Borgo di Babbo Natale November 29 – December 13): Are you traveling with young kids ? Don’t miss out the opportunity to experience all the magic of Christmas at Ricetto di Candelo, province of Biella. Every year this stunning medieval village in Piedmont turns its town center into a fairy tale setting where kids can meet and greet with Santa and, most of all, they can drop off their letters at Santa’s Post Office. Artisans, musicians and local wood workers will entertain the grown ups showcasing their artifacts and performing traditional Christmas carols. Make sure you stop by the fair for lunch or dinner: the veal stew and the roasted herbed goose are a must try when in the area and beloved holiday delicacies.
Big Deal (every Sunday from November 29 to December 20): Crazy about shopping but bored with the same old chain stores and shopping malls? If you are traveling in the Rome area in December, check out Big Deal, an open air flea market that will surely satisfy even the most jaded shopper. Around the beautiful streets and piazzas of downtown Rome you will find, literally, a bit of everything: from handmade crochet doilies to design clothes, from ancient paintings to old comic books, from used books to vinyl records and much, much more. The ideal place to find some pretty unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones.
Christmas Beer Festival (December 4 – 6): beer lovers should definitely check out this festival celebrating all things beer and Christmas related in Imbersago, province of Lecco. For three whole days the festival will showcase special edition draft and bottled beers coming from several European countries and, of course, from Italian micro breweries. Food too will be plenty and good: the traditional pork shank braised in beer is a local specialties, served with sauerkraut and French fries – the ideal dish to keep warm even on a cold December night.
Superzampone (December 6 – 7): the zampone di Modena is an Italian favorite when it comes to Christmas and New Year’s traditional dishes. A delicious fresh sausage made of pork, fatback and pork rind, it is said to date back to 1511, when the inhabitants of the town of Gavello, while under siege, had to find a way to preserve meat and use the pork’s less tender cuts. Since 1991, the town of Castelnuovo Rangone, province of Modena, detains the record for producing each year the biggest zampone in the world: a “monster” of 942 kilos – that’s more than 2000 pounds! Needless to say, on December 6th and 7th there will be plenty to eat (and drink) in this quaint little town in Emilia Romagna…
Fiera di Santa Lucia (December 10 – 13): Did you know that there are some towns in Italy where kids look forward to the night of Saint Lucia instead of Christmas morning? Beautiful Verona, along with most of Sicily, is one of those places where little ones receive their gifts from Santa Lucia on the night of December 12th. The Saint is said to arrive each year riding her donkey, handing out sweets to those who have been good and coal to those who have been naughty. For three days, central piazza Brà in Verona will celebrate this ancient tradition with local specialties such as frittelle, a sort of funnel cake, hot mulled wine and nougat. Don’t miss the nativity scene exposition held
in the nearby Roman Amphitheatre.
Festa della zeppola (December 28 – 29): If you are still hungry after Christmas lunch and dinners, head down to Positano, the quaint coastal gem of the Amalfi Coast, and take part in the traditional Festa della Zeppola, a street festival entirely dedicated to one of the most beloved sweet specialties in the area. The smell of zeppole wafting through the air in Spiaggia Grande will welcome you as local pastry chefs will compete in a series of culinary challenges that will make your mouth water. Of course, once the competition is over, the fried pastries will be ready to be enjoyed by visitors along with good local wine.