What to do in December in Bologna, Modena and Parma

December is a month filled with festive activities. Many cities get lighten up, Christmas trees start to populate squares and markets or other types of events are organized. If you find your self in Italy and more specifically in the region of Emilia-Romagna, there are some events and activities you really shouldn’t miss out in December. This article is specifically about what to do in December in BolognaModena, and Parma. Let’s dig in!

Visit Bologna’s Fiera Di Santa Lucia

Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia, Bologna“Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia, Bologna” by sdhaddow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In Bologna, many events are organized during December. Starting from the first days of the month, the whole atmosphere in the city gets festive every day more. From Christmas markets, choir singing and open-air concerts, Bologna offers events and activities for different tastes and preferences.

One of the most traditional things to do in the city is to visit the popular Fiera di Santa Lucia. From late November until Christmas, the portico of The Servi’s Church (Chiesa Dei Servi) is filled with small stalls, displaying sweets, gifts, Christmas decorations, and Crib items. The atmosphere of the market is very “Christmassy” and joyous but it is worth to see Bologna under a different light during December. The Fiera di Santa Lucia is one of the most loved Christmas Markets in Bologna. For this reason, you should not miss the chance to visit it and maybe try some of the local sweets.

Eat The Traditional Zampone in Modena’s Famous Restaurant “Oreste”

Christmas is synonymous with rich dinners and family meals in many parts of the world. Christmas is commonly associated with the feeling of getting together, sharing time and yummy food. That couldn’t be truer in Italy, where Christmas family dinners are traditionally known for being very delicious (and quite heavy too, but hey, it’s Christmas). A popular dish that is commonly eaten in the Emilia-Romagna region during this period is “zampone”. Zampone is pig’s trotter stuffed with ground pork which is usually dried and cured and traditionally served with lentils. It is typical of the city of Modena and eaten for Christmas or New Year’s Eve by many Italian Families.

If you want to try a good, well made and loved zampone, you should pay a visit to the famous restaurant “Oreste”. The restaurant has been hugely popular among the Modenese and it is famously known as Luciano Pavarotti’s favorite restaurant and offers not only great service in the perfect location, close to Modena’s Duomo but also yummy traditional food. It is not a restaurant for fancy surroundings or a quick meal. Rather, it is the perfect place to visit if you want to experience real, classic Italian food. The place was recently renovated, but it has still kept the magnificent familiar and warm atmosphere that has always characterized the place.

Participate at Parma’s New Year’s Eve Gala

Sometimes knowing what to do for New Year’s Eve and how to celebrate the welcoming of the new year might be a bit stressful. If you are in doubt, think about the opportunity of spending such night in Parma!

If you like good food and fancy locations, there is no better way to conclude the year with the famous New Year’s Eve Gala Of Teatro Regio di Parma (or Gala Di Capodanno in Italian). The evening includes a wonderful concert and complete dinner with drinks and amazing entertainment, to properly welcome 2020 in the beautiful location the Regio Theater.

As previously mentioned, these are just some of the many activities you can enjoy and take part in during December in the major cities of Emilia-Romagna. Smaller cities also organize events that are worth checking out. Not many consider visiting the northern part of Italy during December, but in reality, it is a great way to have a different taste of Italian traditions. Go, explore and have fun, you might be surprised at how different some cities might look like during Christmas time!

Christmas Markets in Bologna

If you find yourself looking for something to do to pass the time, to explore and live the city during your stay in Bologna, there’s nothing better than to take a look at the many, varied Christmas markets dotting the streets during the month of December.
Sheltered by the arcades and towering architecture of Bologna, you’ll be free to stroll to the various locations that will house different markets and displays of antiquities, hand-made crafts and gifts. And don’t forget that the city has many other things to offer, and that you can enjoy to add a little something more to your experience: food stalls, bars, restaurants and cafés will offer unique treats of wintertime, perfect to soothe you and warm you up.
If, indeed, you’re looking for trinkets, gifts or even more special objects and mementos of all kinds, keep an eye out and be sure to be around when these Christmas markets take place.

Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia (Ancient Festival of Saint Lucy)

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The Ancient Fair of Saint Lucy will take place along the arcades of the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi: it’s a tradition for the city, and the region, and it’s the epitome of Christmas markets and Winter shopping. Lasting until the 26th, you’ll have plenty of time to revel in the Christmas atmosphere of the city’s Christmas tree, food stalls with typical Winter treats, a thriving and lively market with all sorts of objects and gift ideas and exhibitions with hand-crafted creations.

Fiera di Natale (Christmas Fair)

On the right side of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, at the core of Bologna, the traditional Christmas Fair will be taking place for the whole month of December until the 8th of January, allowing visitors and tourists plenty of time to take a look at the many stalls offering all sorts of gift ideas, trinkets, hand-made objects and even sweet and savory Winter-time snacks.

Natale a Porta Galliera (Christmas at Porta Galliera)

Piazza XX Settembre in Bologna will be the location for a small Christmas market that will last all the way to the 1st of January, giving you a chance to go shopping for late presents, or to buy interesting items even after Christmas. There’s a carousel to entertain children, as well as food stalls to entice everyone.

Handicrafts in Via San Giuseppe in December

For the month of December, lasting until the 24th, two markets displaying hand-crafts and hand-made products will be taking place along Via San Giuseppe: they’re the “DecoMela Art” and “Colors” markets, showcasing creations made of wood, natural materials, leather, gems, glass and stones, bijoux and jewelry as well as cloth items. Be sure to visit Via San Giuseppe and its hand-crafts market if you want to find unique and custom made gifts for your friends and family, or even just something to decorate your house with.

Mercato Antiquario (Antiques Open-Air Market)

A great display of antiques, trinkets and knick-knacks, both meant for the Winter holidays as well as home décor all year round, will be taking place on Sunday 11th and the weekend of Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th along Via Santo Stefano. The Traditional Bologna Antique Market is a staple in the city’s Christmas traditions and the location, in the square in front of the Basilica di Santo Stefano, makes the experience all the more suggestive.

La Piazzola in December

Aside from the weekly appointments on Fridays and Saturdays, the Piazzola will offer a dedicated Christmas market full of incredible stalls with displays of many different trinkets and gift ideas during the month of December. Be sure to hop by the Piazza VIII Agosto on Sunday 11th and Sunday 18th to see the Christmas ideas on offer for what concerns clothes, shoes, accessories, pottery, jewelry and more.
Fiera dell’Antiquariato (Antiques’ Fair)
From the 12th to the 24th of December, the Fiera dell’Antiquariato will be waiting for you to come by and take a look at an amazing display of original and valuable antiques to purchase as Christmas gifts for yourself or your loved ones. The antique market will take place at the heart of the old town center, under the Voltone del Podestà. Looking around the stalls, you’ll be able to find antiques, modern-antiques, knick-knacks, unique objects and paintings.

Villaggio di Natale Francese (French Christmas Market)

You have time until the 21st of December to head over to Piazza Minghetti to enjoy the wonderful display of stalls and decorations that make up the Christmas market, with its mesmerizing atmosphere and French setting that will be sure to captivate you. Enjoy typical French gastronomic specialties and products such as fine wine, cheeses and baked goods, and save some money to purchase delightful trinkets and accessories to gift or to decorate your home for the holidays with.