How will you be bidding farewell to this year? Any plans yet?
If you are thinking about somewhere unusual in Europe, perhaps in Italy, think Tuscany. But not the areas with mass tourism: the Maremma, in the south of the region, is a beautiful land off the beaten track, immersed in nature, yet only a short drive away from hot spots like Florence, Pisa, Siena and even Rome.
A number of traditional events take place in the Maremma to celebrate Christmas and the arrival of the New Year. Let’s have a look at some of these historic recurrences.
Mercatini di Natale (Christmas markets) – Charming Christmas markets selling everything from hand-crafted goods like toys and decorations to freshly roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate and every kind of sweet local delicacies. You will find these in virtually every town, large or small!
Presepe Vivente (Living Créche) – Live re-enactments of the Nativity within the historic city walls. Locals in various cities transform their villages into Bethlehem and play out all aspects of village life at that time. Lovely examples are the Nativity Scenes that you can admire in the hamlets of Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano, Caldana and Sorano.
Olià Festival – Tastings, handicraft markets in the wineries, display of crèches in the historic center of Scansano. The initiative is dedicated, above all, to the celebration of local olives and olive oil, which you can appreciate with special tastings and lessons on how to savor these delicacies.
Corriamo con Gesù Bambino (Let’s run with Baby Jesus) – The sea village of Porto Santo Stefano combines religion with sports: a race is organized in which runners carry the statue of Baby Jesus from the secluded Convent of the Padri Passionisti to the village Church (11 km away), where they arrive at midnight for Christmas celebrations.
Fiaccole di Natale (Christmas Torches) – On the night of 24 December of every year, the town of Abbadia San Salvatore lights up with more than 40 bonfires (with woodpiles up to 5 meters high) around which the locals sing Christmas carols and keep warm with wine and traditional local desserts.
The benefits of visiting the Maremma Tuscany for Christmas and New Year’s is that you will find few crowds, pristine nature, historical and cultural riches, affordable airfares, and the coastal area also offers mild temperatures and no snow. This allows you to enjoy the picturesque landscape and all it has to offer, including visiting vineyards and historic wineries, horse riding between the sandy beaches and the nature reserves, and playing golf between the rolling hills.
If you are looking for a place to stay, the Argentario Resort Golf & Spa offers the “New Year’s Eve in Tuscany” package.
Golf lovers might be interested in knowing that every year, the Argentario Golf Club hosts the prestigious Christmas Pro Am, during which professional and amateur golfers from all over Italy compete on the Tuscan golf course. Players from abroad are welcome too, and can have a go at winning the prize money of up to 10.000 euro.