Holiday Magic: Santa Croce’s Christmas Market
Until December 17, 2023: CHRISTMAS MARKET. Free entry. Open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.
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In the heart of Florence, where ancient cobbled streets echo with history, lies a magical spectacle each December—a Christmas Market in piazza Santa Croce.
The Christmas Market, or Weihnachtsmarkt, has been an annual tradition in Florence for many years. Currently, over 50 stands fill the square.
Underneath the sacred façade of the Basilica di Santa Croce, market stalls come to life, each one beckoning visitors to explore a treasure trove of handmade crafts, artisanal goods, and festive decorations. The holiday gift items and culinary specialties come from a wide range of European countries such as Germany, France, Austria, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Belarus, the Ukraine, and of course, Italy.
During this festive season, the air fills with the harmonious medley of laughter, the occasional street musician’s melody, and the alluring aroma of roasted chestnuts and spiced wine at the Christmas market. The stalls offer a delectable array of regional cuisines, including Dutch crepes, strudel and canederli dumplings from the Italian Alps, German wurstel (hot dogs) Greek gyros, Spanish chocolate-dipped churros and Hungarian chimney cakes (kurtos). Tables and chairs are located next to the food areas, which also offer burgers of Tuscan Chianina beef.
The delicate craftsmanship of local artisans is display, from hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments to intricate nativity scenes. Other items and potential gift ideas include original jewelry, Scottish woolen goods, leather gloves and wallets, handcrafted wooden toys, and French lavender oil and spices.
Then, in the holiday spirit of giving, the market also offers a chance to contribute to a good cause through a dedicated stand for non-profit organizations. There, representatives of the American International League of Florence (AILO) are selling their remaining Viva Vittoria crocheted blankets, with proceeds benefiting three non-profits dedicated to providing easily accessible services to women who have experienced domestic violence.
The Christmas Market in Santa Croce piazza is not merely a gathering of stalls; it is a symphony of tradition, art, and the timeless spirit of Christmas. In this joyful array, Florence revels in the winter season, inviting both locals and visitors to partake in the holiday enchantment. During the next few weeks, the market will host additional concerts, traditional flag-throwing displays, and activities for children until its closure on December 18. (Mia Ruiz-Garner)