Santa Croce’s International Christmas Market

Dusk at the Santa Croce’s Christmas market.  Photos and video by Morgan Angrove

It’s the Yule time of year! Christmastime is slowly but surely taking over Florence. More than a holiday, it’s a time of year and an entire season of cheer. The city is already decorated with lights and ornaments in the streets and sales in the stores. It is once again time for the opening of Florence’s annual holiday markets. The German Christmas market in piazza Santa Croce is one of the most popular in our city.

The Christmas spirit is one of generosity and kindness, and holiday markets are the perfect way to participate in the spirit of the season. At the German Christmas Market (officially called Weihnachtsmarkt and modeled after northern European counterparts), there will be vendors and wares from all over Europe focusing on this ancient holiday, providing an opportunity to buy phenomenal gifts for friends and family. There are arts and crafts cosmetics, jewelry, and a wide variety of food to eat while you walk around and enjoy everything there is to see.  This market is mainly international, with a grand total of 17 or 18 countries being represented through the vendors and wares.

The market was not held in 2020, and a smaller version was held in 2021 due to the pandemic, so this year is sure to be full-scale to make up for the lost time. This year marks the 21st edition. Out of the 51 stands in piazza Santa Croce, about 70% non-food items made by artisans. There is much to see and do.  Click play (on the arrow) to see a slide show of the Christmas market.

The fair will offer many items such as candles, Christmas decorations, and nativity scenes, as well as cashmere scarves and other textiles. A French exhibitor selling parkas, who has been participating since the first edition, will be in attendance, and a second participant from France will be showcasing crystals and minerals. A merchant from Switzerland is selling light-up stars and paper lanterns, and there will be soaps and dried lavender as well as stands representing the U.K. that display authentic English porcelain, English marmalade, and English tea after a three-year hiatus. There is a Haribo gummy bear stand featuring piles of gummies to be self-picked and priced by the pound. Nuns will be arriving from Minsk and Belarus to sell icons and the proceeds will go toward helping an orphanage. The huge variety of vendors and wares which will make for an extremely fascinating walk through the market for everyone who decides to visit.

Entertainment will also enliven the scene. On Saturdays and Sundays will feature live music and Christmas music in both English and Italian. On weekend afternoons, a choir will sing Christmas songs and carols in Italian or English. Flag throwers and drummers will also be performing on one Sunday; the date is still to be decided.

The food available in the German Christmas Market is of unique charm. A few main stands will offer food including hamburgers made with Tuscan beef, while another stand from Bavaria will have pork and hot dogs, as well as Polish sausages, and an Austrian company will be making huge pretzels. An exhibitor from the mountainous part of Northern Italy will be preparing delicious strudel and pork. In addition to the main food stands, a French vendor will be selling biscotti and another exhibitor from Austria dark chocolate sachertorte in addition to a second strudel stand. A chef from Holland will be preparing mini crepes on order filled with either marmalade or Nutella, which will be a delicious treat for anyone walking by. Seemingly all the spices in the world will be displayed in burlap sacks and for sale just in time for holiday meal planning along with loose tea to prepare hot beverages on chilly evenings.

The Christmas market will run from 10 am to 10  pmevery day of the week from November 19 to December 18. Since it is open every day for so long, make sure to stop by! This is the perfect way to spend a pleasant afternoon and a wonderful place to do Christmas shopping. There’s food and drinks, but the best part of this market is the variety and the many memories that will be made as you wander in between stalls that sell wonders of the season. (Isabella Azzaro)