – the Fiera di Santa Lucia and the Fiera di Natale.
These are two of the oldest Christmas markets in Italy, dating back to 1796, and you’ll love all the local handicrafts and treats like marzipan and torrone (nougat).
Be sure to check out Bologna’s unique nativity scene, with two characters found nowhere else. See if you can spot ‘The Wonder’, a woman gazing in awe at the baby Christ, and the ‘Sleeper’, a man snoozing in the background.
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Christmas markets in Venice
Dreaming of a snow-covered Venice? Head to the Floating City in winter for a wonderland complete with an ice skating rink and market stalls with locally-made treasures.
You’ll be able to surprise the special people in your life with intricate handmade Venetian crafts, all while indulging in plenty of frittelle, the famous huge pastries filled with chocolate!
Have you been to any Christmas markets in Italy? Are you dreaming of a winter holiday to Italy? Let us know in the comments below!