Everyone will tell you that Christmas in Italy is a magical time, and I would not hesitate to agree. Yuletide visitors get to enjoy the twinkling lights and tasteful city decorations that enhance the already charming historic centers.
Italians extend their celebrations through the Feast of Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night), so those visitors who take a post-Christmas break can find themselves immersed in the festive spirit up to 6 January. Epiphany marks the arrival of the Three Kings who brought gifts to the infant Jesus, and the Italians celebrate it through the character of La Befana who brings presents to the children. This is an unfamiliar tradition for most visitors to Italy, and it’s a great opportunity for a new cultural experience.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and it gets slightly more wonderful when spent the world’s most beautiful country – Italy (But we might not be objective when it comes to our opinion of Italy …)
As in many other countries, Christmas in Italy comes with a series of traditions starting as early as November – where in most towns and cities, one can see Christmas markets being set up – such as the Weihnachtsmarkt market in Florence – where one can find a selection of traditional German and Italian Christmas products in the Santa Croce Square.
Come early December, shops, squares and also houses put on their festive look – with most houses being decorated on the 8th of December- which marks a public holiday in Italy celebrating the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when most Italians take the opportunity of a free day off work to decorate their houses together with their families.
Spending Christmas in Italy is as magical as it sounds – our favorite Christmas celebrations are attending midnight mass at the Duomo (or any other church really!) and also, obviously, Christmas Lunch which is taken very seriously! If you intend to have lunch on Christmas day our advice would definitely be to book in advance – as most places will either be fully booked or else closed as smaller family-run restaurants might choose to close and spend the day with their loved ones. No Christmas is Christmas without gaining an extra pound or two…which is an excellent reason to indulge in the many Christmas desserts and sweets such as Pannettone, Pandoro, Panforte, and anything in between.
Following the intake of one too many calories, we would recommend you take a walk around and observe how landmarks magically transform themselves in something more magic on Christmas day. Most museums will be closed on Christmas day, which is why we would recommend you schedule your trip to the museum to the following day: as most museums are open on the 26th December – including the Uffizi and Accademia Gallery in Florence.
Whichever way you choose to spend Christmas in Italy, you’re bound to experience a different yet wonderful day – in a country that cherishes traditions which have shaped its history and people for a long time, and which are bound to give you a Christmas to remember!