Italian Christmas markets are perfect for backpackers looking to experience the real Italy. With their strong family traditions and emphasis on nativity displays and beautifully sourced local food, mercatino di Natale’s capture the best of the festive season.
Come and explore the Alpine wonders of the Trentino Alto Adige region and witness what is surely the most beautiful festival of the year. Every Italian town and city will be hosting a Christmas market, from the romantic wonders of Verona to the passionate Christmas displays in fiery Naples.
Christmas is the perfect time to book a hostel in Italy and we’ve rounded up some of the best markets taking place this year.
Bolzano Christmas Market
What: Christkindlmarkt, Bolzano, Trento-Alto Adige (Italy)
When: 27 November 2014 to 6 January 2015
Why: Bolzano Christmas Market is situated in the north of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland, and is best known for the beauty of its peaks. With the Dolomites providing a majestic backdrop, the food stalls will be in Piazza Walther surrounded by Christmas trees and fairy lights. Underneath the Christmas tree, a nativity play is accompanied by house shaped stalls selling mulled wine, dark chocolate and cinnamon walnut strudel.
Stay: Dorms are available at the nearby Ostello Di TRENTO (Hostel Trento) from €17.
Verona Christmas Market
What: VeroNatale, Verona, Veneto
When: 21 November 2014 to 28 December 2014
Why: Verona is one of the most beautiful towns in northern Italy and they host a German style market every year. It’s a festive meeting point for Italian culture and traditions, where the ancient entrance is illuminated with hundreds of lights extending across the town to the Roman Arena. Piazza dei Signori is the focal point of the “Christkindlmarkt” and there will be 60 stalls selling traditional nativity goods, gourmet treats and Christmas cakes.
Stay: Dorms are available at Sleep Easy Hostel Verona from €18.
Bologna Christmas Market
What: Fiera di Natale, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna
When: 17 November 2014 to 31 December 2014
Why: Bologna’s Fiera di Natale is a glorious festive occasion in “La Rossa” and cloisters around the 12th-century San Pietro Cathedral. Situated in the medieval centre of Bologna, the Fiera di Natale has a mouthwatering reputation for cuisine. Sweet tooth travellers can enjoy Italian marzipan, chocolate and torrone, a local Christmas nougat made with nuts and honey.
Stay: Dorms are available at Centro Europa Uno from €17.
Rome Christmas Market
What: Piazza Navona Christmas Market, Rome, Lazio
When: December 1 2014 to January 6 2015
Why: Piazza Navona is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Italy and can found next to three fountains, Four Rivers, Fountains of Neptune and Fontana del Moro. A marvellous attraction for Romans and tourists alike; there is a gala atmosphere throughout the 100-year-old market and it’s a wonderful way to see Rome over Christmas.
Stay: Dorms are available at Star Rooms Hostel from €11.
Naples Christmas Market
What: Naples Christmas Market, Naples, Campania
When: Late November to Late December 2014
Why: Naples holds a traditional Christmas market close to Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is known locally as “Crib Street” (Via del Presepe) because of its wooden workshops. Over the Christmas period the street becomes a huge market selling thousands of nativity cribs, luxury chocolates and festive goodies.
Stay: Dorms are available at Hostel Mancini from €16.