Christmas Markets: Bolzano special

With the Christmas celebrations, you can surround yourself by the magic atmosphere of Advent thanks to the numerous fairs and markets of the Infant Jesus, or Christkindlmarkt as they are called in Germany.  In this period, the small and large towns of Europe host the famous Christmas Fairs and Markets, which offer a cheerful alternative to the usual shopping and fashion of the great commercial centres or the most ‘In’ town shops.

At Vienna in this period, as in Stockholm or Berlin and many other European places, the squares are full of street artists and visitors from afar, among the lights and colours of the fairs and market stalls, arches and church spires and steeples, trees and Christmas decorations.

Also in many Italian cities, and especially in Trentino, thousands of people are transported by the euphoria of the festival, to rediscover typical gastronomic products of the area, buy hand-craft objects, visit nativity/crib scenes or museums between instrumental music or the notes of spiritual choirs, and participate in public shows or exhibitions of street artists.

Not to be missed between 28th November and 23rd December 2008, are the Christmas Fairs and Markets of Bolzano:  the main one is in Piazza Walter, in front of Bolzano Cathedral, the cathedral dedicated to Virgin Mary, where the Cathedral Treasures will be on show for the occasion: statues, paintings and precious sacred objects in gold and silver. It will be possible to admire the architectural details of the Church, characterized by the contrast between Gothic art of Nordic style and the renaissance character of the frescoes dating between 1360-1370, all from the Giotto workshops. For those who are looking for originality apart from good taste in the choice of gifts, you can visit the handicrafts market and fair, in Piazza Municipio, where pottery makers, wood sculptors and florists sell their fantasy Christmas articles for decorating the house.  In the same square, there will also be a merry-go-round to delight the youngest ones and every weekend you will be able to listen to traditional music, French horn players, music bands, story-tellers and fairytale narrators.

But there is another possibility for those who are not content just to give something unique.  In fact, in Piazza della Mostra, the Human Relations Centre of Bolzano has organized a fair and market dedicated to hand-made products, where you can find embroidered fabrics, silk goods, costume jewellery and trinkets, pottery and glass items, articles made of leather, wool, drums, paintings, incense, wooden toys, rings, bracelets.

A visit to the fairs and markets of Bolzano will allow you to experience the beauty of this Christian festival, getting you involved in the typical Christmas sounds and fragrances of local pastries such as apple strudel with vanilla sauce, home-made biscuits, mulled wine sold on many stalls in the various squares.  The possibility to live an original experience in memory of tradition, could be an invitation to enter into one of the wonderful churches of the city to rediscover, in silence, the spiritual significance of the festival, to visit the exhibition of nativity scenes and cribs in the tiny alleys and lanes of San Paolo, just 8km from Bolzano, as also to taste the typical specialties of the regional cuisine: “goulash” with beer, dumplings in beer, Vienna sausages of Munich with the traditional “Brezen” (Pretzels), charcoal-grilled Nurimberg sausages, potato fritters with sauerkraut, South Tyrolean dumplings on a cabbage and speck-ham salad, medallion of venison in blueberry sauce, just to mention some of the dishes.

You should not worry too much about parking if you go by car, because there are many car parks available, outside the city centre, however, you could always choose from the alternative transport available – train, plane, car or bus.  In fact, some transport companies have organized trips which leave early morning from the main Italian cities, returning comfortably in the evening.  If you want to stay for the weekend or for a few days, you can choose the best solution which suits you.

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