Italian flavours on show at Christmas markets

Trento's Christmas market
Trento’s Christmas market

Italy lights up for the Christmas season with some of the most interesting markets across Europe, combining Mediterranean flavours and German traditions, festive food and wine, gift ideas, decorations and local handicraft.

Here is a selection of markets that are worth making a detour for this year …

Bolzano/Bozen: Alpine – Mediterranean Christmas

Savour the magic of Christmas in the traditional mercantile town of Bolzano, at the meeting point of north and south, where the cultures and traditions of central Europe and the Mediterranean. Bright lights, scents and sounds steeped in tradition pervade the medieval centre, with its romantic arcaded streets and picturesque lanes emanating their nostalgic atmosphere. Emotions are heightened by the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites!
Piazza Walther/ Waltherplatz
28 Nov 2014 – 6 Jan 2015

The Trento Christmas Market in Piazza Fiera is one of the most famous festive markets of the region. This year it will also spread to occupy Piazza Cesare Battisti with more stalls and mini-chalets offering a wide selection of Trentino’s many excellent foods, wines and crafts.
22 Nov 2014 – 6 Jan 2015

Arco, Lake Garda
A magical atmosphere and characteristic wooden huts, offering high quality crafts at Christmas Markets, where you can find original gift ideas: candles, lanterns, decorations, local products, toys and much more. Additional features are Christmas carols and entertainment and, on 8 December, an Advent Calendar projected on the buildings in the town centre, a magical night with a wonderful firework display.
21 Nov 2014 – 4 Jan 2015

Christmas lights in Gubbio, Umbria
Christmas lights in Gubbio, Umbria
Bolzano market gets a covering of snow
Bolzano market gets a covering of snow

Levico Terme
You will experience a festive atmosphere in the heart of the legendary Hapsburg Park in Levico Terme during the Advent period, with soft lighting that illuminates the majestic plants of the age-old arboretum and characteristic wooden huts. In this charming setting, adults and children can explore the Christmas Market and the most genuine Trentino-Tyrolean popular traditions, with street shows and games, sweets and delicacies, the Elves’ House, creative workshops, a pet farm, mini-train and horse-drawn carriage.
22 Nov 2014 – 6 Jan 2015

Cortina D’Ampezzo
n the shadow of the Tofane, the advent period takes on its traditional colours thanks to the Cortina Christmas Market, which brings lights, colour and a festive atmosphere to the main street, Corso Italia. The famous pedestrian street lined by renowned national and international shops, will be scattered with small wooden huts where artisans and local producers exhibit their products. All accompanied by mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and traditional sweets. Inside each of the characteristics wooden huts, a variety of seasonal merchandise, representing the crafts and traditions of the area, will be exhibited and offered for sale. To complete the atmosphere, and to make the browsing and shopping even more enjoyable, there will of course be music to fit the mood, in the form of all the most cherished and traditional Christmas songs.
5 Dec 2014 – 4 Jan 2015

The successful recipe of the “Marché Vert Noël”, one of the most known Christmas markets of the Alps, is explained by the location. A coloured alpine village surrounded by music and lights, with roads, squares, bridges, wooden chalets and a true fir forest, is recreated in the “heart” of Aosta. Visitors will be able to walk around the “streets” of the village searching for a gift or simply admiring the traditional handicrafts such as ceramics, wooden items, clothing accessory in wool, felt, leather and hemp fabric, Christmas decorations and typical gastronomic products.
29 Nov 2014 – Jan 6 2015.

In Trieste you can feel the old charm of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in its Christmas Market in Piazza Sant’Antonio and surrounding streets: typical Trieste foods and wines, Christmas decorations, artificial snow, songs and music to accompany the visitor during the festive season.
10 – 24 Dec 2014

There is also a French Christmas Market in the same Piazza selling French and Italian delicacies.
22 – 30 November 2014.

A typical village in Basilicata, southern Italy
A typical village in Basilicata, southern Italy


Christmas is a well loved tradition all over Italy and traditional seasonal markets and fairs can be found all over the peninsula in the most important cities.

Piazza Navona Christmas Market
Over Christmas, the piazza is suddenly swamped by a bustling multi-coloured market, selling cribs, decorations and sweets. A treat for young children, it reaches its height of excitement on the night of 5th January, when the “Befana” (The Good Witch) flies about the country, delivering presents to “well-behaved “ children and pieces of coal to the naughty ones.
1 Dec 2014 – 6 Jan 2015

Christmas fairs held in various piazzas (campo) in Venice: Campo S.Bartolomeo, Campo San Salvador, Campo San Luca, Campo Manin and Strada Nuova.
20 – 24 Dec 2014

Mercato Tedesco di Natale (German Christmas Market)
Piazza Santa Croce
This market is inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg, wooden huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations, handicrafts.
3 – 21 Dec 2014

Fiera di Santa Lucia
Portico of Chiesa dei Servi in Strada Maggiore
The Santa Lucia market takes place at Portico dei Servi at the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi in the heart of Bologna. In front of the church building there is an airy space surrounded by porticoes of tall marble columns.
This traditional fair is dedicated to Christmas with stalls full of decorations for the Christmas tree, a nativity crib, food and wine and other delicacies.
17 – 28 Nov 2014

Nativity Cribs in Via S. Gregorio Armeno
This narrow street is famous all over the world for its handcrafted Nativity Crib figurines, from the traditional ones to the most sophisticated, it buzzes at Christmas time with Neapolitans and tourists alike. This year there will also be a fair at Palazzo Venezia “The stars of Epiphany” from 2 to 6 January 2015 were the visitors can taste all the traditional food and cakes of the Neapolitan Christmas tradition

Il Villaggio delle Meraviglie
Giardini Indro Montanelli, entry from Corso Venezia.
Christmas market and other seasonal activities for adults and children takes place in these gardens in the centre of Milan, with a skating rink and shows with various performance artists throughout the festive season.
29 Nov 2014 – 11 Jan 2015

Milan also hosts every year the “Oh Bej Oh Bej” fair during the celebrations of its Patron Saint, Saint Ambrose, in the area near the Sforza Castle. It is a very traditional market fair with typical Milanese artisan food, wines and other products.
5 – 8 Dec 2014

This traditional market returns with many new exhibitors and full of joy, colour, tradition, celebration, solidarity, peace, light and sweetness: a wide range of gift items for Christmas, together with tastings and selling of culinary delights and specialities of Piedmont producers and other Italian regions.
Piazza Borgo Dora, 34.
4 – 23 December 2014


Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

Leave a Reply