Fancy an alternative Christmas holiday in a different place rather than your Country? Head to Italy for glittering gondolas, magical markets and cities sprinkled with Christmas lights.
Here are our top picks for places to spend Christmas in Italy.
Venice is magical every day, but during Christmas the city is decorated with thousands of lights, giving it a truly enchanting look. Even the gondolas are given a festive fairy light makeover for the holiday season. The main piazzas are full of Christmas markets where you can pick up handmade crafts and murano glass gifts, while listening to the concerts going on in the local churches. In the nearby Murano suburb of Venice – famous for making the finest glass in the world – you’ll also find the largest glass-blown Christmas tree, which is 3 metres wide and 8.5 metres high.
Maybe you’ve seen Florence several times, but seeing it during Christmas has a totally different taste. Get your sightseeing fix in Florence over Christmas, as the famous galleries and acclaimed museums are much quieter. The Uffizi and Accademia are even open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day so you can check out Michelangelo’s David and The Birth of Venus. For a special Christmas Eve experience, head to the Duomo for midnight mass. You’ll also be able to see a giant Christmas tree in the Piazza del Duomo and a life-size nativity scene made with local terracotta.
For a different Christmas holiday, pick the gorgeous coastal town of Sorrento in the Neapolitan Riviera and explore the twisted lanes of the old town covered in pretty decorations. The churches create elaborate nativity displays, and there’s street entertainment in the town square every weekend from the end of November to the first week of January. Pose by the giant Christmas tree in Piazza Tasso, which plays a timed light and music show every so often, and pay a visit to the pretty Piazza Lauro which is decorated like a snow village. It will be nice to see Sorrento in another guise.
Christmas in Sicily is a traditional, rather than commercial, affair. Decorations go up on the 8th of December, after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and you’ll find plenty of festive markets and nativity scenes, and see processions through the towns. If you head to the Madonie Mountains on Christmas Eve, commonly known as the night of the Luminari, you’ll see bonfires lit up in all the small towns, signifying the tradition of ‘keeping Baby Jesus warm’. Pick the hillside town of Taormina, on Sicily’s east coast, as your base for a vibrant festive atmosphere and stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Etna.
For a Guiness World Record Christmas holiday, you can’t miss a stop in Gubbio, where “The World’s Largest Christmas Tree” is made very year. The Tree is over 650-meters high, with more than 250 green points of light, about 300 multicolored lights and a star of 1.000 m² on top of the tree, designed by 200 lights. The biggest Christmas Tree in the world is switched every year, on the Eve of the Immaculate Conception, on 7th of December. It remains active throughout the holiday season, until the day of Epiphany, on 6th January, or slightly beyond. Gubbio is a village nestled in the Umbrian mountains, very impressive to visit at Christmas, not only for its giant tree, but also for the Christmas market in Piazza Grande and the magical atmosphere that unfolds from the streets of the village.
Ready for your Italian Christmas escape?