The magic of the holidays: from Santa Claus, new olive oil and more
Sebbene la Toscana sia una regione dove le sorprese non finiscono mai, anche qui dicembre è principalmente sinonimo di...Natale! Ed il Natale si sa, porta con sè un sacco di eventi, tradizioni, cose buone da mangiare, feste ed, ovviamente, gli immancabili regali. Ecco, quindi, che tutta la Toscana si veste di rosso e si anima di mercatini, fiere, eventi tradizionali che recano il segno inconfondibile del Natale ma che, in un modo o in un altro, mantengono ben alto il tocco della genuina autenticità locale.
Tuscany is one of those regions that just keeps on surprising you, but December in Tuscany mostly stands for Christmas (Natale) and that means delicious food, traditional festivals, colored lights, music, suggestive Nativity scenes and, obviously, gifts! This means that all of Tuscany gets dressed in its Christmas clothes, bringing to life holiday markets, special exhibitions and many delicious food events for this period with a their local origins always showing through.
That said, I wish to point out that not all events in Tuscany are dedicated to celebrating Christmas: after all, it’s about Tuscany we’re speaking about, an extremely resourceful region! Art, culture, and food continue to be present all over the territory, bringing a particular touch of tradition that contributes to making December special. At the same time, you will still find several of the tastes of fall that Tuscany commonly celebrates with its most typical regional products, such as olive oil, wine, chestnuts, and mushrooms.
Below you will find a list of some of our favorite food festivals, as well as other events and markets taking place this December.
This month is so special we have added a few "extra" pages dedicated to local Christmas markets and another to the traditional Christmas Nativity Scenes or Presepe found throughout the region of Tuscany.
If you're focusing your time in Florence or surroundings, remember to check out the page on events in December in Florence which has info for what's going on in this great city and nearby surroundings.
FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, CHRISTMAS & SANTO STEFANO | All of Italy | Dec. 8, 25 & 26th
Very much celebrated throughout the entire country, these days coincide with major Christian holidays celebrating the Immaculate Conception, the birth of Jesus and Saint Stephen, also known as Boxing Day. Many will make a longer weekend out of the Christmas holidays and you will find lots of local residents and Italian tourists flooding the cities and main attractions, particularly the Christmast markets. Shops and stores will be open on the 24th of December but be aware that many will close early. Restaurants are open on the 8th, 24th, 25th and 26th as well as the 31st and 1st of the year, but do book ahead because you don't want to risk not getting a table!
Public transport on these days work on a "festivo" or the holiday schedule. Check hours in advance for museums, monuments, and churches.
FIERA ANTIQUARIA | Arezzo | December 4 and 5
Many years ago, Ivan Bruschi gave life to one of the oldest and biggest antique fairs in Tuscany... maybe even all of Italy. He transformed his love for the old, unique and precious into an event that fills the streets of Arezzo every first Saturday and Sunday of the month. Check the official site for info on how to get there and where to park, among other details.
CONCERT FOR ST. CECILIA | Asciano | December 5, 6pm
The traditional Christmas concert for Santa Cecilia is presented by the Filarmonica Giuseppe Verdi of Asciano, with a holy Mass at 5pm and the concert following at 6pm in the Basilica di S. Agata.
APRILANTE | Panzano in Chianti | 1st Sunday in December
We know they call the fair "April" ante, but this local homemade and vintage market takes place year round, every first Sunday of the month! The market extends over the main streets of this charming hilltop village in Chianti where you will find handmade crafts, vintage and delicious local traditional foods... all in the Chianti countryside between Florence and Siena.
CITTÀ DELLA CASTAGNA | Castelnuovo Garfagnana | December 4 and 5
The “City of the Chestnuts” is ready to tempt your taste buds with their quality DOP chestnut flour and some of their special recipes, including Necci, mondine and polenta. You will find excursions in the woods, music at the parks and a wide range of treats made from chestnuts, check out the full program to see which restaurants are participating with their special menu and prices.
FESTA DELL’OLIO | San Quirico d’Orcia | December 4-8
A perfect occasion to taste the season's new "yellow gold", as just pressed olive oil is called in Tuscany. Stands across the town will give you tastings, but heading here will also give you the chance to experience one of the most gorgeous landscapes in the Val d'Orcia and Tuscany. Check the official site for the full event program.
