Let’s get into the Christmas spirit by visiting some fantastic Christmas markets in Italy! From north to south, here’s a list of some of the best places to enjoy an authentic Italian Christmas experience, from famous cities to little-known villages.
There are only a few weeks left before Christmas, so what better way to get into the festive spirit then attending a magical Christmas market? I’ve selected for you some of the coolest festive fairs scattered around Italy to fully embrace the yuletide season!
Naples is one of Italy’s top destinations for Christmas, with Via San Gregorio Armeno being synonymous with presepi (nativity scenes). This street is home to some incredibly talented craftspeople who create presepi of all shapes and sizes. This street is often referred to as the Christmas alley and figurines and decorations are on display all year around, but in the run up to Christmas it truly comes to life.
You’ll also find Christmas stalls and little markets around every corner, displaying festive gifts and offering warming drinks and local delicacies – try struffoli, a classic Christmas sweet of Naples.
- Shops and stalls in San Gregorio Armeno are usually open from about 9:30 am to about 8:00 pm
- Via San Gregorio Armeno is in the heart of Naples historic center, just a short walk from Duomo
If Naples is the capital of nativity scenes, then Salerno could easily win the title of queen of lights! One of the biggest local events here is Luci d’Artista (literally, Artistic Lights), a Christmas festival that lights up every corner of the city with stunning light installations based on an annual theme (this year it’s marine life).
Lights are turned on every evening at sunset until late at night and are accompanied by a traditional Christmas market sneaking through Lungomare Trieste waterfront and a panoramic ferris wheel in Piazza della Concordia.
- Luci d’Artista will take place from 9 November to 20 January
- Further details are available on the event website
Italy’s fashion and business capital is home to an ancient Christmas fair that dates back to 1510, Oh Bej, Oh Bej (which literally means ‘how nice, how nice’). Against the backdrop of the majestic Castello Sforzesco, tens of stalls sell everything from Christmas decorations to toys, sweets and much more.
Don’t forget to stock up on panettone, the local traditional Christmas cake, and take a detour to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to admire the beautiful Christmas tree!
- Oh Bej Oh Bej takes place on 6-9 December, from 10:00 am to 10:30 pm.
- The nearest metro stop is “Cairoli” on the red line
Candelara is a delightful medieval village located in the central region of Le Marche. During the festive season it hosts Candles in Candelara, an incredible event where electricity is switched off twice a day (at 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm) and the village remains completely illuminated by the flames of thousands of candles of any shape and size for 15 minutes… such an enchanting atmosphere!
During the festival, you can take part in candle-making laboratories, browse through the stalls selling local handcrafted products and enjoy the sounds of bagpipes filling the air. There are also a street exclusively dedicated to Nativity scenes and a big heated tent where volunteers cook traditional local dishes, including polenta, grilled meat and apple pancakes.
- Candles in Candelara takes place every weekend from 24th November until 16th December. There’s an entrance fee of 2 euros (free for children under 12).
- From the train station of Pesaro you can easily reach the location using the free bus service that departs every 30 minutes.
- Further details are available on the Candelara website.
Classy Merano is home to one of the most popular Christmas markets of Trentino Alto Adige, in northern Italy. Here we are in a region that totally embodies the festive season with a fairytale atmosphere that makes tis time of the year truly unforgettable.
Hundreds of people flock to Piazza della Rena to browse the colorful wooden huts selling beautiful Christmas decorations and traditional local delicacies. There is also a fantastic ice skating ring in Piazza Terme. And after a day out exploring, you can pamper yourself from head to toe in one of Merano’s fantastic spas.
- The Christmas market is open from 23 November to 6 January, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm Sunday-Thursday and 10:00 am – 8:00 pm Friday-Saturday.
- Further details are available on the Merano Christmas market website.
With only about 900 inhabitants, Glorenza is the smallest village in the Alps, as well as a great alpine jewel with perfectly preserved medieval walls and towers.
Every December the village hosts an intimate Advent Market that makes you feel a world away from the crowds of the larger and most famous markets of Bolzano and Merano. Arcades and the central piazza. Think Christmas carols, hand-made products, and sweet scents of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine!
- Glorenza Advent Market takes place over the long weekend of 7-9 December, from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.
- Further details are available on the Venosta Valley website.
Campo di Giove and Roccaraso
The villages of Abruzzo host some truly charming Christmas markets where you can immerse yourself in an authentic southern Italian experience. The cool thing about these Christmas markets is that it is possible to visit them aboard a vintage train that has been dubbed the Italian Transiberian, because it passes through a suggestive landscape resembling that of Siberia.
The train departs from Sulmona and follows the scenic route through the Majella National Park before reaching Campo di Giove and Roccaraso.
- The Christmas markets run from 30th November to 23rd December.
- Train tickets are €40 for adults and €25 for children between 4-12 years old
- You can easily reach Sulmona by train from Rome in 2.5 hours, alternatively you can fly into Pescara and then catch a train (1 hour)
- Further details ara available on the Railbook website
Como is an elegant lakeside town with lots of things to see and do all year-around, but looks its best during the festive season, when it becomes the City of Toys. Yes, at Christmas Como turns a truly magical location surrounded by a suggestive atmosphere. The facades of the cathedral and the buildings around the central square are illuminated with amazing light displays and you’ll feel like an excited kid again!
There’s a colorful market selling local products, a magic castle with theatrical performances and workshops for children, and Nativity scenes set up throughout the town. there are also Christmas concerts, exhibitions of Nativity scenes and an ice rink.
- City of Toys runs from 24th November until 6th January
- Como makes for a great day trip from Milan, it takes about an hour
- Further details are available on Visit Como website.
Every year since 1981 the slopes of Mount Ingino overlooking the pretty medieval town of Gubbio, in Umbria, are home to the biggest Christmas tree in the world. 250 green lights outline the shape of the tree while over 400 multicolored lights decorate it. We are talking about an area of about 1,000 square meters! m2. This stunning installation was included in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991.
There are also a delightful Christmas market in Piazza Grande and a life-size nativity scene through the streets of San Martino district.
- The Christmas markets are on from 7 December until 7 January
- Further details are available on this website
Polignano a Mare
The charming village of Polignano a Mare in Puglia is usually associated with sun and sea, but this year it has put on some amazing festive clothes! The pretty historic centre is home to the first edition of Meraviglioso Natale (literally, Amazing Christmas), a fantastic Christmas festival with shimmering lights, carols and the highest Christmas tree in the region (18 metres).
There are stalls selling excellent local goods and gastronomic delights and an ice skating ring called Magic Ice in the central piazza Aldo Moro. The program includes also an exhibition of nativity scenes and a series of concerts.
- The festival will run from 16 November until 6 January, starting every day at sunset
- Polignano can be reached by train from Bari central station in about 30 minutes
- To access the village you need a GCard that can be purchased from one of the Info Points at the cost of 5 euros and entitles you to a series of free gifts
Until next time,