Christmas markets are a holiday gathering place for Europeans, especially those with German heritage. The two key ingredients for a good market are a large church and piazza. The normally empty piazza is where booths are set up to display ornaments, local delicacies, and most importantly ‘Vin Brule’ or ‘Gluwein’. Christmas Market – Bolzano, Italy
Walther Platz (Piazza Walther) in Bolzano plays host to the most expansive Christmas market in the region and perhaps the most visited in all of Italy. By day, local vendors exhibit hand crafted ornaments and hand carved wooden sculptures. There is plenty activity for the entire family with a carousel, mini train rides, and dwarf ponies.
A Pleasure For the Senses
A stroll through the market is filled with the tastes and scents of Italy. Sample a variety a South Tyrolean wines, cheeses, and grappa that the vendors are eager to share. The local specialty, Speck, is readily available at many of the booths to purchase by the piece. Food vendors also sell this unique smoked, cured meat in paninis and in pretzel sandwiches. Apart from the beautiful sights, variety of tastes and smells, the market is also a meeting place for buskers aiming to please the holiday crowds. Its no surprise to see violinists serenading the crowds as they make their way through the streets.
As the day wears on, it is a good idea for market goers to sample some warm refreshments to keep their body temperatures elevated. This means ‘Gluwein’. This hot mulled wine is served in take-home mugs that double as souvenirs. So even as the night gets colder, the atmosphere heats up with alcohol induced red-cheeks and jovial conversation. Continue wandering around town and the excitement continues down the various pedestrian-only cobblestone walkways. Take a trip to Vogele for a typical South Tyrolean dining experience. Taste the Gulwein on the terrace and watch as the throngs of people pass their way into the night.