Colorful markets are present in all 20 regions and are an easy way for tourists to engage in the traditions of the Italian Christmas season. From north to south, these are a few examples!
Milan: Piazza Castello
One of the longest standing—the Piazza del Castello market dates back to 1510 when a papal envoy came to Milan with gifts for all the city’s children. The market is still called the Oh Bei! (how beautiful in dialect) in remembrance of the children’s response. Held only for a few days from December 4 – 7, Christmas shoppers and tourists enjoy the 350 + stalls selling everything from antiques to sweet treats, toys and Christmas gifts.
Rome: Piazza Navona
This market stands for 6 weeks from November 26 to January 6 becoming a daily fixture for Romans every year. Besides the many stalls where one can find artisan Christmas decorations, gifts and sweets, this market is also known for the street artists and roaming musicians who take advantage of the daily holiday crowds in a festive mood. Riding the famed carousel in the center of the piazza is a tradition for all Roman children.
Florence: Piazza Santa Croce
This very Florentine market, with its 50 hut-like stalls is held in Paizza santa Croce from November 29 – December 21. Unique to this market is the presence of German Delicacies alongside Italian treats. Tradition holds its inception was inspired by the Christmas market in the German city of Heidelberg; hence it’s second name: Florence Weihnachts market. Exhibitors hale from all over Europe giving this market a distinct flavor.
Naples:Via san Gregoria Armeno
In the south, Christmas decorations center around the Nativity scene. Italians traditionally make a day trip to Naples to see the hundreds of the famed “presepi” made by the city’s artisans on display on the narrow street of Via San Gregoria. Unique to these nativity scenes is the inclusion of figures representing the locals: fishermen, butchers, pizza makers, and even soccer stars make their way into traditional Nativity scene! If you still want to see more presepi, you can visit the largest Nativity scene in the world by making a stop at the Museo Nazionale di San Martino in Naples.