Top 5 reasons to visit the Christmas markets in the Dolomites

The crisp air of the Unesco Dolomite mountains during the winter season seem to have a warmer glow during the Christmas festivities. The larger cities and smaller mountain towns are dressed up in magical lights and amazing Christmas decorations. The tradition of Christmas markets in German-speaking countries dates back to the Middle Ages which is why this area of Northern Italy is so popular for it’s variety of markets, each with it’s own unique personality.

Gluwein

Hot beverages are the key element of all the Christmas markets to warm both body and soul. The stalls that sell these popular beverages are always the most crowded . Mulled wine or vin brûlée has been handed down from Roman times and consists of sweetened red wine, delicately warmed so as not to lose it’s alcoholic percentage, with the addition of cinnamon, cloves, lemon  or orange peel and star anise. A non-alcoholic version is made with local apple juice and cinnamon. Naturally, local beer is also on hand for those who don’t need warming up!

Shopping spree

The markets are the best place to find unusual and unique Christmas decorations and gifts. All items on sale are locally made and produced by artisans of the area, many of the items for sale are one of a kind pieces. Workshops are held by various craftspersons and farmers to demonstrate the complexity and love for their product. Each wooden chalets sells it’s particular item, from blown glass ornaments, intricate and unique woodcarvings, herbal teas and many other Alpine handcrafts. Cold weather accessories like gloves and hats are also on sale in case the mulled wine is not enough to brace the cold!

Gastronomic blend

This German-speaking Italian region has managed to blend the best of both worlds to produce unique gastronomic delights. The wooden stalls offering local fare are many with a variety of options on the menu. These stalls are usually heated so that you can enjoy a snack in the flickering warmth. Try the traditional Zelten, a sweet Christmas bread mad with dried fruit, nuts and spices. You will also find brezel with speck, bread with local melted cheese, sausages of all kinds, apple fritters and the famous apple strudel.

View the area

The Unesco Dolomite mountains are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. All the cities and towns that host the markets are surrounded by these magnificent white towering peaks. wander through the medieval towns with their cobbled streets, art nouveau palaces and brightly colored houses with wooden bow windows. The charming mountain towns have smaller markets and should be visited for their Alpine architecture and wonderful location. Pop over into Austria to visit the authentic Austrian markets of the border towns.

Sounds and smells

Ringing bells and Christmas carols among the wooden stalls and through the streets enhance this festive ambience. The aroma of steaming wine, roasted chestnuts, apples and spices fill the crisp air.

The historical markets of South Tyrol are an enjoyable and interesting way to explore this unusual area of Italy whilst discovering the local traditions.

Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana.

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