My last post about Nativity scenes was warmly appreciated (thanks guys!), so I’d like to celebrate Christmas with you by sharing my top five Christmas markets in the Dolomite area.
Dolomites are in my view the most beautiful mountains in Italy (and some of the most beautiful in the world!), and they are one of the Italian Unesco Heritage sites. Before Christmas most cities and villages in Alto Adige and Trentino are filled with countless lights and wooden houses offering craft made products, typical food, gift ideas and much more, in a magical and touching atmosphere. Northern Europe Christmas traditions and beliefs, particularly strong in this area, magical mountains under the snow and medieval village settings combine together to create a unique experience not to miss if you travel in Northern Italy between end of November and the 6th of January.
Sure, you may not want plan a trip to Italy just to see its Christmas markets, but if you are passing by, or if you are lucky enough to have reserved your sky break in the Dolomites, they well deserve a stop.
So here is my Top Five Christmas Markets list.
Top 1: Christmas Market in Bressanone
Bressanone is a delightful medieval town, thirty Km north of Bolzano. You will love its ancient vaulted streets, the hold houses with their nicely decorated façades and the Cathedral Square, which actually host two cathedrals: the old one (medieval) and the new one (baroque).
Unsurprisingly, this is where the Xmas market is organized, among the cathedral, the parish church of S. Michele and the town hall.
Wonderful decorations and handicrafts are exhibited in many stands: wooden statues, candles, glass balls and angels… In a city pervaded by a sweet scent of mulled wine, cinnamon and cakes, you can taste many typical dishes of Valle Isarco, such as gulasch soup, barley soup and the famous Tirtln, or cakes such as doughnuts, apple or blueberry pancakes and Buchteln with vanilla cream.
The Nativity scene is also worth seeing: in Bressanone, this tradition is 800 years old! In the Diocesan museum you can admire one of the biggest and most famous collections of nativity scenes.
Reportedly, the Christmas Market of Bressanone rated 9 place on CNN’s list of the world’s most beautiful Christmas Markets.
Top 2: Christmas Market in Merano
Merano is a wonderful town, which has been a renowned SPA destination for the last 2 centuries. Merano is rich in beautiful “fin de siècle” buildings and streets and keeps a very classy charm.
The main area where you will find Xmas stands is the promenade along the Passino River, but all the town transforms itself into a gigantic Christmas market offering Christmas decorations, boiled wool slippers, pottery, traditional fabrics, wooden statues and toys, traditional objects such as nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, musical boxes, …
In many stands you can also admire the craftsmen while they are creating their works.
But there’s another reason to come to Merano: the most amazing public Spa of all the region, offering endless indoor and outdoor pools and saunas. Treat yourself with the most amazing public Italian SPA!
Top 3: Christmas Market in Vipiteno
The Christmas Market in the old mining city of Vipiteno is really something else. From November 29 to January 6, the streets of the old town – one of the most beautiful in Italy, with many artistic and cultural treasures from the Middle Ages – are filled with lights and colors, creating a fairy-tale Christmas atmosphere.
The imposing tower Torre delle Dodici, overlooking the main square, is the stunning background to this unique market and to the Nativity scene, whose figures are entirely handmade. The smallest trees were taken from the surroundings of Vipiteno and at the end of the Market they will be used for district heating.
The stands offer the classical selection of handmade creations and local food, such as bread, speck, mulled wine or warm apple juice.
Top 4: Christmas Market in Trento
Trento is a beautiful medieval town, and its Christmas market is the most important od Trentino Alto Adige. Here you will experience a more “Italian” flavor, compared to South Tyrol markets.
Trento hosts its Christmas Market in the charming Piazza Fiera. The exhibitors of the Christmas Market in Trento come from Trentino, Alto Adige and different regions in the North of Italy. Here you will find Christmas handicrafts, such as Christmas decorations, candles, nativity scenes, pictures with pressed flowers, but also the Flavors Market, a real gourmet paradise where you can taste sweet and salty specialties from Trentino and Alto Adige, such asTortel de patate, Cevap from Valle dei Mocheni, Knödeln (dumplings) and pastries, and enjoy with some hot chocolate, mulled wine or Parampampoli.
Top 5: Christmas Market in Bolzano
Bolzano is the main town of Alto Adige Region, and its market is one of the most important of the region.It takes place in the heart of the city, Piazza Walther, which is lit up in bright and gaudy colors. Many events are organized to entertain adults and children.You will enjoy strolling among Bolzano romantic arcades and streets listening to the bands playing Christmas music and admiring the wonderful Advent decorations.
By the way: there’s a snow storm expected in Italy just during Xmas days: it could be a great opportunity of visiting these markets in a snowy, magical atmosphere (and maybe to have a couple of days skying)!
Buon Natale a tutti (Happy Christmas to everybody)!
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