Whether you're with your family, as a couple or on your own, you'll love these 3 suggestions to spice up your Christmas holidays!

Have you already seen the Christmas markets and the superbly decorated squares of the big cities? Are you in the mood for something different? Then join us on this alternative Christmas tour of northern Italy!

Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, O'er the fields we go, Laughing all the way!

3. Sledging excursion

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Dog sledging is a combination of different emotions: not only do you plunge into the snowy landscape at high speed with the feeling of spinning lightly, but you also build up a fantastic relationship of trust with the trained dogs. The sledge becomes a common means of transport that requires having a certain harmony with the animals. In addition, it is a sustainable activity. If you take part in a night-time excursion, the snow-white landscape becomes a natural spotlight, with the moon and stars illuminating the route. In short, it is a unique experience to combine with the magic of Christmas! It may not be exactly as dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, but the effect is the same!

What is dog sledging?

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Dog sledging is a race on snow using sledges pulled by dogs and driven by a musher. In the past, it was the only means of transport used by villages in the Nordic countries to cover short or long distances covered in snow. Today, it has become a popular winter sport in various Nordic regions of the world. Towards the end of the 1980s, dog sledging began to spread to Italy. Some areas in the North started to equip themselves to teach the discipline or make it a snow excursion. People of all ages can learn quickly and practise this activity particularly appreciated by children.

Dog sledging in Italy

There are several facilities where you can learn dog sledging or just book excursions. Most are in the Alps, mainly in Trentino Alto Adige, Piedmont and Lombardy. So, for our first stop, we are spoilt for choice!

2. In Merano, you can relax...

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For the second stage of our Nordic tour, we stop in Merano, a charming city in the Alto Adige region. Known for its abundance of spas and thermal baths, this pretty little town in the province of Bolzano is home to around 40000 inhabitants. Here you can find an unusual peace of mind and relax in one of the many typical wellness centres. If your ideal holiday is lazing around in a fairytale landscape, then you've come to the right place! Relaxation here takes on a whole new flavour, the surrounding landscape is truly enchanting, and the Christmas decorations only make it even more evocative.

...visit the town and...

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After a beautiful day of pampering yourself with massages, saunas and hot water, it is worth going out to admire the beautiful city. Merano is an exquisite and refined urban centre. Surrounded by numerous high peaks, the South Tyrolean city is close to four important valleys: Val Venosta, Val d'Adige, Val Passiria and Val d'Ultimo. The old town is a genuine South Tyrolean pearl. With its medieval arcades and numerous Art Nouveau buildings, it welcomes tourists in a surreal atmosphere. The surrounding landscape takes visitors on pleasant walks, where the snow-capped peaks in the distance, the numerous waterways and the ample green spaces offer a natural backdrop of rare beauty. Finally, do not miss the wonderful Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle: you will be enchanted!

...try active holidays!

By now, you will have fallen in love with the landscape! So why not round off your visit to Merano with a walk through nature? Most of the trails are accessible directly from the city centre and are accessible all year round. However, suppose you would like to combine culture and adventure. In that case, we recommend that you do not miss the most famous theme path in Merano: the Sissi Path, dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. With eleven stages and various viewpoints, this trail connects the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle with the city centre. Each step is associated with a historical anecdote.

Local cuisine

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If you've made it this far, you've earned a dish of delicious canederli, a typical South Tyrolean recipe. Canederli are large dumplings made of stale bread, speck and cheese. Taste this delicious dish either served in broth or sautéed in butter.

1. Longiano nei presepi

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For the third and last step of our tour, we take you to Longiano, a pretty village of Emilia-Romagna in the province of Forlì-Cesena. The Touring Club Italiano awarded this city with the Touring Club's Orange Flag (a recognition of tourist-environmental quality to Italian hinterland small towns that stand out for their excellent offer and quality reception). After fun and relaxation, it's time for a tour of the nativity scenes. For more than thirty years, Longiano has been hosting a path called Longiano nei Presepi (Longiano Through Nativity Scenes).

The event

The Christmas itinerary composed of about forty steps embellishes the town with different representations of the Nativity, some of which are revisited in a contemporary artistic key. The nativity scenes are spread throughout the historical centre so that as well as admiring the magnificent representations, you can also get to know the enchanting Romagna village. Museums, churches, squares, gardens, public places and private homes host the magic of these nativity scenes. Among mechanical, traditional and revisited displays, the fulcrum of the route remains the spectacular Great Mechanical Nativity Scene at the Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix. The event starts on 8 December and ends just one month later. Alongside the route, there is also a rich programme of activities, with concerts, shows, food stands and much more!

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