Starting from the last week of November, the holiday season in Italy is enhanced by the Christmas Markets, a chance for everyone, both tourists and locals, to make purchases of all kinds and to enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas, away from the cold and shiny standardization of big malls and chain shops, in which every Christmas seems completely identical to the past years’ one (and usually starts around October).
As we proud Romans know well, the most famous and beloved of these markets is the one which takes place in Piazza Navona; the square is built upon the ancient stadium of Domiziano, and the christmas market is just modern version of the traditional street market, which used to be held in the square throughout the year. This market is grounded on the figure of the Befana: taking a look at the innumerous bancarelle that sorround the majestic Bernini fountain, you will find little statues and images of this popular witch, her infailing stockings filled with candies, lollipops, black coal and candied apples. But the market stalls are not lacking with handicrafts, toys, Christmas decorations, characters for the traditional presepe, roasted chestnuts, candy floss and… chi più ne ha più ne metta!
But Christmas Markets throughout Italy are several and far more varied and picturesque than you might think. The most important are doubtless the Trentino Alto Adige markets, but every italian region, every major city and many small towns have their own. A particular way to visit Christmas markets in Italy is to choose a subject area to follow: for example, Italy has a long and interesting tradition of Christmas markets held in Castles, in which it is possible to discover the mastery of local crafts; futhermore, in the past decades the so called “zero kilometer Christmas markets” attracted many amongst tourists and locals. If you find yourself near Bolzano you should probably visit the Merano Market, where you will be cast into magical world: small wooden houses, decorated trees, workshops of skilled craftsmen and, of course, so much snow!
2014 is also the year of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War and in Rovereto there will be a great celebration of world peace. The venue for this special Natale dei Popoli will be, of course, the local Christmas Market.
So, if you are looking for a special way to spend your Christmas weekends, you have plenty of choice!
For more news about the markets, click here for a complete list.