Christmas in Italy is festive, with markets, lights, Christmas trees, and music in the streets. Below we recommend seven of our favorite Italy Christmas Destinations. The Christmas season in Italy starts on December 8th (Immaculate Conception) and ends on January 6th (Ephiphany).
Our Favorite Italy Christmas Destinations
To soak up all the special things that Christmas in Italy has to offer, here are seven Italy Christmas destinations we recommend.
Rome: It’s where the Pope spends Christmas. Enough said? Furthermore, the city has great nativity scenes, a wonderful Christmas market in Piazza Navona, and lots of culinary highlights. Throw in its regular amazing sights, making Rome at Christmas is a great destination.
Naples: If you want a festive atmosphere but with fewer tourists, go to Naples. Known for its nativity scenes, the city is also near some of Italy’s most amazing archaeological sites. And, the iconic Amalfi Coast is an easy day trip.
Florence: Worth visiting at any time of year, in December the city hosts a great Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce. In addition, a gorgeous light festival, Firenze F-light illuminates the city (video below). And finally, on January 6th, the city puts on a reenactment of the Gift of the Magi.
Gubbio, Umbria: Home to the world’s largest Christmas tree, this gorgeous city in the region of Umbria also has a pretty Nativity scene. Gubbio is one of my favorite Umbrian cities at any time of year.
Perugia, Umbria: In addition to a great Christmas market held in the castle (the Rocca Paolina), Perugia has an ice skating rink and a panoramic Ferris wheel at this time of year. In addition, gorgeous lights decorate the city. It also hosts the “street of Nativity scenes” in Borgo Sant’Antonio.
Montecatini Terme, Tuscany: This one’s for the kids! The town has a great Christmas market, and the Castle turns in to Santa Claus’ house, complete with an Elf Village. In addition, performances, storytellers, and magic shows entertain children. Families can ride an electric train to explore the Christmas City.
Sant’Agata Feltria: This town is actually called the “Christmas town”. Located about an hour from Rimini in northern Italy, there are nativity scenes, many small Christmas markets. This is also a great Italy Christmas destination for children, who can drop off their wish lists at Santa’s House.
Five Tips for Planning Christmas in Italy
- Be aware that most museums, monuments, and shops close on Christmas Day, December 25th. Many also close on Christmas Eve, December 24th. Some restaurants are open (big hotels are a good option), but meals on these days require some advance planning.
- Christmas in Italy is magical but can be cold. Plan for chilly and humid weather in general. In the north, plan for snow and sleet and fog. In the south, plan for rain.
- Be aware that sunset in Italy in December is before 5 pm.
- In many places in Italy, December is low season, so travelers can get great rates. However, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is often considered to be high season.
- Winter in Italy is a special time of year – specialty foods are everywhere, operas and symphonies are running their programs, and there are fewer crowds. It’s a great opportunity for the traveler to participate in local traditions with Italians during a very important holiday.