A thin layer of snow covers the town. Bright lights of various shapes and colors illuminate the scene and wooden stalls decorated with pine branches, holly and multi-colored glass balls fill the town square. You can smell the mulling spices is in the air and you can hear a choir singing traditional songs. Welcome to the Christmas Markets!

This tradition originated in Germany in the Late Middle Age, but it is now very popular in Italy as well, especially in the villages and towns of Northern Italy. Bolzano, Trento, Verona, Bormio and Livigno, just to quote the most famous ones. But also in Southern Italy there is something unique: if you are around Naples at Christmas time, do not miss the chance to visit the workshops of Via San Gregorio Armeno. Skilful artisans make beautiful Nativity scenes. Everything is hand-made, but what makes this place so famous is that statues of politicians, actors and people from the news are part of the Nativity scene. Neapolitan creativity is marvelous!

December weekends are often spent hunting for an original and special present to give to friends and family. Christmas markets are a great occasion for buying very good quality and original items. You can find either decorative presents or useful ones, like great winter attire or clever tools that you can use for cooking. The stalls selling biscuits and cakes are very tempting. You cannot resist a friendly nonna (grandmother) offering you a smiling bear made of gingerbread.  You walk, you explore, you take notes on where you saw the perfect present for your sweetheart. When you’re cold, a glass of Vin Brulé (Glὔwein or mulled wine) will be a bliss warming your soul. Vin Brulé is red wine, served hot with mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and star anise. Simply delicious.

You keep on walking through the stalls and you hear a loud familiar laugh: Santa Claus is in town! Have you ever wondered where the Santa’s myth comes from? There are several myths and legends, but the most likely story is the one of Saint Nicholas of Myra. He lived in the IV century and was the Christian bishop of Myra, a city of the Byzantine Empire, now Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor. In particular, he gave the three poor daughters of an honest Christian man the dowry to get married, so that they would not have to become prostitutes. If you try to pronounce SAINT NICHOLAS it sounds quite like SANTA CLAUS.

Italian Christmas Markets are becoming a very popular winter destination, but Italy is a country enjoyable every month of the year. If an Italy authentic experience is on your travel list check our Group Tours to Italy. You’ll travel in a small group (10 people maximum), with a local tour director that will be like a friend unveiling the true soul of Italy. You’ll make new friends, see Italy like a local and bring home amazing memories.