There’s something going on in Milan all year round – but the best time to discover Italy’s trendiest city is over Christmas.
The city is turning into a beautiful Christmas setting. Starting from November, the lights are installed and the first Christmas spirit appears. Milan turns into a magical place during the Christmas season, as former student ambassador Chiara has already said nothing has changed in 2021. Despite the worldwide Corona pandemic, the lights shine all the brighter. The romantic and exceptional Christmas decorations make the city shine in all its glory. Boutiques, stores and streets are decorated for Christmas and make not only the Italians but also us rave about the many beautiful things in life.
But what is so special about Christmas in Milan?
We give you five tips about the most important hot spots, events and special features for the Christmas season in Milan:
1.The Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Market
Christmas officially begins in Milan on December 7, on the day of Sant’Ambrogio, the city’s patron saint. For 500 years, the Milanese have taken four days off to ring in Christmas properly. The name of the market „Oh Bej!“ means in Milanese dialect as much as „How Beautiful!“ and refers to the joyful reactions of children when they see the beautiful gifts. Traditionally celebrated at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, today the Christmas market is located at Castello Sforzesco, which offers more space for the many sweets, pastries and, of course, panettone. Here you can find gifts for every budget: artfully printed books, handmade toys, beautiful flower arrangements, handcrafts made of copper, brass and wood, as well as the traditional chains made of smoked chestnuts.
2. Doumo di Milano
The Duomo is Milan’s pride and joy and all the more beautiful during the reflective Christmas season. From the Cathedral Terrace you have a fabulous view over Milan – the many Christmas lights and obviously the Christmas market. There is, of course, also the possibility to attend the Midnight Mass in the Cathedral. This begins on December 24 at 11:30 pm with the Archbishop. (To get a seat, it is recommended to be there at least two hours before.)
3. The Christmas market in Piazza Duomo
A magical place to visit. Over Christmas, a 30-meter-high Christmas tree decorates Piazza Duomo, surrounded by the stalls of the Mercantino Natale, full of regional specialties and Christmas souvenirs. (1 December to 6 January from Piazza del Duomo to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, open every day from 8:30 am to 21:30 pm.)
4. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Right next door shines the Gallery, named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. Built in the second half of the nineteenth century, it is one of the oldest shopping centers in the world. Under the glass domes of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a 12-meter-high Swarovski tree adds a magical touch to the noble Art Nouveau interior. At this time, the many luxury stores shine once again in a warm ambience with a luxurious christmas feeling.
5. Ice skating at the Piazza Gae Aulenti
Ice skating is simply part of Christmas. Milan has a wide range of ice rinks (Darsena, Villaggio delle Meraviglie, Bagni Misteriosi). At the Gae Aulenti, young and old can skate between noble skyscrapers and artistic holiday decorations. A plus: you can easily order the equipment like the skates at the cash desk. Opening hours go from November 14 to February 9 from 10 am to 24 pm.
Finally, the famous Panettone:
What would Italy be without its Panettone? As the final highlight, we explain the history of the most famous Italian Christmas dessert, the Panettone.
Legend says that the Panettone was born in Milan by a boy from the scullery in the service of Ludovico il Moro. The „Pan de Toni“ has been made and consumed throughout Italy for centuries and is a Christmas must for all Milanese. Nowadays it is available in many different versions, filled with chocolate chips or pistachio cream or even as a raw version, the so-called Pandoro.
Merry christmas and a happy new year from Katharina and Flurina!