Where to go on holiday in December in Italy? From north to south amidst Christmas markets, ancient villages and breathtaking views, let's find out!
December is the month that opens the door to the Christmas season, one of the most beautiful times of the year to spend in Italy due to its wide variety of offerings from north to south, including Christmas markets and lights, visits to ancient villages and medieval castles, and of course the sunny landscapes and crystal-clear waters of southern Italy.The weather becomes typically wintry, it is cold in almost all cities and on the highest peaks snow begins to fall, a key element for many typical holidays in the mountains or in the far north of the peninsula. The snow-covered landscapes offer romantic views perfect for framing in a photo, for sports enthusiasts the skiing and snowboarding season begins, and for those who love Christmas, many typical Christmas markets are set up with lights, decorations, shows for children and typical seasonal dishes.
In short, December is a really good month to go on holiday, a little more expensive because of the festivities but definitely worth it. This is Italian beauty: let's discover together where to go on holiday in December in Italy.
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy
December is the month that closes the doors of the current year and opens those of the coming year, and it does so with a lot of creativity and recreational offerings, making it a perfect month to travel. It may be more expensive to travel during the days of the Christmas holidays, but if you book well in advance and take advantage of the downtime, it really is perfect for a holiday!
In almost all regions of Italy, December wears red and adorns the cities with lights, making it a festive month. The Immacolata bridge and Christmas holidays are a perfect time to travel even if more expensive, so we recommend travelling, where possible, on the weekends before or after Christmas, which are much cheaper but equally special.
Do you like Christmas? Do you love Christmas lights and markets? Do you just can't wait for the snow? Good, because Italy is perfect for such a holiday. Wait... looking for more? Then the cities of art are for you or why not a getaway by the sea, perfect all year round.
Let's find out where to go on holiday in December in Italy: 11 unmissable destinations!
11. Catania: between sea and fire
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Catania
Catania is a land to love, the meeting point between the fire of the volcano Etna and the sea that bathes its shores. This magnificent city is home to one of the highest volcanoes in Europe and this makes it a popular tourist destination because one can, every day, make excursions to Mount Etna both by day and by night to peer at the Sicilian sunrise on the horizon.
At 3,357 metres, the magmatic giant offers sensational spectacles to tourists every day, but especially in winter it becomes a perfect winter tourist destination because it fills up with snow and allows skiers to ski thanks to the presence of several ski slopes. Imagine skiing while looking at the sea on the horizon... what a spectacle it is!
The city is perfect to visit all year round because while there is snow on Mount Etna, the climate in the city is always mild, which allows you to visit it entirely and enjoy it to the full. Where to start? From Piazza del Duomo, of course, where you will find the splendid Cathedral of Catania and in the centre of the square the famous obelisk with the elephant fountain, symbol of the city since 1239.
Another important monument is the one to Vincenzo Bellini, the famous composer, located in Piazza Bellini, which is not far from Villa Bellini, a large green lung that offers shelter on hot, sunny days and spaces where one can stroll away from the chaos and pollution of the city.
Whether it is day or night, you cannot miss a stroll along the very long Via Etnea, Catania's shopping street, almost entirely pedestrianised along which you can find clothes shops, bars, restaurants and local businesses where you can sample some of the Sicilian delicacies from cannoli to arancini. In short, in Catania you certainly never get bored!
So where to go on holiday in December in Italy? The alternatives are many and we hope we have cleared up any doubts or given advice on your next winter holiday. Enjoy your trip!
10. The spell of Limatola Castle
About an hour from Naples is the town of Limatola, an ancient hilltop village in the province of Benevento. In Limatola is the famous Limatola Castle that towers above the medieval village. The castle was built by the Normans on what were the remains of an ancient Longobard tower.
Its strategic position made it a bastion of defence and observation, and even today the castle encloses a veritable miniature village. Not only can it be visited, but during the Christmas period it is at its most splendid.
