Bolzano is the queen of Christmas: and its market is the most irresistible
Everything is “made in South Tyrol”
The most eagerly awaited Christmas market of the season opens with the switch-on of the tree at Walther Square.
From the second half of November until 6 January, the South Tyrolean city is dressed in lights, colours and sounds that invite you to wander among the stalls set up both in the Christmas Park, near the railway station, and in the old town centre.
Everything on display in the market must be produced or processed in South Tyrol: decorations, knick-knacks or statues for the nativity scene, felt slippers, woollen socks or jackets, schnapps, beers or apple juice, herbal or hay soaps, gastronomic specialities from the mountain farms, are offered by craftsmen from the province.
There is also a charity market, the proceeds of which are donated to organisations working in the social sector. Between one stand and another, you can warm yourself up with hot tea, mulled wine or the wines of the valley served in the Wine Lounge, accompanied by pancakes, pretzels or fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate.
Children can ice-skate on the large ice rink set up in the Town Hall Square, while there is a merry-go-round and an electric train in Walther Square. Be careful: around 8 December, the market is invaded by the Krampus, the wild hobgoblins who improvise shows and tricks in the most unpredictable places!
There is no better time to visit Bolzano: during the Christmas market, there are guided tours of the old town centre and the Bolzano archaeological museum, which houses Ötzi, the mummy of the Similaun, the body of a man who lived more than 5,000 years ago, found in the glaciers of South Tyrol in 1991.
A green event
For its use of regional and environmentally friendly products, effective waste management, energy-saving and sustainable mobility initiatives, the sale of water in glass bottles, and the printing of brochures on recycled paper, the Bolzano market has obtained the Green Event certification.
This award recognises the commitment of the city of Bolzano, which has been working on sustainability protocols with the South Tyrolean Eco-Institute since 2014 to ensure that the event has an ever-reduced ecological footprint. The market organisation encourages people to travel to Bolzano by train instead of by car.
On the South Tyrolean Wine Roads
If you have been captivated by the Bolzano market atmosphere, you can move on to discover the small markets around the capital along the South Tyrolean wine route.
In the wine centres, during the Wine and Advent initiative, you will find the open doors of dozens of wine cellars that offer tastings and guided tours. You will be able to visit small family-run wineries with an intimate atmosphere, as well as large entrepreneurial businesses, all united by their passion for their territory.
And you can also discover ancient rituals that still take place in the small towns of the valley, such as the Klöckel in Sarentino (on Advent Thursdays), when groups of men with masks and musical instruments roam from house to house looking for presents, a ritual that probably has its roots in a pre-Christian world.
Advent and Christmas on the Ritten with the Trenatale
From the centre of Bolzano, a cable car takes 12 minutes to Soprabolzano (1,200 m), where visitors can enjoy other weekend markets in the magnificent scenery of the Renon plateau, which is a balcony over some of the most spectacular peaks of the Dolomites, from the Alpe di Siusi to the Sciliar and from the Catinaccio to the Latemar.
In Soprabolzano, the market is called Trenatale because the wooden stands are shaped like train carriages (with “treno” meaning “train”). From Soprabolzano, you can continue by rack railway to the village of Collalbo, where you can wander amidst other stalls and watch concerts of Christmas carols, fairy tale readings or let yourself be transported by carriage through the snowy landscape.
For more information: www.mercatinodinatalebz.it