Some of our richest travel memories are from this time of year, when there’s a chill in the air and everyone feels a palpable sense of anticipation. Our minds can’t help but to wander to Italy. It's always one of the most beautiful places in the world, but even more so in December. Dressed to impress at Christmas time, twinkling lights are strung across winding streets and twirled around church columns. Evergreen garlands diffuse their fragrant perfume into the crisp air. It is, for us, the most magical place to experience the most wonderful time of the year.
Part of this magic is the fleeting Christmas markets that come only once a year. Rows of stalls with treasures and trinkets suddenly appear a few weeks before Natale and then seem to miraculously disappear by the time the last gift is unwrapped. Some of our favorite markets are in Verona, a charming city in the north whose stalls take on a decidedly German appearance. Intricate carved clocks, delicate wooden ornaments, and rows of carpentry are displayed next to warm spirals of strüdel stuffed with apples, cinnamon, and raisins.
There’s something for everyone on your list: soft thick blankets wIth a cloud-light weave, beautiful handmade wreaths woven from lavender and other herbs, gorgeous bowls carved from olive wood, artisan candies, decadent oils, cheeses....the list goes on and on! Further south, the bustling markets of Rome feature completely different wares. The largest is in Piazza Navona, once the site of a gigantic stadium in ancient times. Every year around Christmas, crowded stalls sell a wide array of goods, including handmade, glass-blown ornaments imported from Venice and crèches with Magi made out of marzipan.
We can't recommend it enough as a destination. Savor the pungent smell of roasting chestnuts, the stickiness of the sweet torrone (a delicacy made with honey and sugar), and warm up with a steaming mug of cioccolata calda. No matter what your age, Christmastime in Italy always leaves a lasting impression.
Do you have memories that you'd like to share with us? Click here and be a Passenger of this Minivan.