While some of the Christmas Markets in Italy are fashioned after the ones you’d find in Germany and Austria, Milan’s December fair is 100 percent made in Italy. It’s known locally as Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (meaning “how beautiful!” in local dialect). Legend has it that it dates back to the 1500s, when a papal envoy came to Milan bearing gifts for all the city’s children (who couldn’t help but cry “oh bej!” at the sight).
Bolzano is one of Italy’s largest and oldest Christmas markets. In the shadow of the snow-covered Dolomites, the medieval city center hosts numerous stalls selling locally made wares and traditional treats. The rustic romance is enough to charm visitors of all ages, but kids will be especially impressed with the Children’s Market, complete with miniature train, puppet theater and merry-go-round. In addition to the handcrafted local products like wool accessories, toys, and ornaments, you can of course find food stands, plus an array of eat-in restaurants. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore the uniquely special atmosphere!
The Trento Christmas market is one of the most famous in the region. You can buy traditional decorations and nativity scenes. A gourmet section is dedicated to local specialties such as treccia mochèna (plaited pastry cake), polenta brustolada (grilled polenta), and canederli (dumplings), as well as vin brulè (mulled wine) and parampampoli (hot toddies). City center venue of Piazza Fiera.
Verona has a tradition of romance and you’re sure to fall in love with this dreamy Christmas Market, which takes influences from Germany. You’ll find German foods, from sausage to stollen (a Christmas fruit bread) and Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in the stalls enclosed in the central Piazza Signori. The city’s famed Roman arena and historical entrance are illuminated with thousands of lights and a giant Christmas star.
There are larger Christmas markets in Italy, but few can boast a better backdrop than Florence’s gorgeous Gothic basilica in Piazza di Santa Croce. As you’d expect from its name, the Florence Weihnachtsmarkt draws heavily on German traditions – but its 50 or so wooden huts house a mixture of exhibitors from all over Europe, so you’re sure to some Florentine panforte (fruit cake) to go with your Bratwurst.