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Expat Exchange - Best Places to Visit in Italy for Christmas Cheer
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Bari, Italy

Best Places to Visit in Italy for Christmas Cheer

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Italian For A While
Italian For A While

Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Italy for Christmas cheer.

Italy, with its rich history and vibrant culture, becomes even more enchanting during the holiday season. Expats and digital nomads living in Italy have the unique opportunity to experience the country's festive spirit in a variety of places that come alive in December. From the snow-capped Alps to the historic streets of Rome, Italy offers a plethora of destinations where one can enjoy traditional Christmas markets, stunning light displays, and heartwarming events. Here are some of the best places to visit in Italy to get into the holiday spirit.

Rome's Piazza Navona

The Eternal City of Rome is a magical place year-round, but Piazza Navona during the holiday season is truly a sight to behold. The Christmas Market in Piazza Navona is one of the most famous in Italy, with its beautiful Baroque fountains providing a stunning backdrop. Stalls are filled with handmade crafts, festive decorations, and traditional sweets like torrone and panettone. The market usually runs throughout December, offering a perfect blend of holiday cheer and historical ambiance.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to try a slice of panettone, a classic Italian Christmas cake, while wandering through the market. The combination of candied fruits and sweet bread is a holiday favorite.

Venice's Campo Santo Stefano

Venice, with its picturesque canals and bridges, becomes even more romantic during the holidays. Campo Santo Stefano transforms into a Christmas village with its market known as Natale in Laguna. Artisans from all over Italy come to sell their unique creations, from glass ornaments to intricate lacework. The market typically starts in early December and is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts while enjoying the serene Venetian atmosphere.

We Recommend: Be sure to taste the cioccolata calda, Italian hot chocolate, which is famously thick and rich – a perfect treat to keep you warm while exploring the market.

Florence's Piazza Santa Croce

Florence is a haven for art lovers and the holiday season adds an extra layer of charm to this Renaissance city. The Weihnachtsmarkt, a German-style Christmas market, takes over Piazza Santa Croce with its wooden huts and twinkling lights. Here, you can find everything from German beer and sausages to Italian crafts and leather goods. The market usually runs from late November to the week before Christmas, offering a festive mix of cultures.

We Recommend: Try the strudel or a bratwurst sandwich as you take in the sights and sounds of this international market.

Naples' Via San Gregorio Armeno

Naples is renowned for its presepi, or nativity scenes, and no place is more famous for them than Via San Gregorio Armeno. This narrow street in the historic center is lined with artisan workshops and stores selling handcrafted nativity figures all year round, but it's during the Christmas season that it truly comes to life. The entire street becomes a festive spectacle, with intricate displays and a vibrant atmosphere that captures the essence of Neapolitan Christmas traditions.

We Recommend: Take home a piece of Neapolitan Christmas by purchasing a handcrafted figurine for your own nativity scene.

Turin's Piazza Castello

Turin, known for its elegant squares and arcades, hosts a magical Christmas market in Piazza Castello. The Luci d'Artista, an annual light art festival, illuminates the city with stunning installations, making the market experience even more enchanting. The market offers a wide array of local products, from chocolates and wines to textiles and ceramics. It typically starts in late November and continues until early January, making it a perfect spot for holiday shopping and festivities.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to sample some of Turin's famous chocolates, especially the gianduiotti, a delicious hazelnut treat.

Bolzano's Piazza Walther

Bolzano, nestled in the Dolomites, is home to Italy's most famous Christmas market. The Christkindlmarkt in Piazza Walther is a traditional South Tyrolean market that offers a fairy-tale-like atmosphere with its wooden chalets and mountain setting. Visitors can find hand-carved wooden toys, festive decorations, and local specialties like speck and strudel. The market usually opens in late November and lasts until early January, providing a long season of holiday cheer.

We Recommend: Warm up with a cup of vin brulé, the Italian version of mulled wine, as you stroll through the market.

Verona's Piazza dei Signori

Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, hosts the Natale in Piazza (Christmas in the Square) market in the picturesque Piazza dei Signori. Surrounded by historic buildings, the market is filled with lights, colors, and the scents of Christmas. Artisans sell traditional Veronese crafts, and there's an abundance of local food to savor. The market typically runs from early December to late December, offering a romantic setting for holiday festivities.

We Recommend: Try pandoro, a star-shaped Veronese cake dusted with powdered sugar, which is a Christmas delicacy in this region.

Merano's Passeggiata Lungo Passirio

The spa town of Merano offers a unique Christmas market experience along the Passer River. The Merano Christmas Market along the Passeggiata Lungo Passirio is known for its focus on wellness and nature. Visitors can enjoy handmade products, local food, and even spa treatments in the open air. The market usually starts in late November and continues until the first week of January, providing a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

We Recommend: Indulge in a traditional South Tyrolean apple strudel, a perfect sweet treat to enjoy in the crisp mountain air.

Milan's Piazza Duomo

Milan, Italy's fashion capital, also knows how to dress up for Christmas. The Christmas market in Piazza Duomo is set against the stunning backdrop of the Milan Cathedral. The market features a wide range of Italian and international products, including crafts, clothing, and plenty of festive food. The lights and decorations around the city center add to the holiday atmosphere, making it a must-visit for those in Milan during December.

We Recommend: Sample some panettone, Milan's contribution to Christmas cuisine, known for its fluffy texture and delicious taste.

Whether you're looking for traditional Italian Christmas markets, stunning light displays, or festive events, Italy offers a wealth of destinations to get into the holiday spirit. Each of these places provides a unique experience that combines the country's rich cultural heritage with the joy of the holiday season, making for an unforgettable December in Italy.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Italian For A While
Italian For A While

Italian For A While
Italian For A While

Bari, Italy

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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