Delicious food, great shopping opportunities, traditional culture and a welcoming European atmosphere… what better way could there be to prepare for the festive season than to visit some of Italy’s famous Christmas markets? The Christmas Markets in Italy or ‘Mercatino di Natale’ as they are known locally, takeChristmas Market in Bolzano place throughout Italy from late November to early January. Italian Christmas markets are held in many cities, and boast a wonderful, celebratory atmosphere. Elaborate nativity scenes, which form a focal point of many of the markets, are something for visitors to look out for.

One of the most traditional and enticing Christmas markets is to be found in Merano, in South Tyrol, in the very north of Italy. It is perhaps its proximity to its northern neighbors, Switzerland and Austria, that leads this market to feature delicious home-baked goods, often sweetened with cinnamon and spices. Traditional artisan crafts are also popular here. There is truly nothing as magical as meandering around this traditional Italian market whilst admiring the magnificent mountain scenery that surrounds the town.

The city of Naples is situated in the Gulf of the same name, between Vesuvius and the volcanic area of the Phlegraean Fields, in what has been called “one of the most celebrated and enchanting settings in the world “.This natural cove has attracted visitors ever since the first Greek settlers arrived on the island of PithekusaCalleria Umberto I (now called Ischia), subsequently founding the new city of Neapolis.

The sumptuous hidden villas, the sheer drops down to the sea, the ridges that overhang the coast made these the most luxurious places for ancient Romans to holiday and enjoy themselves. In fact, the Romans gave the Neapolitan hill the name of Pausilypon (now called Posillipo), which means a “respite from worry”. At Posillipo it is also possible to admire the Crypta Neapolitana, which contains the Tomb of Virgil.

Città della Pieve is a small village in Umbria, in the province of Perugia. It is very near the border between Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio, and surrounded by some of the most beautiful places of these three regions: the Tuscan cities of Montepulciano and Cetona, Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Lake Bolsena and the city of Viterbo in Lazio.Città della Pieve

Città della Pieve is a medieval village, ringed by fourteenth century walls, featuring beautiful exposed brickwork. It is said to have the narrowest alleyway in Italy, Via Baciadonne, and is famous for being the birthplace of Pietro Vannucci, called Il Perugino, considered to be the highest exponent of Umbrian art in the XV century.

“It was impossible to recreate the places, the smells, the sounds and the flavors of the city in a studio, so the whole movie was filmed on location in the streets and along the canals of Venice”. These are the words of the director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who won an Oscar for “The Lives of Others”.

Three rules of life to learn when you are traveling, in three very different locations: it sounds like the latest trend from one of the more glamorous travel agencies, instead it is “Eat Pray Love”, the movie directed by Ryan Murphy, starring Julia Roberts, recently released in movie theaters all over the world.