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Christmas in Italy: Lights, Romance, and Traditions

6 min read

Christmas in Italy: Lights, Romance, and Traditions
Christmas and Italy go together like fine wine and cheese, the perfect combination. Christmas in Italy is full of wonder, twinkling lights, and a historic backdrop that brings everything merry to life. 
We’re looking at the best places and things to do for your magical Christmas holiday in Italy. From endless traditional markets to historic sites that light up the city, here are the places you should visit in Italy over Christmas. 

Christmas in Rome

Rome… the Eternal City, famous for its historic architecture, art, and history. With its endless range of museums and sites, it is the ultimate getaway for history lovers. But what about at Christmas? 
Well, it’s time to get your walking shoes on because the Christmas markets and lights in Rome are like something out of your favourite kids' Christmas tales. 
The most famous market takes place at Piazza Navona. Here, you can take in the beautiful Italian crafts, sensational traditional foods, and entertainment, set among the historic architecture that makes the entire experience feel like a truly authentic Italian Christmas. 
The 24th of December (Christmas Eve) is the most important for Italians over the festive season. Most families attend Midnight Mass and kiss the statue of baby Jesus as they leave the church. Bells ring through entire towns, bringing a true sense of Christmas magic. 
Many travel to Vatican City to hear the Pope’s sermon, while others head to St. Peter’s Square, where large screens project the sermon for the thousands of visitors. While it’s called midnight mass, the popes sermon takes place earlier in the evening, so get there early to secure your spot. Even if you aren’t religious, this event is truly moving and will have you feeling the Christmas spirit in one of the most historic Italian cities. 
For quick access to Vatican City, Starhotels Michelangelo is within walking distance. The classic interiors, beautiful restaurant and bar, and immaculate cuisine offer you the very best of Rome. 
Image of the city of Rome lit up at night with a Christmas tree

Christmas in Venice

Romance comes alive in Venice over Christmas. The winding waterways with serenades through the city's most beloved historic sites is the ultimate romantic holiday activity. While it is winter, huddling up under a blanket and taking in the sites is one thing you don’t want to miss on your Christmas holiday in Italy. 
Like in Rome, midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a very important part of Italian tradition. If you want to join in, St Mark's Basilica hosts a massive service, conducted in different languages, so most visitors can partake. The gorgeous cathedral is the ideal backdrop for this traditional Italian celebration. 
Another must-see is on the Island of Murano, also known as Glass Island. It is infamous for its glass production, where masterpieces are created by some of Italy's best artisans. While magnificent on any given day, over Christmas, the Island of Murano shines brighter. From the full-size Christmas tree made solely of glass to shimmering colourful lights, the island is an absolute must-see during Christmas in Venice. 
Venice over the festive season can be crowded, so booking your hotel in Venice ahead of time is essential if you want to enjoy all this stunning city has to offer. 
Image of Christmas tree ornaments made with Murano Glass from Venice

Christmas in Milan

If you’re after Christmas lights, you don’t get much better than Christmas in Milan. The streets are lined with beautiful fairy lights and the Christmas markets are out of this world fantastic! 
For some luxury last-minute Christmas shopping, be sure to make your way to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, where a magnificent Christmas tree awaits, overlooking the amazingly grand architecture from 1867. To be close to the shopping extravaganza, hotel Sina De La Ville puts you within walking distance of the Galleria and is situated just behind the famous Piazza del Duomo. 
Christmas in Milan officially starts on the 7th of December when the massive Christmas tree is lit up in Piazza del Duomo. This is the centre of the city, lying just outside the sensational Milan Cathedral. Here, you will also find one of the best Christmas markets in Italy with over 60 stalls dedicated to everything merry. 
The Gothic Duomo Cathedral is one of the city’s star attractions and is definitely worth making your way to the top to explore. As the second-largest cathedral in Italy, it’s a unique site with magnificent statues and white marble architecture. Midnight mass is hosted on Christmas Eve with traditional sweet treats available as you exit. 
Image of The Gothic Duomo Cathedral lit up at night with a Christmas Tree in front

Christmas in Naples 

Known for its incredible history and architecture, Naples is the perfect Christmas getaway for those who want a true cultural exploration without the hustle and bustle of the big cities. 
One of the best things to do over Christmas in Naples is visit Naples' Historic Centre. This UNESCO-declared Cultural Heritage Site is in the heart of the city and offers over three-square miles of history. Walking the cobbled streets and narrow alleys is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon trying some of the local foods, like a traditional pizza slice or heavenly gelato. 
The biggest draw to Naples over Christmas is the famous nativity scene along Via San Gregorio Armeno. Here you can take in thousands of nativity figurines made by artists throughout the year. 
Naples is also home to nearly 450 historic churches with some sensational architecture and history to be discovered. This is a history lovers' dream Christmas destination. To keep the history exploration going, a stay at Hotel Palazzo Alabardieri will put you within a ten-minute walk of the Royal Palace and the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola. 
Image of an ornamental nativity scene set

Christmas in Florence 

Florence Centre is the ideal place for a traditional Italian Christmas. Since the centre is compact, getting around on foot to see the beautiful displays of lights and decorations across the city is easy. The light shows at the famous Ponte Vecchio and various monuments and museums are an absolute treat. 
The largest Christmas market in Florence is in the Piazza di Santa Croce. This German-style wood stall market has everything you could need for a traditional Christmas, including food, crafts, furniture, and decorations. The stunning Florence Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) lends itself to a gorgeous white Christmas feel. 
The Brunelleschi Hotel puts you in the heart of Florence with the famous Piazza Duomo and other landmarks situated only moments away. This four-star hotel offers an authentic Italian feel with luxury dining and a pristine location for a Christmas getaway in Florence. 
Image of Christmas decorations and lit up buildings in the city of Florence in Italy

Discover the Real Italy with Citalia 

Are you ready to experience Italy at Christmas? Citalia are the UK’s leading Italy specialist with over 90 years' experience in tailoring holidays to Italy. Experts are on hand every step of the way to ensure you make memories to last a lifetime. It’s never too late to start planning your Italian escape!
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Visit citalia.com to discover the real Italy on your next adventure. Andiamo!
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