5 Best Cities To Spend Christmas In Italy
Anyone planning a Christmas holiday in Europe should consider these five destinations in Italy. Winter is the perfect time for an Italian vacation, as there are fewer tourists, which means shorter waiting times at monuments, museums and restaurants. The country also offers a range of unique festivities and traditions over the holidays. The Italian Christmas season starts on December 8 and runs through to January 6, giving ample time to plan your trip. Let’s take a brief look at five locations in Italy, ideal for your Christmas stay.
1. Christmas in Rome, Italy
Rome is one of the top spots in Italy for a luxury holiday and tour of Italy at Christmas, as most of the major tourist sites are still open daily. They only close on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Enjoy the best festive retail therapy at the large Christmas market in Piazza Navona, which runs from late November through to early January. However, this market does tend to be tourist-centric, so for a genuine Italian experience, head to Piazza Mazzini.
Of interest to note, Piazza Barberini hosts an enormous menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. While on Christmas Day, a trip to the Vatican offers the chance to hear the Pope’s Christmas message, backed by a huge Christmas tree. Another large Christmas tree can be seen in Piazza Venezia, while the historic center neighborhoods twinkle with Christmas lights.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Piazza del Popolo, with music, fireworks and dancing, while live music performances are held on Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the Colosseum.
2. Spend the holidays in Florence, Italy
Florence is a lively place to spend the Christmas holidays, with many festivities to be enjoyed. Those wanting to do some shopping should head to Piazza Santa Croce and the German Christmas Market. Head to other markets and fairs in the city, including the Emergency Christmas Shop or the British Institute Christmas Fair. Those of the Jewish faith will enjoy seeing the lighting of the Menorah at the synagogue Tempio Maggiore.
New Year’s is a great celebration in Florence, with public concerts held in the Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria. To end the Christmas festivities, Ephiphany is celebrated with the Cavalcade of the Magi through the historic center of Florence, with all participants wearing traditional costumes.
3. A Christmas trip to Milan, Italy
Most people don’t think of Milan when planning a Christmas holiday in Italy. Admittedly, it can get quite cold and the roof of the Duomo is often closed to the public due to ice. However, the city is an enjoyable place to be over the holidays with plenty to see and do.
Early December sees Milan celebrate its patron saint with the Festa di Sant’Ambrogio. At the same time, local arts, crafts, food and drink can be found at the Christmas market near the Duomo. Visitors can gaze at the large Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo, or visit the O Bej, O Bej market, close to Castello Sforzesco. The name isn’t a typo, and actually derives from the Milanese dialect – it translates to “how nice, how nice.” Those of the Jewish faith can enjoy the lighting of the large menorah in Piazza San Carlo.
As Milan is close to the Alps, this makes it an ideal ski location, with slopes suitable for a range of abilities, making it ideal for a mixed trip.
4. Holidays in Naples
Naples is among the mildest cities in Italy during winter, however, it does tend to rain quite often. This makes the city perfect for trips to royal palaces and museums. Of course, visiting Pompeii is a true adventure, as the crowds are much less than in summer.
New Year’s Eve in Naples is a spectacular affair with a huge outdoor music event, along with fireworks in Piazza del Plebiscito. Another charming local tradition is that groups of amateur musicians and children visit house after house to sing Christmas carols in a tradition known as Lo Sciascio.
5. Christmas on the canals of Venice
Venice is a charming and beautiful Christmas location, with a number of Christmas markets, including Natale in Laguna at Campo Santo Stefano. Children will enjoy seeing Santa Claus running around the market on stilts, accompanied by a friend in Carnevale costume.
One must-see location in Venice is Natale di Vetro (Christmas of Glass), held on Murano Island. Here, visitors can gaze at the 20-ft glass Christmas tree. A trip to Campo San Polo offers a small Christmas market and an ice skating rink.
When it comes to the New Year celebrations, visitors and locals alike can enjoy the music, fireworks, Bellini Brindisi (a New Year’s toast) and, while likely not during the pandemic, a giant group kiss at midnight. New Year’s Day features Italy’s version of the “polar bear swim”, when locals jump into the chilly waters at Lido Beach.
Enjoy the festive season in Italy this year, browsing the Christmas markets and enjoying the celebrations.
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Latest update: November 15, 2021