Every year from mid-November until mid-December, the famous Cadeuax al Castello takes place. The entire area of the castle is transformed into a giant Christmas village with food and wine stands, gift stands, perfumes, sweets and many live performances for young and old.
There are the famous pipers who will sing the notes of "Tu scendi dalle stelle" (You come down from the stars) while sipping a Mulled Wine and eating hot chestnuts. A perfect place to soak up the Christmas atmosphere and why not also make some presents.
Limatola is a really good idea if you don't know where to go on holiday in December in Italy.
9. The artist lights of Salerno
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Salerno
Salerno, along with Naples, is one of the great port cities of Campania, and like Naples it is a very large city that offers much to its citizens and to the tourists who visit the city. Salerno is a maritime city just a stone's throw from the Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Coast, with splendid views, hidden coves and a sky-blue sea, it welcomes more and more tourists every year. After all, who does not dream of a holiday on the coast in Amalfi, Positano or Sorrento? One feels a bit like a character in an advertisement or a film.
Apart from being a port and maritime city, however, Salerno welcomes thousands of visitors every year during the Christmas period thanks to its illuminations. The so-called Luci d'artista (artist lights) that are displayed throughout the city make it an enchanted place with lights that play together to form beautiful choreographies and magical sceneries.
Every year from mid-November until mid-January, the lights in Salerno will be switched on, kicking off the countdown to Christmas. The lights are made by international artists from all over the world who create true works of art. This is a more unique than rare opportunity to enjoy the city as you have never seen it in the company of friends and family.
8. Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Naples
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Naples
Campania is a perfect region for a winter holiday in December due to its versatility offering leisure, entertainment, culture and good food all wrapped up together and let's not forget Christmas because it is special here too. Naples is the perfect candidate for a rich and cheap trip because life is not expensive compared to the artistic and cultural scene it offers.
So what to see? A walk along the seafront promenade in front of the Castel dell'Ovo to the Chalets near Posillipo on one side or Piazza del Plebiscito in the opposite direction. From the main square where the Royal Palace stands, testimony to the Bourbon reign on Neapolitan soil, you can reach the dense web of streets of the decumani that make up the city centre, from Via Toledo to Corso Umberto to Piazza Bellini.
It is December and Christmas in Naples has a special flavour, so it is mandatory to go to the famous street of the shepherds, San Gregorio Armeno, because there the nativity scene is alive and the citizens become shepherds. There is a magical air of common sense, family, benevolence, generosity and good taste, especially good taste because a nice pizza in the historic centre is not to be missed. And the Christmas lights? Everywhere throughout the city, in Piazza dei Martiri, on the seafront, in Piazza del Plebiscito, in the Vomero district.
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7. The village of Pescocostanzo
Where to go on vacation in December in Italy: Pescocostanzo
Pescocostanzo is a wonderful mountain village that belongs to the club of the "most beautiful villages in Italy". Situated within the Maiella Park in the province of L'Aquila, it is located at an altitude of about 1395 meters and is a well-known ski destination-in fact, it has its own ski resort, making it a perfect winter destination for lovers of snow and cold weather.
Pescocostanzo is located on the slopes of Mount Calvario and is part of the Alto Sangro community, a perfect place to plan a vacation of relaxation, sports and nature. It is one of the very few villages still untouched by the bombings of World War II, original in every way, its historic center is characterized by streets made of cobblestones, old mansions and churches, all adorned with medieval charm thanks to the old craft stores that still make everything by hand: from goldsmith stores to ironworking.
A special visit deserves the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria del Colle where Masses and Christian anniversaries are still regularly celebrated. The staircase leading up to the Basilica was also featured in a film "Straziami ma di baci saziami" by Dino Risi with movie greats in the cast such as Nino Manfredi and Ugo Tognazzi.
Nature and adventure enthusiasts cannot miss a walk to the famous Boschetto di Sant'Antonio, long considered a fairy-tale place somewhat like the forests recounted in Disney films.
