The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) in Florence, Italy located in the Piazza del Duomo stands beautifully over the city. Click to learn more about this magnificent cathedral.

A Tuscan Christmas

The Beauty of Christmas in Tuscany

In the month of December, cities throughout Tuscany are a true sight to be seen. With grand tree-lighting ceremonies, Christmas markets, and several weeks of holiday excitement, Tuscan cities sparkle with festive cheer. Just imagine waking up on Christmas morning in the perfect Tuscan villa as you smell the delicious aroma of Christmas lunch being prepared (an Italian tradition). Whether you’re looking for a charming farmhouse located in Val d’Orcia, a modern apartment in the bustling city of Florence or a grand and luxurious Tuscan villa for you and your entire family, most of our Tuscan vacation rentals can fit your needs during this special holiday.

One of our favorite things to do this time of the year is stroll the streets of Tuscany’s historical towns and admire the streets and stores lit up with lights, while bagpipers play Christmas melodies all around. You can also catch Babbo Natale giving candies to the children and view many handcrafted presepi or nativity scenes all around the region.  

The Christmas tree in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Listed below are some Tuscan Christmas or Natale, activities and traditions.

1. Shop at the Christmas Markets

During the holiday season, Tuscany is bedecked with Christmas markets, decorated with beautiful wooden stands where local vendors sell handcrafted goods, regional delicacies, wine, and much more!

A Christmas market in Tuscany.

2. Check Out the Nativity Scenes

If you are planning on spending Christmas in Tuscany, look out for the famous presepi, or nativity scenes that are spread all throughout Tuscan cities. You don’t have to look hard for them, they’re traditionally displayed in churches, piazzas, homes, and lots of other public places. They remain until the Italian holiday, Epiphany, that takes place on January 6th. The locals take great pride in the work they put into creating their nativity scenes. 

Christmas lights decorations in Santa Trinita Square in Florence Italy
Christmas lights decorations in Santa Trinita Square in Florence, Italy

3. Visit Holiday Events in Florence

During December, Florence is known for its sparkle and glow. The city is filled with lights that spread throughout the city centers, shopping districts, and more. This sets the stage for catching all of the local December events like ice skating at Florence Winter Park, watching The Nutcracker at the Teatro della Pergola theater, sipping tea at the British Institute of Florence Christmas Fair, or visiting the extravagant tree in front of the Duomo that is lit from the 8th of December.

The Famous Old Bridge (Ponte Vecchio) of Florence, Italy illuminated for the Festival of Lights during the Christmas Season.

4. Experience the Medieval Hilltop

Visiting medieval hilltop towns is another wonderful option around Christmas time. Towns like San Gimignano, Siena, Montepulciano, and Monteriggioni have lovely Christmas events all throughout December. 

5. Visit Tuscan Vineyards 

During the month of December, the Wine Tourism Movement celebrates the holidays with an event called Cantine Aperte a Natale where wine lovers can come for tastings, activities with the family, and more.

A traditional Tuscan Christmas meal.
A traditional Italian Christmas meal.

6. Prepare or participate in traditional Christmas meals!

The Italian Christmas has much to do with food. However, the traditions differ region by region. The meal for Christmas Eve, also known as La Vigilia, consists of fish and vegetables. The idea is to have a giorno di magro, a day of abstinence where you eat a “lean” meal to help purify and prepare your body for a holiday feast celebration. Pasta dishes are (of course) also very common and vary by region. For example, some will serve a lasagna covered with anchovies with traditional parmesan and seasonings. Most families spend Christmas Eve day preparing meals for Christmas day.

On Christmas day, lunch is the main meal where families gather together and indulge. Meat is back on the menu on Christmas day. Italians will typically start their Christmas lunch with cold cuts and cheese, prepare some fresh pasta such as lasagne bolognese or filled pasta like manicotti and ravioli. Next comes the very treasured…meat. Meats like braised beef, roasted veal, sausages, or baked chicken are most likely to be served. To finish this grand la festa, a traditional Tuscan Christmas dessert like Panforte and Cavallucci are common and likely to come from a recipe that’s 1000+ years old!

The day after Christmas is a day for leftovers and sweets in celebration for the holiday of Santo Stefano. Typically the holiday season will last until January 6th for the celebration of Epiphany. 

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season!

Buon Natale!

Tuscan Travel Agency Signatures

Planning a Tuscan holiday for 2020? Contact us here for help, ideas, and the best Tuscan vacation rentals around!

You don't have permission to register