Christmas in Italy's most beautiful villages: don't miss these attractions

Italy boasts countless attractions and events at Christmas and there are many places where illuminations, colours and magic can be experienced during the festive season. At Christmas, the streets, alleys and courtyards of villages come to life with the music of bands, choirs and bagpipes, superb local produce, the enjoyment and curiosities of local markets. Christmas is love, family, tradition and culture, especially when it is enjoyed to some of the most beautiful villages in Italy. 

Candelo: Santa Claus Village - Piedmont

Christmas market in Candelo - Piedmont. Photo by: Marco Fine /

The colourful lights, the Candelo Band with bagpipes, a large tree decorated for the festive season, the stalls of local artisans and the traditional, typical produce of Piedmont all await you if you decide to visit the Santa Claus village in one of the most beautiful Mediaeval villages in Italy. Candelo celebrates the miracle of Christmas throughout the holiday period, ensuring joy and excitement for young and old alike. Ricetto is a "must visit" with its magnificent seasonal decorations and lights, as well as the wonderful panoramic view over the entire area of the Biella Pre-Alps. Younger children will love the Post Office of Santa Claus and his elves, where they can post their letters with Christmas wishes

Gradara: The Christmas Castle - Marche

Christmas in Gradara - Marche

Discovering Gradara during the festive season is an experience no one should miss! At Christmas, the alleys of Gradara are decorated with evocative decorations and lights to welcome and astonish visitors. Don't miss the guided walk of discover around the fortified village, with its alleys and castle, renowned as one of best-preserved Mediaeval structures in Italy and home to the story of Paolo and Francesca as narrated by Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, d'Annunzio and Silvio Pellico. During the festive season, the local "trattorie" and "osterie" propose local menus prepared with typical and traditional products and recipes of the Marches Region, while kids are always thrilled to discover the house of Santa Claus

Greccio: The Living Nativity Scene - Lazio

The Living Nativity Scene of Greccio - Lazio. Photo: courtesy of the Comune and the Pro loco di Greccio

Close your eyes and imagine living for a moment the thrill of witnessing the birth of the Saviour: around you, there are the shepherds, the Three Wise Men, the ox and the donkey, an empty cradle, the Mary Joseph, the soft lights of the warm fire and the feeling of being surrounded by a mystical air of expectation

Know what we mean? Sure - you are in Greccio experiencing the emotion of the Living Nativity Scene! Every year, this magnificent Medieval village near the Franciscan Sanctuary sets up a Living Nativity Scene with a magnificent stage-setting to narrate the birth of Baby Jesus in ancient Bethlehem. Broadcast on TV worldwide, it is a unique and unmissable event that will take your breath away.

Villalago: The Underwater Nativity Scene - Abruzzo

Lake of San Domenico - Abruzzo

A unique event which takes place underwater and involves divers from all over Italy. Incredible, right? Torches, flickering candles and fireworks illuminate the Lake of San Domenico where, on the night of 26 December after sunset, an exciting procession led by divers begins. The task is to carry six ceramic statues to the bottom of the lake depicting Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the ox and the donkey. It is a truly evocative spectacle: the statues symbolizing Christmas float on the surface of the water on special rafts at night before magically disappearing into the depths of the lake. A very rare event that you should not miss if you happen to pass through Abruzzo during the Christmas holidays.

Erice: EricèNatale, the village of Nativity Scenes - Sicily

Night view of Erice - Sicily

Nativity scenes, bagpipers, concerts and markets! If you love Christmas and look forward impatiently to this time of year, you can't miss the Village of Nativity Scenes - an incomparable opportunity to experience the thrill of Christmas in all its magic. Nativity scenes are set up everywhere in Erice: in the churches, the alleys of the village and shop windows. Monumental, traditional, baroque, modern or with ceramic figures, they are the main decoration giving the village a truly evocative and magical atmosphere. Set in a truly fairy tale atmosphere with elves, decorations and lights, as well as also local produce, performances, exhibitions, artisan markets and concerts, this event ensures joy, charm and entertainment.

Poffabro: A Nativity Scene among Nativity Scenes - Friuli Venezia Giulia

A Nativity Scene in Poffabro - Friuli Venezia Giulia. Photo by: ProLocoValColvera - Alice Santoro

More than one hundred Nativity scenes hand made by assembling materials of different kinds and innovative techniques. Out of the ordinary? Poffabro at Christmas becomes an open-air Nativity scene and attracts large numbers of visitors. A Nativity Scene among Nativity Scenes came about almost by chance and today welcomes the creativity of artists, hobby enthusiasts or simply people who love Christmas, displaying Nativity scenes on their window sills or in the streets and courtyards of the village. In wood, stone, porcelain, chocolate, straw or other innovative materials, the nativity scenes in Poffabro ensure a magical atmosphere made all the more stunning by the floral decorations along the alleys and the colourful stalls selling confectionery and local produce. A very unusual experience should you decide to spend Christmas in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

You may be interested in: