Italy is a magical place to visit, especially on Christmas . Festive traditions abound and the most important is that it remains a very important family event. Did you know that Italy is the birthplace of the Christmas Carol, too. Allegedly, St. Francis of Assisi introduced the Christmas tradition of carolling?!
Nativity scenes are set up everywhere. The streets are filled with lights and decorations that illuminate every corner of the city. Suggestive theme illuminations light up the squares creating a really suggestive light show.
On the 8th of December, even the houses dress up for the holidays. The Christmas tree with its decorations and the crib are the protagonists of the festivities.
While the characteristic Christmas markets are very typical in this period, with regional products and handmade objects by local artisans. You can walk around the city center and taste hot chocolate, the best drink choice.
In central-southern Italy it is possible to find the zampognaro, a musician who goes around the streets of the villages playing the zampogna, a very ancient wind instrument. While in north Italy, the living cribs where children and adults represent the main characters, artisans of the past and offer food and drink to visitors.
The tables of Italians are a riot of flavors and colors. During the holidays it is possible to find lots of delicious festive food. It is not Christmas without Pandoro and Panettone. Panettone is the king of the Christmas table. The legend says that it was born by chance, without the search for an elaborate recipe or special ingredients. It seems, in fact, that a baker's apprentice, in order to make the bread more substantial given the winter cold and the scarcity of food, decided to enrich it by adding eggs, butter and candied fruit, thus giving the world a cake that over the centuries will become one of the most popular symbols of the holidays.
However, Italian dishes related to Christmas tradition are really many and they vary from one region to another: turnip soup and cotechino, sfincione, struffoli and cartellate are just some of the dishes you can find.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, the gifts brought by Santa Claus, dressed in red and pulled by reindeer, are unwrapped and the children recite the poems they learned at school.
The festivities conclude on January 6, with Epiphany. The Befana, an old lady, with a hump and hooked nose, leaves gifts and sweets to the children who have been good, and pieces of coal to those who have been less good.
If you are wondering where to go, make it simple and choose Italy, Buon Natale!