Imagine a little village of beautifully decorated wood stalls, Christmas carols filling the icy air, passage ways crowded with couples holding hands, children darting in and out and spicy aroma permeating the air.
Guess where you are?
You are very likely visiting one of the Christmas markets popping up at the Advent Time all over the North East of Italy: the best known Christmas markets are in Meran and Bolzen but you can really start for a “Christmas village” itinerary through the many towns and cities of the area and discover little jewels such as Levico, Trento, Arco, Cortina and Belluno to name a few.
Christmas market: can you imagine a better place for Italians’ going out?
Where to find an open air area for shopping, eating and chatting with no constrictions?
The Christmas village is the perfect place for families with children who can walk and even run free with no traffic risks and for teenagers who play “hide and seek” with friends and sweethearts.
It also serves as a happy solution for stressed professionals storming out of offices late at night and are looking for that last Christmas gift they completely forgot about. After all auntie Olivia lives far away and who knows why she has untimely decided to visit on this Christmas?
Are you still on the Scrooge side? Not feeling the Christmas atmosphere wrapping you?
Here are 5 reasons why you can’t miss a visit:
1. Most of Christmas markets are populated with local craftsmen showing and selling manufactures meant to make your gifts, your home and table will feature unique masterwork at Christmas time.
You are touching, admiring and buying a unique item a local artisan designed and handcrafted for you… or somebody like you.
You are supporting local economy and minimizing traffic pollution.
2. Christmas villages are going green: the new trend is to have a “Green Event” certificate.
More and more villages have low environment impact:
local wood for stalls (no exotic wood used for the little huts)
cut wood is compensated by other wood seeding
recycling is a must
South Tyrol Christmas markets are leading the way: the 1,000 Christmas trees adorning the market areas come exclusively from the territory.
South Tyrol has been increasing the green heritage seeding new plants over the last years so the cutting is not leaving a swath area rather a greener one.
Basic requirements for a Christmas market to submit application for a green certificate are:
Brag to your friends that while shopping for their presents you saved the planet!
3. You and your loved ones will be offered typical Christmas food we are no longer or have never been familiar with: Zelten, Vanillekipferln, Lebkuchen, Spitzbuben etc. Never heard of them? You do not need to.
Make sure you taste them and you won’t forget them anymore.
And shall we mention a cup of hot spicy wine, the so called vin brulé, both warming you and inducing you to a dreamlike sensation: watching Santa Cloud and his elves walking over will look absolutely consistent with your present reality!
4. Activities and events occur all through the weeks preceding Christmas.
Some events are unique occasions to watch artisans performing long lost activities and learn new abilities.
At Bruneck, you can learn how to create an “iron wire” angel to decorate your home, cook a Zelten cake, prepare bread and even attend the show about the multiple sophisticated steps to have the original Tyrol “speck”.
5. And finally, rather than being rushed into Christmas atmosphere on the very Christmas day, you will softly and gradually eased into Christmas Advent Time holding your hot tea cup (vin brulé works as well).
I can see you are already packing your things up and wishing to spend more than just half a day in this fairyland atmosphere.
The child-inside you is longing to meet Santa Claus or attend the “Krampus” parade, isn’t he?
Pick one of the many hotels and resorts of the area which have turned to the green philosophy such as Hotel Pergola or Residence Esserhof.
Nothing more lovely than wake up, have your room window wide open and inhale the reinvigoration air from the Dolomites before starting your “Christmas market” day out.