In Italy every region has different traditions to celebrate Christmas. Tuscany itself has more than one, and it’s not just about decorations and Christmas trees! We found the 5 most peculiar ways to celebrate Christmas in Tuscany, from night walks to the Panforte competition.
Monteriggioni and Via Francigena at night
It happens the 24th of December: a 4 km night walk will start at 9 pm from the main Castle of the city to arrive to Valmaggiore and Abbadia ad Isola. Illuminated only by torches, all the participants will walk along the beautiful fields and woods of Via Francigena ending their pilgrimage with a Mass in Santi Salvatore and Cirino church. A more spiritual way to live Christmas, away from consumerism and big dinners.
Abbadia San Salvatore, the city of torches
At the foot of Amiata Mountain there’s a borgo called Abbadia San Salvatore, a small village that gets full of lights on the 24th of December: we’re not talking about Christmas decorations though, but about huge torches lighted up in the city centre at midnight. That’s why this tiny borgo is also called “Città delle Fiaccole”, city of torches. Every street is “decorated” with big piles of woods which are fired up when the time comes. People gather together around them, spending time singing, eating and drinking vin brulé, mulled wine!
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Pienza and the Panforte game
Do you remember that traditional Sienese cake usually eaten at Christmas? We talked about it some time ago, in one of our articles. Well, you have to know that some people don’t have it as a dessert, but use it in competitions instead. Gioco del Panforte is a traditional game held in Pienza and other small villages in the province of Siena, Amiata Mountain and Maremma. The aim of this competition is to throw this typical cake on a wooden table, trying to arrive the furthest possible. You can see this local entertainment in Pienza (Loggiato del Comune) between Christmas and New Years Eve!
That’s the most spectacular event: big bonfires that get fired up on every hill around the village at midnight, illuminating the surroundings. It happens in Gorfigliano, a small borgo in Minucciano Municipality. This celebration is called Natalecci and is held on the 24th of December. When the bell of the church rings, every Nataleccio - these bonfires created with branches of juniper and a chestnut pole - is fired up, creating an evocative and suggestive environment.
The Befana Train
This is not specifically a Christmas event, because it happens on the 6th of January for the Feast of Epiphany, but it’s a nice way to spend the end of your holidays in a different way. A steam train starts from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence and goes to Mugello - San Piero a Sieve to be precise, giving you the possibility to admire the grand landscapes of Valdisieve and the Tuscan hills. Once in San Piero, you can celebrate Epiphany drinking and eating some traditional Italian deliciousness together with Locals.
Don't forget to have a look at our Christmas Tours: there are so many experiences during this period you can take part to! Choose to live an authentic Italian Christmas with us!