Christmas in Piedmont
Getting into the Christmas Spirit in Piedmont
By Richard Noble
Christmas in Piedmont
Piedmont might not be at the top of everybody’s list of winter wonderlands, but this beautiful corner of North West Italy has everything you need to get into the Christmas spirit. Christmas in Piedmont offers visitors Christmas markets, wine, chestnuts, carols, nativities, Babbo Natale and maybe even a dusting of snow… Seriously, what more could you possibly ask for?
Here are four ways to get into the Christmas spirit in Piedmont this year…
1. Go to the Magico Paese di Natale in Govone Christmas Market
You can’t beat a good Christmas market, and Govone, a beautiful hilltop town in the Roero, between Asti and Alba, hosts one of Italy’s best. Snaking down the hill from the enchanting Castello di Govone, it boasts 70 Christmas stalls, selling everything from wooden tree decorations to white truffles. Get into the Christmas spirit listening to carol singers, an animatronic nativity scene and even a (not very Christmassy) adventure zone, with archery and a rope slide.
The main attractions though are Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: an interactive show replete with singing, dancing Oompa Loompas, The Five Legends of Christmas experience, and of course, Babbo Natale’s house. The village is open every weekend from 29th November to 6th January, but if you want to meet Babbo Natale himself, it’s best to book in advance as he’s a busy man at this time of year.
In addition to Govone’s Christmas market, there are plenty of other markets throughout the region. Here’s a list of Christmas markets in Piedmont.
2. Get some snow
While there’s a decent chance much of Piedmont (Piemonte) will be covered in a blanket of snow come Christmas day, if you want your white Christmas guaranteed, just head up into the mountains. Limone Piemonte, 20 minutes south of Cuneo, has 80 kilometres of pistes for downhill skiers, 5km of cross-country tracks, 80km of snowshoe trails, a snowpark and a dedicated children’s area with snow-tubing and tobogganing. On top of all this, Limone itself is a beautiful old town, filled with wonderful restaurants and cosy little bars, perfect for snuggling up in front of the fire with a glass of vin brulè (mulled wine).
3. Take part in a real life nativity in Dogliani
Every year, on the 23rd and 24th of December, the town of Dogliani travels back in time a couple of thousand years for the Presepe Vivente, or Living Nativity. The whole town is transformed with more than 350 people dressing up as shepherds, wise men and, of course, Joseph and Mary and acting out the story of the birth of Christ. The atmosphere is magical, with the electricity turned off for the night, and bars and restaurants ready to welcome you in out of the cold with a glass of wine and some homemade bread.
If you want to stay the night it’s probably best to book ahead, otherwise there might be no room at the inn!!
4. Bright lights, big city
It’s not Christmas without a good light display, and Turin’s Christmas lights are good enough to rival anywhere. These are no ordinary Christmas lights though. Sure, there’s a nod to normality with a tree in Piazza Castello (not a real tree mind…) but the rest of the city is illuminated by a series of 19 open-air art installations, called the Luci d’Artista.
Created by well-known international artists, this year’s highlights include L’energia che unisce si espande nel blu in Galleria Umberto, Doppio Sogno in Piazzetta Mollino and Il Volo dei Numeri, which lights up the famous Mole. You can pick up a map of the lights from the tourist office or just start at Piazza Castello and wander the streets. You never know what you might see around the next corner!
There are also plenty of other Christmas events taking place across Turin throughout December. Check out the Natale Torino website for a full list of activities to help get you into the Christmas spirit in Turin: http://www.nataleatorino.it/
Richard Noble blogs about his life in Piedmont on Living in the Langhe