SAGRA DELLA POLENTA DOLCE E BALDINO | Faltona, Casentino | December 8
Chestnuts were treasured as a source of nourishment filling in the holes of hunger during the long, cold winter months of long ago times. Today, they are a source of delicious treats, whether they are roasted, boiled, ground and made into flour for desserts. Come and taste them in every form in the valley of Casentino. For centuries, Faltona, a small mountain village near Talla, represents one of the best known areas of the Casentino for the production of chestmuts. For this reason, the Proloco of Faltona organizes on December 8th every year the festival dedicated to the "polenta dolce and baldino", the local name in Casentino for one of the better known desserts made in Tuscany with chestnut flour, the "castagnaccio". More details on the official website.
CANTINE APERTE A NATALE | across Tuscany | December 4-12
Throughout a week in December and across the lovely region of Tuscany, you will find "tasty" events taking place in local wine cellars. These days are a special occasion to select wines for your holiday table, as well as enjoy an afternoon or several days in the wine cellars. For families, there are special events dedicated for kids to get them to learn about the world of wine considering its importance for the region and Italy. For dates, locations and hours, take a look at the offical website.
PIANO FESTIVAL - CHRISTMAS CONCERT | Amiata, Forum Fondazione Bertelli, Poggi del Sasso | December 11
The Fondazione Bertarelli opens its doors this month with its special holiday concert with the sounds of Beethoven. Check out the official website for more details.
ANTIQUES MARKET ANTIQUARIATO | Barga | December 11-12
This month is not all about food| Just north of Lucca in the area known as the Garfagnana you will find fall colors, flavors and an antique fair that merits a visit. The market repeats monthly on the second Saturday and Sunday of the month.
MARE DI VINO | Livorno Port | first weekend December
Over 3000 square meters of exhibition space featuring the wines from Bolgheri and Val di Cornia, as well as those from Montescudaio, Riparbella and the area of Terratico di Bibbona and the Islands of Elba and Capraia. In addition to the wines, there will be a space dedicated to stands about olive oil from these areas. Don't miss your chance to widen your horizons and taste some great wines that reside outside of the classical wine areas in Tuscany. Check out the official site for program, tickets and more info.
IL DESCO - SAPORI E SAPERI LUCCHESI | Lucca | first two weekends of December
Il Desco - Sapori e Saperi Lucchesi is taking place at the Real Collegio in the very heart of the city. Il Desco is a fair dedicated to food which will highlight traditional regional cuisine products and offers culinary workshops for both children and grown-ups, tasting stands and more. Food isn't the sole protagonist of this event, as art and culture also play a very important role. Check the official site for this year's program.
TOSCANA GOSPEL FESTIVAL | various cities in Tuscany | December 16 - January 1
It’s been 25 years that Tuscany started inviting gospel groups to perform in the month of December creating a festive and musical atmosphere. Over the course of the second part of the month, several concerts take place in different locations throughout Tuscany, a perfect way to enjoy an evening. Check out the calendar and locations, this year going from Torrita di Siena to Arezzo and Montepulciano to Prato and Calenzano.
I NATALECCI | Lucca | December 24
In the historic little town, just outside of Lucca, called Gorfigliano, several bonfires are set across the village, a tradition which illuminates the skies on Christmas Eve. This is a tradition particularly felt in the Municipality of Minucciano, the lighting of the "Natalecci", on the evening of Christmas Eve as soon as dusk falls. It is the durability and resistance of these large bonfires, lit at strategic points to be seen by all the villages in the district, which foster hope for the new year that is about to begin.
CITTA’ DELLE FIACCOLE | Abbadia San Salvatore | December 24
Similar to the Natalecci above, in Abbadia San Salvatore, ”Le Fiaccole” are pyres (sometimes 7 meters tall) that will be lit on the 24th of December. Generally locals start building the pyres from the 8th of December and several dates across the month lead up to the huge "Sacred Fire" on the night of the 24th called "la Notte delle Fiaccole". The tradition has lasted for thousands of years in this small medieval hamlet. Christmas is celebrated with holiday sonds and tastings of local products. For more information on this traditional (in Italian only), check out the official site.
IL PAGLIAIO | Greve in Chianti | 4th Sunday of December
Piazza Matteotti is filled with locals who feature goods from their gardens, their kitchens, and their workshops. Often you will find not only great bargains but music and opportunities to do some taste testing. Check their Facebook page for updates, often just a few days ahead of the event.
LAST UPDATE: December 6, 2021