Soon the holiday lights will be illuminating the streets and piazzas of Bologna. Christmas in Italy is a time of year bustling with activity, where shops and artisans are preparing for the holiday shopping season. Special foods are still the main focus of an Italian Christmas meal. The traditional fish dinner for Christmas Eve or the tortellini in brood (a meat broth) or the panettone and pandoro (a sweet bread with vanilla or candied fruit). So you can enjoy these holiday delights of Bologna, I’m suggesting 3 different, short shopping tours in the city center of Bologna, where you can discover some of the unique artisan shops and Christmas markets with a stop for a warm drink in one of the many nearby tea houses and cafes.
1.Christmas Market Tour
Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Italy from Bolzano to Naples. Among them, is the Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia in Bologna. It dates back to the late 16th century and today takes place under the portico of the church of Santa Maria dei Servi. After a stroll through this market, I suggest that you stop in a nearby tea house about a 10 minute walk away. Just cross through piazza Aldrovandi and walk down via San Vitale toward the city center and you will find Il Giardino delle Camelie on via San Vitale #7. This fully stocked tea house has a range of rare and unique teas from all over the world and a knowledgeable owner who can guide you through the menu to make a perfect choice.
Santa Lucia Market website
Where: Strada Maggiore in front of the church Santa Maria dei Servi
When: everyday from 9:30 to 20:00. Starting in mid-November and running through till December 26th
What: Christmas decorations, a wide variety of hand-made figurines for the Christmas nativity scene, food stands and deliciously warm and fragrant roasted chestnuts that make for a festive atmosphere
2. Artistic Ceramics Tour
This is a unique artistic space called Atelier Terra Rossa, run by the artist who create the ceramic pieces and wall decorations. In this cozy studio, they also give workshops to individuals and groups. The concept is that of an art studio open to the public. It’s a place you can observe the artist at work and, if you choose, buy the beautiful pieces they create. Before or after visiting this shop I suggest you stop by Fram Café just down the street from the studio on via Rialto 22. A decidedly healthy café where customers linger over a large warm cup of coffee or tea in big comfy chairs. Vegetarian and vegan treats are also available.
Atelier Terra Rossa - The Ceramics Studio
Ceramics Studio website
Where: Via Rialto, 4/B
When: All year round. The hours can vary but it is usually open from 9:00 to 19:00 but to play it safe telephone before going +39 335 5356061
What: Ceramic pieces including jewelry, unique Christmas ornaments and one of a kind vases and bowls.
3. Chocolate Lovers Tour
Since 1796 the Majani family has run the chocolate factory and shop called Majani. It is one of the very few small chocolate companies that still starts its chocolate-making process from the raw cacao seed. Some of their creations have become Italian classics like the chocolate tortelleni, cremino Fiat, sfoglia nera. The Bologna shop is like a jewel box displaying all the variety of confections in an elegant dark wood and white marble shop in the city center near via Farini. And to continue with the chocolate theme I suggest a beautiful cafe just down the street from the Majani shop called Café Zanarini in Piazza Galvani 1. They make a classic Italian hot chocolate that is thick - very chocolatey and pudding-like. The crowd is young and old, locals and tourist, the well-heeled set of Bologna.
Majani Chocolates website
Where: Via Dè Carbonesi 5
When: All year round. Monday to Saturday 9:30 to 13:00 and 15:30 to 19:30 Closed Thursdays
What: chocolate tortelleni, cremino Fiat, marron glace, sfoglia near, jellied fruit candies and licorice all in small and large packages.
Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, Christine! Any travellers headed to Bologna in 2016 can contact Christine via her guide profile page for a personalized tour of her fabulous city.