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.
Festa dei Klosen, is that Santa Claus?
So you want to tour northern Italy in December, but just arenít sure what to see and what to do. Donít despair; there are lots and lots of special events that simply arenít 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 northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige and work our way east to the border with Slovenia. There are so many things to see and do in northern Italy in December that this is the second of three articles.
Natale di Vetro, Christmas in glass.
Trentino-Alto Adige is our initial stop on this virtual tour. On the first Saturday in December Passo dello Stelvio, the highest paved mountain pass in the eastern Alps, holds its Festa dei Klosen dedicated to Santa Claus. Costumed locals wander the streets until the church bells are rung when everyone unites in prayer. With its geographical and cultural proximity to Germany, Trentino-Alto Adige is a great place for Christmas markets selling beautiful local handicrafts and plenty of kitsch. At night the markets are well lit and often provide other festivities. Some of the best Christmas markets are found in Trento and Bolzano. The Trento market hosts a large Nativity Scene in its lovely Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). Youíll enjoy the Nativity Scene in Tesero. Cortina d'Ampezzo, ďthe Pearl of the DolomitesĒ celebrates Christmas Eve with a skiersí torchlight parade; at midnight hundreds of people ski down the mountain carrying torches.
For approximately one month starting in early December Venice hosts the Natale di Vetro, Christmas in glass on Murano Island. The festival kicks off by honoring San Nicolo the patron saint of glass blowers. Youíll find a glassworks regatta and a glass blowing school including sessions for children, exhibitions, and even a wine tasting by invitation. The town of Bibione on the sea hosts a Living Nativity Scene at the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in December. Trevisoís annual Radicchio Festival is also held in December. You might find the answer to that age-old question: What wine with Radicchio? My offhand answer is an Italian Pinot Grigio. Among the Christmas markets are Campo Santo Stefano in Venice and Verona. Check the dates carefully; these markets may close earlier than you think.
Venice is a fine place to celebrate New Year's Eve, even more so if youíre in love. The choices include expensive restaurants and a public celebration on St Mark's Square that includes music, a giant fireworks display, bellini brindisi (toast), and a huge group kiss at midnight. An estimated 60 thousand people participate in this group kiss and the companion one at in Piazza Ferretto in Mestre, Venice.
Our tour ends in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Its regional capital Trieste hosts a Christmas market, Fiera di San Nicolo, during the first week of December. Many Alpine towns and hamlets celebrate the Krampus festivities during the first two weeks of December. Young men disguised in hideous masks roam the streets and frighten children. Unlike Saint Nicholas who gives gifts to good children, Krampus warns and even punishes the bad children. Traditional Nativity Scenes abound in Friuli. New Yearís Eve festivals include Alessioís Twenty Year Festival, La Koleda in Resia, and Cicigolis (Pulfero). You may prefer celebrating this holiday in Trieste at the seaside Piazza dellíUnita díItalia (Italian Unity Square), the largest seaside plaza in Europe. I canít promise you good weather. 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.
Feel free to reprint this entire article which must include the resource box
December events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in northern Italy