Last holiday season, we made a last minute decision to add Florence, Italy to our European family vacation. We arrived in Florence on December 24, Christmas Eve, and left December 27. While planning, I worried that perhaps, spending Christmas in Florence wouldn’t feel festive…after all, their seasonal Christmas markets close before Christmas Day. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Florence Italy at Christmas is beautiful! Scroll down for a few tips and plenty of images.
Florence Italy at Christmas:
We came to Florence from Paris, where the Christmas markets were still in full swing. However, Florence definitely beats out the City of Lights in holidays light displays. Every narrow street of historic Florence featured strings of lights. Each street was different.
- Florence also has many more Christmas trees than Paris. We found this to be true throughout Italy as opposed to France. Italy, and Florence in particular, also has wonderful nativity scenes.
- While in Florence for Christmas, look for impromptu Christmas carnivals in various piazzas, including cheap carnival games, street performers, carrousels, and outdoor ice skating rinks.
- On Christmas Day, expect for museums to be closed. Take walking tours instead, or go to a church service.
- Try to make reservations for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meals ahead of time. Some restaurants will close. For those that remain open, expect them to be busy for Christmas lunch and closed for the evening. Some restaurants will have set menus. Stock up on a few basics at the grocery store so you can make a simple Christmas evening meal in your apartment rental, if that’s an option for you.
- Look for elaborate Nativity scenes in Florence, both outside the Duomo and in area churches. It’s ok to step inside churches to see their nativity scenes, provided you don’t go during service hours.
- Step inside artisan meat and cheese shops and you’ll most likely find generous tasting offerings. We tasted so much cheese, it was a snack!
- Buy a panettone at a grocery store. This traditional Italian holiday bread is similar to a coffee cake, and we picked one up for under €5. We liked it so much, we bought another in Rome!
- If you want to ice skate at the outdoor rinks, the ice is free, but skate rentals are around €5 per person. For this price, you usually get about 30 minutes. This was enough time for us. The rink we found was open Christmas Day.
Have you been to Florence at Christmas? What was your favorite sight to see?