Celebrate the patron saint of fireworks, December 4th
There's no shortage of saint days in December: the Feast of San Nicolo on the 6th is marked with parades and special events in Abruzzo and Murano near Venice; Milan celebrates its Saint Ambrose with a holiday on the 7th, and after Christmas Italians mark Saint Stephen's Day on the 26th. But the Festa di Santa Barbara on the 4th is perhaps the most exciting date for visitors, because as well as the traditional parades and religious ceremonies, the celebration is marked with firework displays across the country – Barbara is the patron saint of firework-makers, as well as artillery men, fire fighters and the town of Paternò in Sicily.
Escape Venice's bell tower, until December 8th
Venice's medieval Noale bell tower will be transformed into an 'escape room' – a craze sweeping the world which sees visitors 'trapped' in a room and faced with puzzles to solve if they ever want to escape. You'll have exactly one hour to try to piece together the clues in a story inspired by real historical events, when the tower was under siege. Participants take on the role of brave nights tasked with defending the city – are you up to the challenge?
Tickets cost €60 for a group of two to six people; they must be booked in advance from the website.
Join a gathering of Santas, December 4th, Turin
The seventh annual 'Santa gathering' takes place outside Turin's Regina Margherita hospital from 10:30-14:30. The aim of the event is to bring a smile to the faces of the children in the hospital through singing, dancing and general festive cheer, and money raised goes towards buying new equipment for the children's emergency room. Don't forget your costume!
L'Artigiano in Fiera, December 5th-13th Milan
With over 3,000 exhibition booths, this is one of Italy's largest trade fairs, now in its 20th year of celebrating food, crafts and other products from artisans hailing from across Italy and the world. There are more than 60 eating areas and special activities for children which can be enjoyed as you wander through the different halls, each devoted to crafts from one area of the world: Italy has an entire hall to itself, and there are also sections for the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Admission is free.
Eat chocolate and wine, December 8th-11th, Sicily
While we whole-heartedly encourage indulging in chocolate and wine wherever you are this festive season, the best place to do it has to be at the ChocoModica festival in Sicily. Modica's famous dark chocolate, together with Sicilian Marsala wine, will be celebrated together with this three-day festival. The event includes musical performances, workshops, talks and activities for children, as well as plenty of opportunities for tasting the regional specialities.
See Florence in a whole new light, December 8th-27th
Every evening during the Florence Light Festival, from 7pm to midnight, the city will be illuminated. Favourite landmarks including the Statue of David, Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery will be lit up with bright colours and artistic projections, allowing you to look at one of Italy's most beautiful cities in a new way. There will also be games and talks in the 15 locations taking part – check the website for the full programme.
Visit a Lego art exhibition, from December 12th, Rome
Prepare to be wowed at Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica, which will host over 70 art sculptures made out of over one million Lego bricks. The 'Art of the Brick' exhibition is back by popular demand after its first showing last year, when it received over 120,000 visitors and rave reviews. You'll see a recreation of Rome's own Sistine Chapel, Lego versions of classic works of art including the Mona Lisa and Munch's The Scream, and an enormous T-rex that took 80,000 bricks to build. Perhaps the highlight is the interactive section of the exhibition, which invited visitors to create their own works of Lego art.
Tickets cost €17.50, with reductions for under-12's, over-65's and families, and they can be bought here.