As December approaches, Christmas markets spring up all over Europe. Although traditionally more popular in Northern European countries, Christmas markets are now becoming much more widespread and, thanks to the north of the country’s proximity to Germanic countries, Italy is one of the best destinations for combining festive shopping at a Christmas market with cultural sightseeing and some delicious food.

Here are some of the best Christmas markets or “mercatini di Natale” around Italy.

Christmas markets in Bolzano

Unsurprisingly, some of the best Christmas markets in Italy can be found right up in the north east of the country in the autonomous province of South Tyrol, where over 60% of the population speak German as their first language. The region’s two largest towns, Bolzano and Merano, are both famous for the size and quality of their Christmas markets. With both towns just a stone’s throw from the spectacular Dolomite Mountains, the festive snowy backdrops couldn’t be more captivating.

Christmas markets in Florence

Florence’s largest Christmas market is set up in the square in front of Santa Croce to the east of the historical center. Inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg, the market plays host to stalls selling gifts and delicious treats from across Germany and Italy. Smaller Christmas markets are also held throughout the city in Piazza del Duomo and the Giardini della Fortezza, which features an ice-skating rink. Admire the city’s famous Christmas lights display as you stroll between the different locations.

Christmas markets in Bologna

The Christmas market held in Bologna’s Fiera di Santa Lucia is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Italy, with countless stalls selling Christmas ornaments and gift ideas lining the city’s characteristic covered porticos. Bologna is well known as the foodie heart of Italy and this reputation really comes into its own during the holiday season. The city’s Christmas markets teem with delicacies to be sampled or simply to whet your appetite for the incredible dinner you’re bound to be having that evening. The historical center is decorated with a light display—make sure you don’t miss the city’s large Christmas tree opposite the Fountain of Neptune.

Christmas markets in Naples

While Northern Italy may be the most obvious choice for Christmas markets, if you’re happy to skip the wintry landscapes in search of a milder climate, Naples makes a great destination in the run up to the holiday season. The tradition of nativity scenes, or presepe, is very important in Naples—stores along via San Gregorio Armeno in the Spaccanapoli neighborhood attract tourists all year round, who buy figures to take home for their own nativity scenes. A more elaborate Christmas market is set up in the area every December.

Other Christmas market ideas around Italy

By now you’ve probably realized that Christmas markets have become extremely popular across Italy, with a handful of stalls often set up in the main square of the most small towns and cities. If none of the suggestions above have sparked your imagination, here are a few other ideas:


This town in the heart of Umbria has a strong Christmas tradition thanks to its association with Saint Francis. It also creates a unique Christmas tree of lights on the mountain slope behind the city every year and hosts a German-style Christmas market with food and craft vendors.


Milan celebrates the feast on its patron saint Sant’Ambrogio on December 7th, kicking off the holiday season early. The squares around the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio and the Castello Sforzesco fill with stalls selling handicrafts, antiques, toys, gifts, and plenty of delicious treats.


This small picturesque town near Lake Garda has an incredible atmosphere that comes into its own during the winter. Combine a visit to its Christmas market with a stop off by the lake to admire the stunning views. In addition to the stalls, the market also stages demonstrations of ancient crafts, hosts shows, and receives a visit from none other than Santa Claus himself!