Top 7 Christmas markets in Italy

Italy is a wonderful place to be in the run-up to Christmas. Its markets are a merry mix of Alpine and Mediterranean traditions, with delicious festive treats to boot. To help you, here is our selection of the very best. Buon Natale!
Bolzano's Christmas market
Bolzano's Christmas market

Italy lights up during the festive season with a myriad of Christmas markets popping up across the country. They all have their own distinct flavour and style, with the northern ones more Germanic in theme and atmosphere. Here are our picks of the very best:

1. Trento

The Trento Christmas Market is one of the most festive markets in the Trentino region. Spreading from Piazza Fiera to Piazza Cesare Battisti, the market is very Alpine in feel, with mini-chalet stalls selling a wide selection of the region's delicious specialities, including the bread dumplings known as canderli and the very Germanic strudel. There are also plenty of Trentino wines to choose from, as well as local crafts.

Open: 24 November 2018 – 6 January 2019 (closed 25 Dec)

2. Bolzano

Soak up the magic of Christmas in the traditional mercantile town of Bolzano, in the region of Alto-Aldige. Bolzano's Piazza Walther, in the medieval centre blessed with romantic arcaded streets and picturesque lanes, is steeped in Christmassy scents and sounds. And the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites only adds to the fairy-tale experience. Very Germanic in feel, you can feast on strudel and apple fritters. Children will have a fun time too, with a miniature train, a merry-go-round and a puppet show. Fancy heading to Bolzano to experience its Christmas market? Contact Insight Guides' local experts for a choice of tailor-made itineraries throughout Italy.

Open: 23 November 2018 – 6 January 2019 (closed 25 Dec)

Carousel at the Christmas Market in Bolzano.

Carousel at the Christmas Market in Bolzano. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Verona

The hometown of Romeo and Juliet plays host every year to a Nuremberg Christmas Market in the central Piazza dei Signori. The traditional wooden huts sell a variety of typical food, handicrafts, tree decorations, and cribs, for all your Christmas shopping needs. As well as this, you'll find heart-warming mulled wine, Stollen and Lebkuchen cakes, bratwurst sausages and more. Spend a day exploring Verona as part of Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes trip, with your handy Insight Pocket Guide: Italian Lakes and Verona.  

Open: TBC

4. Aosta

The success of this “Marché Vert de Noël”, one of the most renowned Christmas markets in the Alps, is explained by its fabulous location inside a Roman arena. The arena is filled with a forest of fir trees and little wooden huts selling traditional handicrafts such as ceramics, wooden objects, woolly jumpers, Christmas decorations and local foodie produce.

Open: 24 November 2018 – 6 January 2019 (opens at 4pm on 25 Dec)

Christmas is a magical time to visit Florence.

Christmas is a magical time to visit Florence. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Florence

The Mercato Tedesco di Natale on Piazza Santa Croce is, as its name suggests (tedesco is Italian for German), Germanic in feel. In fact, it is inspired more specifically by the annual festive market in the picturesque German city of Heidelberg. Think wooden huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations and more. Don't miss the superb Nativity scene on Piazza del Duomo, with its life-size terracotta statues made by an artisan of Impruneta, a village in the outskirts of Florence famous for its terracotta items. Give yourself a Florentine Christmas by booking our Florence: A Trip Back in Time holiday, which will take you to the best of the quintessential Renaissance city. Explore Florence features the best walking routes around the city – don't forget your copy!

Open: TBC

6. Bologna

Bologna is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Italy. It spreads out over two locations: the Fiera di Natale market in front of the 12th-century San Pietro Cathedral, and the smaller Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia in the cloisters Santa Maria dei Servi church, where it has been based since 1796. As ever in Bologna, La Grassa ("the fat") gastronomy is a key part of the market, especially torrone (festive nougat) and marzipan fruit creations. Bologna's Nativity scene is unique in that it includes two characters found nowhere else: ‘The Wonder’, a woman who stands in awe at the infant Christ, and the male ‘Sleeper’, who lies slumbering in the background. You can pick up a copy of our Insight Pocket Guide: Bologna here

Open: TBC

 Nativity scene with hand made figurines displayed in Naples. Nativity scene with hand made figurines displayed in Naples. Photo: Shutterstock

7. Naples

It's Christmas all year-round in Naples. It may be the only southern city on our list, but it is worth the special trip for its unique Nativity Scene figurines, handcrafted by master artisans in their workshops lining the narrow Via San Gregorio Armeno. The figurines vary from the traditional Holy Family to caricatures of famous historic people. The craftsmanship is incredible, with prices to match. Book onto Insight Guides' Best of South Italy: Rome, Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast today to experience Christmas in Naples this year. Don't forget a copy of your essential travel guide: Explore Naples and the Amalfi Coast!

The shops on Via San Gregorio Armeno are open year-round. 

Ready to take your festive trip to Italy with Insight Guides?

Browse suggested trip itineraries online. Alternatively, talk to one of our local experts today and create your holiday from scratch. Just tell us your interests, budget and when you want to go. Our experts will create an itinerary for you, which you can amend until you are completely satisfied! All that's left for you to do is pack...

This article was originally published on December 5, 2016