The wintertime landscape surrounding Florence is one of dramatic beauty, when snow can dust the surrounding hills, or even on occasion the city center. Bundled up, families will enjoy strolling through the streets surrounding Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria to admire the elegantly decorated storefronts and displays of holiday sweets in the windows of bakeries and cafes. Be sure to sample the panettone, a traditional Christmas bread originally from Milan, or warm up with hot chocolate for the kids and aperitivi for the parents at the historic Rivoire at Piazza della Signoria, 5r, where both are served with much fanfare.
Every year, Father Christmas greets children at Babbo Natale‘s House at the Florence Noel market, a holiday wonderland from late November to the Epiphany at Parterre, near Piazza della Libertà. This “Christmas village” features an outdoor skating rink, music and activities for the kids, traditional sweets and candies, and market stalls with toys and gifts. In the center, the Heidelberg Market in Piazza Santa Croce brings the flavor of classic Northern European Christmas markets to Florence from late November through December, where families can sample German holiday sweets and candies such as strudel and browse rows of market stalls with German Christmas decorations, toys, and traditional handicrafts.
Steeped in cultural traditions that endure in a lively manner today, Florence during the holidays offers classical concerts (see our events calendar) throughout the city. From carols to classical liturgical compositions, the children will enjoy hearing familiar songs in a variety of languages.
The one caveat to visiting Italy during the holidays is the possibility that some of the significant historic sites such as museums and churches have irregular schedules and additional closures during this period. I suggest careful planning of your family’s sightseeing itinerary and advance ticket purchases for museums. Above all, settle in to the atmosphere of cheer and celebration, and experience a Buon Natale your family will cherish.
— Shannon Venable