What to do in December and during the Holidays in Cortona

How is Christmas in Cortona like? In a few words, magical and traditional.
In Italy, the traditional Christmas Holidays Season starts on December 8th, when we celebrate the Virgin Mary (feast of the Immaculate Conception). This is the day when families are supposed to gather together and decorate their Christmas tree. On the same day, traditionally, all lights and decorations on the streets go on and embellish our towns. However, lately, the Holiday season has been expanding and starting since the middle-end of November. Which means you can see lights on far in advance almost everywhere and enjoy the Christmas spirit even before December!

Christmas events in Cortona for 2019

Cortona makes no exception to the tradition. This year the tree (a true one, cut in the mountains above the town) will be on since December the 6th. On the same day, the kids from the local school will be singing and playing Christmas songs and poems on the town hall steps.
On December 8, hundreds of balloons will be launched in PIazza della Repubblica, for beautiful pictures and a dreamy playful atmosphere. Also on the same day, check the wine tasting under the loggiato of the Theater, for a taste of Cortona DOC wines new vintages and producers.
Other events this year include choir concerts at San Domenico Church, bagpipers and fake snow on the streets (on December 15 and 22). All events will be mostly on Saturdays and Sundays, so check the Comune’s calendar for more info on the schedule: LINK
For the little ones there will be the “house of Babbo Natale” (Santa Claus in Italian is a “babbo”, meaning father, especially in Tuscany) at Palazzo Ferretti on Via Nazionale. Next to the hourse, you can also see a small representation of the nativity. This is part of a bigger living nativity scene that is traditionally organized in the nearby town of Pietraia. People dress up in roman-style clothes and represent the nativity of Jesus between shepherds and traditional craft workshops. This year, the living nativity scene in Pietraia will be only playing on December 25-26-29 and January 1 and 6. Finally, from the events calendar, don’t miss the Gospel concert at Teatro Signorelli on December 27 (tickets 8-13 €).

Envoy the atmosphere and the Holidays in Cortona

My advice to enjoy Christmas in Cortona is simply to take a walk during the weekend, mingle with locals and enjoy the Christmas spirit and shopping. Christmas in Cortona is always magical. The town dressed up in lights is more beautiful than ever and shops get festive and decorated. There is also a small market with wooden stalls built in Piazza Signorelli and Piazza della Repubblica, selling craft objects, sweets and local food products.
For New Year’s eve, there is a big party in Piazza Della Repubblica, with a DJ playing on the town hall steps until 2 or 3 in the morning. New this year, a more exclusive dinner party will be also held in the beautiful location of Signorelli Theater. Last but not least, to inaugurate the new year, on January the 1st a great breakfast made by local chefs will be offered at the MAEC museum. It is a wonderful event but it gets sold out very quickly so be sure to get your ticket in advance (see here).
Other events and things to do in the nearby in December:

  • Christmas in Arezzo (beautiful lighting and markets!)
  • Christmas in Montepulciano
  • China Legends exhibition at Valdichiana Outlet Village
  • Guided tours in Cortona
    • The MAEC museum organizes a few workshops for kids and a shuttle bus with guided tours to the Etruscan tombs in Camucia and to Lucignano and Monte San Savino museums (December 29 and January 5).
    • Omnia guides association organizes a guided tour of “Secret Cortona” (December 21), and a tour of the Fortezza including a wine and olive oil tasting (December 28 and January 4).
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