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Mercatini di Natale 

Christmas Markets

In Northern Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige, il Mercatino di Natale (the Christmas market) brings light, joy and cheer. As a local website describes it, “Il Mercatino è una festa per tutti (the Market is a feast for everyone) — a place to ascoltare e poi ammirare (to listen and then admire), respirare e poi gustare (to breathe and then taste), toccare con mano la tradizione (see/experience something first-hand, get a feel of tradition),
 vivere il clima di festa che avvolge e riscalda (to live the climate of the festival that surrounds and warms) visitors.

Nelle piazze e sulle strade (in the piazzas and on the streets) you experience un'atmosfera di sincero calore (an atmosphere of sincere warmth) and feel il valore più vero e profondo del Natale (the most true and profound value of Christmas). Il profumo (the scent) of il Mercatino di Natale  is unique: quello di cannella e spezie (that of cinnamon and spices), di legno di montagna (of mountain wood), di dolci fatti in casa (of homemade sweets) and di abeti decorati a festa (of fir trees in party decorations).


La luce (the light) comes from le casette di legno addobbate (the little decorated houses) and dall'albero di Natale (from the Christmas tree). Among le dolci note (the sweet notes) of il Mercatino are canti natalizi (Christmas carols), tradizione in musica (traditional music), dishes made from 
le antiche ricette della tradizione trentina e tirolese (ancient recipes from the traditions of Trentino and the Tyrol), le candele decorate (decorated candles)—and gli occhi brillanti dei bambini (the shining eyes of the children).

Here are some popular town markets:

Bolzano

This Sudtirol town hosts a charming Christmas market combining both German and Mediterranean traditions. On the weekends, traditional storytellers, trumpeters and musicians gather in the Piazza Walther and in local churches. Area restaurants offer a typical Sudtirolean menu, which mixes German culinary traditions with Italian delights. The artists' market in Piazza Municipio showcases unique Yuletide ornaments, terracotta and ceramics.

Bressanone

The lovely little ski town of Bressanone, hidden in the Dolomites and dating back to the year 901, puts on the Weihnachtsmarkt (literally, votive night market, another common Christmas market found throughout Germany). Visitors can also tour the Museo dei Presepi (Crèche Museum) in the Palazzo Vescovile.

Merano

Merano, una splendida città termale (a splendid spa town), invites visitors to its Christmas market to abbandonarsi alla carezza del wellness (to surrender to the caress of wellness). In addition to le occasioni di benessere (opportunities for wellbeing), there is una casetta in legno (a little wooden house) tutta dedicata agli artigiani che lavorano legno, pietra, cuoio, cera e feltro (completely dedicated to artisans working in wood, stone, leather, wax and felt).

Trento

Set amidst le antiche mura cittadine (the ancient city walls), Trento’s Mercatino boasts famose decorazioni natalizie impossibili da trovare altrove (famous Christmas decorations impossible to find elsewhere). A special section presents local specialties such as strudel di mele (apple strudel) and steaming cups of vin brulè (mulled wine). Christmas choirs in typical costumes (costumi tipici) of the region sing canti alpini (Alpine songs) agli angoli delle vie (at the street corners).

Words and Expressions

Oggetti d’artigianato –- artisan-made objects

Addobbi tradizionali –- traditional decorations

Specialità locali -– local specialties

Magica atmosfera –- magical atmosphere

Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting LanguageMONA LISA: A Life Discovered  and the upcoming  LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World. Click here to preorder. For more information, visit her new website: www.diannehales.com.

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