This post is also available in: Italian
Italy is the ideal country to spend the Christmas holidays since it is rich in tradition and beautiful places to visit. If you’re thinking of traveling to Italy over Christmas, here you’ll find some useful tips and activities not to be missed.
In Italy we begin to celebrate Christmas from the early days of December, when cities are filled with lights and shop windows are dressed in red. On December 8th, feast of Immaculate Conception, there is the tradition to decorate the Christmas tree and the houses with Christmas garlands. We keep celebrating until January 6th, Feast of Epiphany.
What to do during Christmas holidays in Italy
In Italy you can lose yourself among the markets in the city center streets, and in particular in the Northern mountain region, but also in major cities such as Rome, Naples, and Florence. You will also find picturesque religious ceremonies, concerts, traditional decorations and above all the Presepe. The presepe is a representation of the birth of Jesus, whose history dates back to Middle Ages. There are usually statuettes representing Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the shepherds, the sheep, the ox, the donkey and the angels. Another way of staging a nativity scene is with a live nativity scene, in which all the characters are real people. If you have the occasion to stay in Italy during the Christmas holidays, you’ll surely get the chance to see a live representation of the Presepe, since they are usually set up in many cities and countries.
The most famous presepe in Italy is in Naples, and it is usually characterized by the glitz and the reproduction of very detailed and realistic scenes. In Naples there is a famous street in the historical centre, Via San Gregorio Armeno, that is very known for its artisan shops.
In Italy we also celebrate the Christmas Eve: usually families stay together for dinner and usually we eat seafood dishes and we play bingo or other board games. At midnight it is traditional to go to mass.
Food, food, food
On Christmas day it is all about food. Each Italian Region has its own traditions: in Tuscany there is the liver pâté on hot crostini, in Lombardia Christmas is syno synonymous with panettone, a dessert made of water, flour, butter, eggs and candied fruits and in Verona in Veneto there is the pandoro, a dessert made from flour, sugar, eggs, butter, cocoa butter and yeast. In Emilia Romagna you will taste the tortellini in broth and other types of pasta – strictly handmade – such as lasagna or noodles. In Sicily the protagonists on the tables are: chicken broth, pasta with sardines and the delicious sweet wines like the Zibibbo, Passito di Pantelleria and Malvasia.
Waiting for the Befana
On January the 6th, when the Three Wise Man came to Jesus child, in Italy we celebrate the Epiphany day. This day is dedicated particularly to the children who are waiting for the Befana, the feminine version of Santa Claus, who will bring them gifts and sweets riding his broom.
If you’ve not planned your Christmas holiday, check out our villas for rent on offer and have yourself a holiday of relaxation and luxury, to discover the best Italian Christmas traditions.