Where to go on vacation in December in Italy, but more importantly, where to go skiing in December in Italy? In Pescocostanzo you can thanks to the Vallefuta ski resort that includes 8.7 km total divided into 9 slopes, 2-seater and 4-seater chairlifts and ski lifts. In addition, thanks to its extreme proximity to its sister resort Roccaraso, Pescocostanzo makes it possible to reach the Aremogna ski lifts, considered among the best in the entire Abruzzo region, in just a few minutes.
6. Sulmona, the city of art of Ovid and confetti
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Sulmona
The city of Sulmona is a true jewel set in the mountains of Abruzzo, rich in history, culture, tradition and passion. All year round it is alive like few cities in any season, but one thing must be said, during the winter period it becomes even more beautiful, the first snowflakes fall, the city fills up with tourists and the municipality organises event after event, creating a busy agenda suitable for every occasion. In short, if you do not know where to go on holiday in December in Italy, you will certainly not be bored in Sulmona.
Sulmona is known to many for being the city that gave birth to the great Roman poet Publius Ovid, and in the Middle Ages Frederick ll established the seat of the Abruzzi judiciary there. From a historical point of view, it is a city that has been decorated for military valour and was awarded a silver medal thanks to the battles for liberation from foreign domination during World War II.
What to do in Sulmona? First of all, a walk through the old town centre, left as it has been for centuries, original, natural, unique, exuding history and tradition. Among the places not to be missed are the Badia Morronese Abbey, the Cathedral of San Panfilo and the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, a monumental complex that leaves one speechless, it is among the most majestic works in the entire city, bringing together different architectural styles from different eras such as the Renaissance, Baroque and the Middle Ages.
The city centre is at Piazza XX Settembre where the beautiful statue of the illustrious citizen Ovid is located. In Piazza Garibaldi, also a market area, is the ancient Fountain of the Elder whose water is refreshing and thirst quenching like few others, try it to believe it. The star of Piazza Garibaldi is Sulmona's famous Swabian aqueduct, which dates back to the 13th century.
Yes, but let's talk about food... Well we can't not mention confetti, Sulmona is known worldwide for them too. They are produced in every imaginable taste, in every colour and shape, and are used to create true works of art, bouquets and various compositions. A welcome gift for sure.
5. Arezzo and the magic of Christmas
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Arezzo
The city of Arezzo, in Tuscany, is well known to many for its classic Christmas markets that from the end of November until January turn it into the city of Christmas with many attractions and a packed calendar of events. Markets, light shows, a merry-go-round with horses, many typical wooden houses, events for young and old, and a large Ferris wheel to watch the city from above in all its splendour.
During the Christmas period, the Piazza Grande hosts the classic Tyrolean village with exhibitors from Germany, Austria, Tyrol, of course, and Italy, with displays of typical handicrafts from textiles to ceramics, to nativity scenes. Those who want to have fun can do so on the beautiful ice skating rink that is set up in the Lawn area.
The Gallery of Contemporary Art houses the Lego Brick House Art Museum, one of the largest Lego exhibitions in the world with reproductions of quarters known to history such as Munch's The Scream, Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Botticelli's The Spring, but also reproductions of the Titanic, about 2 metres high, and the Lord of the Rings' white city Minas Tirith.
A holiday is always a good idea, it is the adventures that give us memories to treasure forever. If you still do not know where to go on holiday in December in Italy, Tuscany is definitely a good idea and if you like Christmas choose Arezzo because it is special!
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Florence
Lovers of art cities cannot fail to have visited the cradle of the Renaissance at least once in their lives: Florence. The Tuscan capital is one of the most visited cities in Italy every year, welcoming hundreds of thousands of tourists thanks to its history, culture, tradition and, of course, its delicious cuisine.
It happens to everyone sooner or later to ask "but where are we going on holiday?", perhaps in view of a festive period, a bridge or a weekend. The answer is simple: if you do not know where to go on holiday in December in Italy Visit Italy recommends Tuscany.
