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ITALY'S CHRISTMAS MARKETS

TOURISM

Italy’s most enchanting Christmas markets

As Christmas quickly approaches, The Local takes a tour of the most magical markets getting underway across the country, all offering the perfect opportunity to shop for gifts, or simply sup some mulled wine.

Italy's most enchanting Christmas markets
Trento's Christmas market. Photo: Shutterstock

Bressanone, South Tyrol

Photo: PIZZO76/

When? Until January 6th

This beautiful market in South Tyrol is the perfect way to start the Christmas season. With opportunities for carriage rides through the city and a unique light show featuring “Soliman” the elephant, the Christmas market in Bressanone will celebrate its 25th anniversary in style this year.

Merano, South Tyrol

Photo: Matteo Paccioti

When? Until January 6th

A particular favourite for families, the Christmas market in Merano has a wide range of activities to thrill and delight. From Christmas-themed origami workshops to pony rides through the market, there is something for every child. The patron saint of Merano, Saint Nicholas, will also parade through the streets, handing out gifts to all children. 

Santa Maria Maggiore, Piedmont

Photo: Dorli Photography

When? December 6th-8th 

Arguably Piedmont’s best Christmas market, with 200 stalls offering a variety of crafts and homemade specialities, this market truly brings its own unique flare. Here you have the opportunity to try the famous “stincheèt”, a thin sheet of flour cooked on a stove topped with butter and a pinch of salt. Combined with the widely available mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, this market earns its place as one of the best in Italy.

Verona, Veneto

Photo: A.Currell

When? Until December 27th

This German-style market offers a slightly different take on those typically found in Italy, offering bratwurst, a type of sausage; stollen, a fruit bread and lebkuchen, a biscuit similar to gingerbread, among many other culinary delights. The entrance to the city is illuminated with thousands of Christmas lights, setting the scene for a fairy-tale like experience.

Pordenone, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Photo: Giovy

When? Until January 6th

Offering a life-size nativity scene which is erected on December 8th, this market offers its own unique spectacle. There is also a carousel in Piazza Cavour and live music can always be heard. From DJ sets to blues concerts and Big Band performances, this market has something for everyone.

Vipiteno, South Tyrol

 

Photo: Kari

When?  Until January 6th

During the Advent period, this medieval town in South Tyrol becomes rich with the smell of freshly baked Christmas pastries. This year you have the opportunity to watch one of the craftsmen at work, an expert wicker basket maker who will explain his art on stage. Then there is the chance to buy a variety of hand-made, traditional Christmas gifts, all whilst eating apple strudel.

Trento, South Tyrol

Photo: Michela Simoncini

When? Until January 6th

The perfect event for young children, this market offers the chance to write and post a letter to Father Christmas, telling him which gifts they’d like to receive. Some 90 exhibitors offer products including beeswax candles, gnomes carved from wood and local cheeses. You’ll also have the opportunity to buy some trecciamochèna, a plaited pastry cake which is unique to the region.

Rovereto, South Tyrol

Photo: Angelo Ambodi

When? Until January 6th

This market hopes to combine the Christmas traditions of Italy and Hungary in one original event. Offering typical Hungarian sweets and classic Italian dishes, as well as a garden of nativity scenes to admire, this market is one of Italy’s treasures. There is also a “House of Christmas” where children can sit and listen to festive stories.

Florence, Tuscany 

Photo: Any colour you like

When? December 2nd–20th

Although there are a variety of Christmas markets in Florence, the traditional Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Italy’s best. Fifty-five wooden houses will line the streets of Florence’s Santa Croce offering hand-made toys and ceramics as well as traditional German delicacies. Gospel concerts will also be taking place to enhance the festive spirit.

Bolzano, South Tyrol

Photo: djandrea.enet

When? Until January 6th

Located in Italy’s South Tyrol, the close cultural links with Germany delight many during the festive season at the Christmas market in Bolzano. The largest Christmas market in Italy, this event captures the magic of Christmas and offers the festive treats of home-made cookies and strudel, accompanied by traditional Christmas music.

Milan, Lombardy

Photo: Shutterstock

When? December 5th-8th

One of the largest Christmas markets in Italy, Milan’s “Oh bej! Oh bej!” (“How beautiful!” in local dialect) festive offering has over 400 stalls. This year they set up in the shadow of the city’s castle, the Castello Sforzesco.

Cagliari, Sardinia

Photo: Shutterstock

When? December 5th-28th

Organizers in the Sardinian capital describe their festive event at Piazza del Carmine as “a real paradise for gluttons and foodies”. The focus here is on local “Made in Sardinia” products, rather than imports from abroad. 

By Ellie Bennett

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MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Here are the remote Italian villages worth seeking out in 2022, according to a list compiled by one of the country's leading tourism associations.

MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

A total of 270 villages across Italy have been recognised as being especially tourist-friendly this year by the Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano), one of the country’s largest non-profit associations dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism throughout the territory.

‘Orange Flag’ status is awarded if a village is judged to have significant historic, cultural and environmental value, as well as for being welcoming to visitors and outsiders, according to the initiative’s website.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Villages can apply for the status if they are located inland with no coastal stretches; have fewer than 15,000 inhabitants; have a well-preserved historic centre and a strong sense of cultural identity; demonstrate sensitivity to issues of sustainability; have a well-organised tourist reception system; and show an intention to continue to make improvements to the town.

