Don't think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, at any time of year. Off-season Italian holidays have several advantages: You won't fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find. Whatever time of year you go, every region has its own special festivals. Plan your Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
So you are thinking of visiting central Italy in December, but you’re not sure what to see and what to do. Don’t despair; there are lots and lots of special events that simply aren’t available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; December is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in the Tuscany on the western coast and then head east to the landlocked region of Umbria. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in December that this is the first of two articles.
Florence Noel starts at the end of November and runs through the first week of December. This family event includes children's activities such as visiting Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Everyone will enjoy the chocolate, food, music, and nativity village. You’ll find Tuscan Christmas markets in Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce with a German touch, Siena, Lucca’s Piazza San Michele, Arezzo, Montepulciano, and Pisa. Barga, a beautiful medieval hill town in northern Tuscany, holds a living nativity and Christmas pageant on December 23. Abbadia di San Salvatore, near Montalcino, celebrates the Fiaccole di Natale (Festival of Christmas Torches) on Christmas Eve with caroling and torchlight processions.
Perugia is the capital and largest city in Umbria. Its Christmas market starts in early December and runs for about a month. Thus market includes crafts, movies, music, family shows and food. The Soul Christmas festival of gospel music starts a few days later in the theaters and churches of Lake Trasimeno. Mount Ingino, perched above the small town of Gubbio, Umbria, boasts a huge Christmas tree, the tallest in the world with some 500 lights. It’s about half a mile (800 meters) high and the star on top can be seen for almost 30 miles (50 kilometers.) The tree is lit on 7 December, the evening before the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
You may want to spend Christmas in Assisi, the home of Italy’s patron saint, Francis of Assisi. Umbrian nativity scenes and holiday concerts abound; the list of towns and villages is too long to reproduce here. Città di Castello celebrates Christmas Eve on the Tiber River. Several canoeists, each dressed as Father Christmas, wend their lighted canoes to the Porta San Florido Bridge where a crib is suspended over the water. They exit their canoes and give small presents to the children.
For several days starting in late, late December Orvieto is the site of the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival. There are concerts from noon until late at night in several locations including the Fourteenth Century Palazzo Soliano. Don’t miss the New Year's Eve feast or, for a change of pace, the New Year's Day gospel concert held in the magnificent Cathedral. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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December events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in central Italy