In the little wooden houses at Christmas markets are many perfect gift ideas to put under the tree, but also exceptional gastronomic products. Here are the must-visit ones in Tuscany.

The magical Advent atmosphere, with colourful holly jolly lights and delicacies of all kinds, in the most classic Northern European tradition of iconic Christmas markets. A symbol of the holiday season throughout Northern Europe, Christmas-themed villages are also present in Italy, and represent a perfect opportunity to find suitable gifts and indulge in some tasty treats. They are found in the big cities, of course, but also in smaller villages, from north to south of the Italian peninsula: here are the most beautiful ones in Tuscany.

Christmas markets in Florence: Santa Croce, Emergency, Croce Rossa, Christmas Bazaar

As in all bigger cities, in Florence there are several meeting points designed to celebrate Christmas with good food. Among the most characteristic is the Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce, with wooden houses open until the Epiphany (January 6th), which sell pretzels, apple strudel, hot wine and handicrafts. Then there is the Spazio Natale Emergency, this year in via dei Ginori, 14, with the volunteers of the association who will donate the proceeds to the Emergency hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Another must event takes place in Piazza Bartali, in addition to the one promoted by the Florence Red Cross, which is committed to raising funds for the most needy families of the city inside Palazzo Capponi. Furthermore, the Christmas Bazaar of the Ailo association – The American International League of Florence ODV––an American market to find US specialties, like brownies and muffins. New this year is also the Christmas market at the Ostello Tasso created by the Woman in Charge of Florence association, happening only on the first weekend of December, with aperitif on Saturday 7 at 6.30 pm.

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Christmas markets in Arezzo: Tyrolean Village

Open from November 16th (and until December 26th), the market in Piazza Grande in Arezzo is a true Tyrolean village that offers traditional beers and desserts, stalls with decorations and handicrafts and a series of themed events and shows. There are also dinners in mountain chalets, guided tours in the historic centre of Arezzo, cocktails and many typical Tyrolean products: it will be possible to taste strauben, sweet snail-shaped pancakes, and kaiserschmarrn, a sort of original sweet omelette of Austria, hot chocolate and apple cider.

mercatodinatalearezzo.it/il-mercato/

Christmas markets in Montepulciano: Sant’s Castle

Christmas decorations, clothes, but above all many sweets and local products: at the Castello di Babbo Natale market in Montepulciano, in via San Donato, one can find gift items and original food specialties, thanks to the participation of artisans and local associations. In the village, 80 wooden houses sell different and handmade products, play atmospheric music, schedule shows and entertainment for the little ones.

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Christmas markets in Forte dei Marmi: Fiera di Natale

Always appreciated as a summer resort destination, Forte dei Marmi offers pleasant surprises even in winter, with the characteristic Fiera di Natale this year in its seventh edition. Designing activities is the Utinam Association, engaged in the organization of cultural, sporting and tourist events. Taking place in Piazza Garibaldi amd involving adjacent streets, the event hosts artisans and producers from the area, who throughout the month will offer their creations immersed in a lively and convivial atmosphere.

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Christmas markets in Siena: Mercato nel Campo

Of course the suggestive Piazza del Campo welcomes producers and visitors during the first weekend of December in Siena, with a small market entirely dedicated to craft products. Ceramics, terracotta vases, but also typical Tuscan food products, without forgetting a series of cooking shows designed to engage the public and give a practical demonstration of local preparations. Among must taste specialties at the Mercato nel Campo, the ricciarelli, the panforte and then all those with the Dop brand, such as the Cinta Senese, the Tuscan pecorino or the saffron of San Gimignano.

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Christmas markets in Pisa: Fabbrica di Babbo Natale and the spazio Emergency

In Pisa is also a market located under the Logge dei Banchi, at the entrance of the Ponte di Mezzo, which in December transforms into a meeting point with music, shows and lots of street food. The heart of the event is the Fabbrica di Babbo Natale, a space designed for children with games and workshops. But not only: in the city there is also the Emergency market in Via San Martino, 69, which will donate the amount raised during the holidays to the hospitals.

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Christmas markets in Lucca: Fashion in Flair for Christmas

Edition number 5 for the Fashion in Flair for Christmas, Lucca’s Christmas market at the Real Collegio, historic building in the heart of the city, which for the occasion will be fully decorated like a true Christmas village. In addition to unique pieces, wooden crafts and home decorations, there will be no lack of local food and wine specialties..

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Christmas markets in Montecatini Terme: Città del Natale

The Christmas market of Montecatini could only take place in a spa establishment: that is at the “La Salute” thermal baths, housing Santa’s House, a wooden hut entirely dedicated to the world of chocolate. Thanks to an expert-led laboratory, at Città del Natale young and old will learn about chocolate’s supply chain, from the cocoa bean to the final tablet, as well as preparing a chocolate creations together with the masters. Then there are the tasting stalls and sales points with gadgets and local crafts.

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by Michela Becchi