The list is updated annually, and in 2022 three new villages gained orange flag status for the first time: Dozza in Emilia Romagna, Manciano in Tuscany, and Sasso di Castalda in Basilicata.

See below for the map and a list of the Orange Flag villages according to region:

Montepulciano in Tuscany has 'orange flag' status.

Montepulciano in Tuscany has ‘orange flag’ status. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Abruzzo – 7 villages

Civitella Alfadena, Fara San Martino, Lama dei Peligni, Opi, Palena, Roccascalegna, Scanno.

Basilicata – 6 villages

Aliano, Castelmezzano, Perticara Guard, San Severino Lucano, Sasso di Castalda, Valsinni.

Calabria – 6 villages

Bova, Civita, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Oriolo, Tavern.

Campania – 5 villages

Cerreto Sannita, Letino, Morigerati, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Zungoli.

READ MORE: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Emilia Romagna – 23 villages

Bagno di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Busseto, Castell’Arquato, Castelvetro di Modena, Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole, Dozza, Fanano, Fiumalbo, Fontanellato, Longiano, Montefiore Conca, Monteleone, Pennabilli, Pieve di Cento, Portico and San Benedetto, Premilcuore, San Leo, Sarsina, Sestola, Verucchio, Vigoleno.

Friuli Venezia Giulia – 7 villages

Andreis, Barcis, Cividale del Friuli, Frisanco, Maniago, San Vito al Tagliamento, Sappada.

Lazio – 20 villages

Arpino, Bassiano, Bolsena, Bomarzo, Calcata, Campodimele, Caprarola, Casperia, Collepardo, Fossanova, Labro, Leonessa, Nemi, San Donato Val di Comino, Sermoneta, Subiaco, Sutri, Trevignano Romano, Tuscania, Vitorchiano.

Liguria – 17 villages

Airole, Apricale, Balducco, Brugnato, Castelnuovo Magra, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Dolceacqua, Perinaldo, Pigna, Pinion, Santo Stefano d’Aveto, Sassello, Seborga, Toirano, Triora, Vallebona, Varese Ligure.

Lombardy – 16 villages

Almenno San Bartolomeo, Bellano, Bienno, Castellaro Lagusello, Chiavenna, Clusone, Gardone Riviera, Gromo, Menaggio, Pizzighettone, Ponti sul Mincio, Sabbioneta, Sarnico, Solferino, Tignale, Torno.

Marche – 24 villages

Acquaviva Picena, Amandola, Camerino, Cantiano, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Frontino, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Offagna, Ostra , Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Serra San Quirico, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Valfornace, Visso.

Molise – 5 villages

Agnone, Ferrazzano, Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Scapoli.

READ MORE: These are the 20 prettiest villages across Italy

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination.

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Piedmont – 40 villages 

Agliè, Alagna Valsesia, Arona, Avigliana, Barolo, Bene Vagienna, Bergolo, Candelo, Canelli, Cannero Riviera, Cannobio, Castagnole delle Lanze, Cherasco, Chiusa di Pesio, Cocconato, Entracque, Fenestrelle, Fobello, Gavi, Grinzane Cavour, Guarene, La Morra, Limone Piemonte, Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Moncalvo, Monforte d’Alba, Neive, Orta San Giulio, Ozzano Monferrato, Revello, Rosignano Monferrato, Santa Maria Maggiore, Susa, Trisobbio, Usseaux, Usseglio, Varallo, Vogogna.

Puglia – 13 villages

Alberona, Biccari, Bovino, Cisternino, Corigliano d’Otranto, Locorotondo, Oria, Orsara di Puglia, Pietramontecorvino, Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Sant’Agata di Puglia, Specchia, Troia.

Sardinia – 7 villages

Aggius, Galtellì, Gavoi, Laconi, Oliena, Sardara, Tempio Pausania.

Sicily – 1 village

Petralia Sottana

Tuscany – 40 villages

Abetone Cutigliano, Anghiari, Barberino Tavarnelle, Barga, Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Casale d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Castiglion Fiorentino, Certaldo, Cetona, Chiusi, Collodi, Fosdinovo, Lucignano, Manciano, Massa Marittima, Montalcino, Montecarlo, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Peccioli, Pienza, Pitigliano, Pomarance, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Santa Fiora, Sarteano, Sorano, Suvereto, Trequanda, Vicopisano, Vinci, Volterra. 

Trentino Alto Adige – 8 villages

Ala, Caderzone Terme, Campo Tures/Sand in Taufers, Ledro, Levico Terme, Molveno, Tenno, Vipiteno/Sterzing.

Umbria – 10 villages

Bevagna, Città della Pieve, Montefalco, Montone, Nocera Umbra, Norcia, Panicale, Spello, Trevi, Vallo di Nera.

Val d’Aosta – 3 villages

Etroubles, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Introd.

Veneto – 12 villages

Arquà Petrarca, Asolo, Borgo Valbelluna, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Malcesine, Marostica, Montagnana, Portobuffolè, Rocca Pietore, Soave, Valeggio sul Mincio.

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