Who said that Christmas markets are just the ‘snowy’ ones?
Even the mild Mediterranean climate of the heel of the boot (South Italy) can welcome Christmas in the most traditional way while… adding an ‘exotic’ note.
Fair-trade focused, medieval, artistic, multi-ethnic, there is enough to enchant and amaze anyone, all in an atmosphere that is certainly not the summer, but that still allows a nice aperitif on the sea, in the morning.
All Christmas markets of the Puglia region deserve being enjoyed, but now we want to suggest you 7 of them, which are characterized by some special peculiarities.
1 – Art, crafts and (spicy) flavors in Tarantino.
From 18 to 26 December, in the central Piazza d’Angiò, in Taranto, impromptu art joins the scents of the typical products, in the Christmas market called “Fatti ad arte”.
The market offers the production and packaging of many artistic products both local and exotic, as in the case of the exhibition and sale of 150 varieties of hot peppers from all over the world.
There is also the opportunity to taste and buy the box sets of local sea urchin, and other food products freshly cooked.
These real ‘show cooking’ rich in tradition, attracts young and adults and there is a rich number of tourists who come specifically for this event (where there is also plenty of more common gift ideas).
2 – Active and shared participation in the Christmas of San Pietro Vernotico
The active traders in the area of San Pietro Vernotico, town in the province of Brindisi, halfway between Brindisi and Lecce, organize, on Sundays 13th and 20th of December, along Via Brindisi, an exhibition and sale of local products and a series of events to ‘pull off the residents fromshopping malls’, proposing alternative and urban places to think about their Christmas gifts. Participation and self-management is the main feature of this shared market: young people bring their records and they are given the equipment for DJs improvisations.
This market combines an open air disco area to spaces for craft activities where everyone can have a try.
Moreover, for lovers of vintage markets, there is a separate section prepared by the Ass. ‘Sole donne’, in Piazza del Popolo. Vintage items, old charmed trinkets and object for vintage experts are sold and proceeds from the sales will be donated to the local Red Cross.
For the fans of tutorials, for people fond with DIY, for the curious never tired of knowledge (and flavors), the Christmas Market of Brindisi is definitely worth visiting. Held from late November until January 6th in Corso Umberto and Piazza Vittoria it’s interesting not only for the particular attention to details but also for its ‘live tutorial’ of handmade techniques (creative sewing, decorations, sand paintings, etc.), demonstrations of gastronomic traditional processes, such as olive harvesting and processing grapes into wine. For kids, specific areas for reading and theatrical entertainment.
4 – Gallipoli and its cribs … where the little boy ‘disappears’
“Ci oi face ‘nu bonu Natale te S. Taresa ai ‘nzignare” (If you want to do a good Christmas, you have to start from Santa Teresa). This saying of the beautiful city of Gallipoli indicates that here the preparation for Christmas begins in Oct. 15!
We suggest you to fully enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas in Gallipoli from Dec. 8th, the day when in all the houses of the old town, artistic Christmas cribs are made and are located near the windows so that they are visible from outside.
The markets with local handicrafts and products of the culinary tradition are on Corso Roma.
Another gem from the local folklore: If possible, go back to Gallipoli on December 28th and visit again the old town to see the private Christmas cribs: you will notice that in many cribs, Jesus has been removed. This is because locally, on December 28, people remember the massacre of the innocents, dramatic historical event in which Herod had dozens of children killed. So, in Gallipoli, the little boy is taken away and concealed as a sign of protection. There are those who recalls the tragic event with special sad and weeping nativity figures.
5 – Muro Leccese, ancient sites and modern syncretism
The beautiful medieval village of Muro Leccese, a town in the south central part of the Salento, becomes even more impressive with the typical Christmas lights. The local Christmas markets alternate ancient culture events to the most modern and rich syncretism. In fact, here you can admire an exhibition of nativity scenes from ‘400 to the present days and many typical Christmas local craft works in the hall of the underground oil mill of the Protonobilissimo’s family.
But you can also join the ‘torchlight procession’ that starts at the town park (on Dec. 8th) 5.30 pm and heads to Piazza del Popolo, where children light four Christmas trees, decorated with ornaments made by local kids. Then you can join a ‘pittulata’ where you can taste the local ‘pittule’.
6 – Medieval Market in Castro
The inhabitants of Castro, pearl near the sea and one of the most beautiful of Salento, with a glorious past, take very seriously the Christmas in the County, which counts every year up to 40,000 visitors, due to the care of the most faithful historical reconstructions . Organized thanks to the collaboration of the Ass. Castro Medievale with the local volunteers, this market and historical reconstruction will be held this year on Dec. 26 and Jan. 1st and 5th.
Every corner of the old town presents scenes of medieval life with arts and crafts, traveling shows, musicians, storytellers, traditional old food. The approximately 150 participants of the event and the procession have clothes hand made by local seamstresses.
7 – Lecce, where the intercultural dialogue is an easy thing
The Christmas markets of the baroque capital unfold in two main areas: the fair of Saint Lucia (or Fiera dei Pupi), that from December 5th to Dec. 24th colors with the city the work of 102 craftsmen in the spaces of the monastery of the Teatini, and the ‘Mercato delle arti e delle etnie’, along Via Aldo Moro, from December 1st to January 8th. While all the national political debate argues about homegrown traditions to defend or to change, in Lecce the debate was largely solved long ago, with a Christmas celebration that sees the active participation of all the cultures that populate the city.
Aware that every culture is made up of contamination, the city of Lecce allows you to purchase the most common European Christmas gifts, alternating handicrafts from Egypt and Senegal. You can also attend impromptu art of Christian sacred art and enjoy the exhibition of Egyptian artists (December 8) with tasting of grappa and pastries from around the world.
At the end, of intercultural dialogue it is not so complex.
At least, not here at the end of the earth.