Enjoy your experience in Tuscany to the full thanks to the Firenze Pass that gives you discounts and concessions, a key to access the city. Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery and Brunelleschi's Dome, all in one ticket!
Where to start? From Piazza della Signoria of course, the historical and political centre of the city and Palazzo Vecchio, which dominates the area in all its majesty. Here we also find two statues as impressive as Michelangelo's David and Ammannati's Neptune. The tour continues to the Uffizi Gallery, whose vastness and the works collected inside make it one of the most important museums in the world. A visit to Brunelleschi's Dome or Giotto's Bell Tower, which offer an exceptional and unique panorama of the city seen from above, is unavoidable and recommended.
We continue towards the Duomo of Florence located right in Piazza del Duomo but first a stop in the Florence market area, a traditional, original, ancient, authentic place, unique in its uniqueness where you can taste a local gastronomic speciality: lampredotto, a sandwich stuffed with cow's stomach cooked in a docile and slow way or, for the more stomach-challenged, the classic schiacciata!
3. The magical Lake Braies
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Snow-covered Lake Braies
Can you ever miss a visit to Lake Braies? Even here, there is no shortage of magic. Over the years, the lake has become a tourist destination of excellence because just looking at it makes you fall in love, it doesn't even seem to be in Italy. Definitely one of those places to visit if you don't know where to go on holiday in December in Italy.
In winter, the lake freezes over and it is at this time that you can take advantage of an excursion on the banks of the frozen lake surrounded by snow on a horse-drawn sleigh, all while sipping a warm Vin Brulè! What are you waiting for? If you still don't know where to go on holiday in December in Italy, visit Trentino!
2. Merano: the pearl of South Tyrol
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Merano
As well as Bolzano, the city of Merano deserves a mention, described by many as the pearl of South Tyrol. The lifestyle of this city sees the fusion of two traditions and two languages: Italian and German. What is there to do in this beautiful city of 40,000 inhabitants? The walk along the Passirio River, which divides the historic centre from the other districts.
For those who love to relax and want to take a break, Merano offers access to its spa centre, a true oasis of well-being with heated indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools and large green gardens for sunbathing. What more do you want from life?
Let's not forget Christmas... because here in Merano Christmas is really special! During the Christmas period, the city is festively coloured with typical Christmas colours, red, white and lights create a magical atmosphere, and the snow, the real snow, creates fairy-tale landscapes. The markets, which usually take place along the Passirio, are a must for anyone visiting the city of Merano in December: hot drinks, roasted chestnuts, typical Tyrolean dishes, freshly baked warm sweets, in short, the real magic of Christmas.
Yes, but when? Generally, the markets start around mid-November and last until Epiphany from first light until 10.30 p.m. on weekends. Remember that there is also a direct train connection from Bolzano to Merano, if you want to stay there but still visit the Merano markets, or you can conveniently take a bus.
Where to go on holiday in December in Italy: Bolzano
Trentino Alto Adige is the northernmost Italian region and is predominantly mountainous. Its territories offer breathtaking views surrounded by nature suitable for everyone. Those who choose Trentino choose a relaxing holiday in contact with nature, but do not renounce sporting or adventurous activities. Whether couples, singles, senior citizens or families, Trentino is suitable for everyone. Bolzano and Merano are just some of the towns to visit in this wonderful region between the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, the Puez-Odle Nature Park and the ski resorts of the Dolomites. Not sure where to go on holiday in December in Italy? Choose Trentino!
Bolzano is an oil painting framed between the peaks of the Dolomites. It is a land of wineries, villages and castles, but above all of green nature: mountains, rivers, hills, and walks to be enjoyed on foot or by bike, one of which is the Water Trail. This is a route with a double itinerary that connects various fountains, drinking fountains and ancient irrigation ditches scattered along the city centre.
One cannot fail to mention the market at Piazza delle Erbe, a typical Tyrolean market and one of the most beautiful flower markets in Italy and Europe. The walk continues with the strong smell of hot roasted chestnuts being baked by the roasters along the street while the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites rise in the distance.