How does Italy celebrate Christmas

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How does Italy celebrate Christmas?
In one of the most beautiful places in the world, Christmas is an important time to spend with friends and family, whilst sampling the local delicacies such as Cartellate  and Pettole a pastry covered with honey or “vincotto”. For sure will this be an unusual Christmas for everyone but we like to reconfirm the traditions of Christmas in Puglia and start fantasizing about how beautiful Christmas will be next year!

Christmas in Puglia

Puglia is a TOP destination especially in Summer, but thanks to the mild temperatures it is also worth a visit during the winter. The Christmas period is perfect for enjoying the authentic Christmas spirit whilst enjoying the sunny days. In what has recently been defined by National Graphic as the most beautiful region in the world, Christmas still has the ancient tradition of family lunches and traditional sweets, passed down through the generations. Every year many events take place in the magical scenery of the ancient Apulian villages.


Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, lights and markets

Every year Polignano a Mare dresses up with the same lights that made Salerno famous and its Abbey of San Vito is also known as “crib on the winter sea”. Monopoli’s Christmas calendar boasts numerous events and in this splendid seaside town the Castle of Charles V is illuminated with the theme of the nativity. The historical fair of Santa Lucia is certainly not to be missed on the 13th December and the landing of the Madonna della Madia on the eve of the 16th December, which is the most important moment of the year for the local Monopolitans, who always attend with pride and passion.

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Christmas in Puglia among the trulli

The Christmas markets are definitely worth a visit as well as taking a visit to Alberobello and admiring the illuminated cones, which will leave you breathless for their uniqueness and charm. The famous trulli town also serves as a backdrop for the splendid nativity scene, which the ancient crafts of the local artisans are displayed amongst the alleys of the historical centre and the trulli.


Christmas in Puglia: the living nativity scenes

Take a trip over to Pezze di Greco near Fasano where you will see the oldest living nativity scene, the comet that illuminates the promontory of Monte Rivolta della Selva di Fasano is also enchanting. In the province of Lecce you can see one of the largest nativity scenes in Italy in Tricase, where it is transformed into the Bethlehem of 2000 years ago. The realistic reconstruction of the ancient city of Palestine has about fifty scenes in which 200 figures alternate between Salento crafts and many scenes of daily life. In Lecce, the splendid Baroque city, markets and exhibitions animate the streets of the center until January 6th and it is also possible to see the Puppet Fair, an exhibition of Christmas objects made with pietra leccese (local stone).


Christmas in Puglia: typical sweets

The typical cartellate, covered with abundant honey (or sugar or vincotto), will be your  cuddle on a day spent with the people you love, walking around markets and living nativities or simply in the warmth of your own home.
This year it will not be possible to buy cartellate or pettole at the fairs but by following the recipes  you can bring a bit of Puglia’s Christmas to your home as well, waiting to experience it in person next year.


The Cartellate 


Ingredients for about 28 cartellate


    • 500 grams of flour 00
    • 50 grams of olive oil
    • 200 ml of sweet white wine
    • Zest of one orange and one lemon
    • 300 grams of honey
    • Juice of an orange
    • Peanut oil for frying



Heat the olive oil in a saucepan with the lemon and orange zest and fry for a few minutes. Turn off and let cool. Place the flour in a heap and add the citrus-flavored olive oil, knead briefly, then add the wine. Work for a long time until you get a smooth and homogeneous mixture. Roll out the dough into a sheet of about 3 mm and cut it with the serrated wheel cutter into 4cm wide and 40cm long strips. At this point, fold a strip in half lengthwise and, starting from one end, pinch the dough at regular distance of about 3-4 cm, so as to form many pockets. Roll the strip on itself, joining the walls of the various pockets together so that they remain open. Seal the final end well. Fry the cartellate in plenty of hot peanut oil for a couple of minutes, turning them when golden. Drain them on kitchen paper. Heat the honey in a saucepan with the orange juice, without letting it boil. Dip the cartellate in honey until it is covered.


    • 500 grams of flour
    • 400 grams of water
    • 10 gr of fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon of dry yeast
    • 1 teaspoon of Extra virgin olive oil
    • a teaspoon of salt
    • 1 liter of oil for frying



First of all, prepare the dough in a bowl, mix the flour with dry yeast (if you use the fresh one, dissolve it in 1 tablespoon of water taken from the total) and salt. Then make a hole in the center and add water and oil. Stir with a spoon or fork until you get a soft batter.

Let rise in a temperate place about 26 - 28 degrees (oven off with light on) for about 2 hours until the dough has tripled in volume: form little balls with a little quantity of dough and fry in a high-sided saucepan filled with hot oil. Drain a few seconds and immediately roll in granulated sugar. Proceed in this way until the dough is finished.

Dream your next holiday in Puglia!

Foto - Dooid