Christmas on the Amalfi Coast

December 5, 2013 by

Festivals & Events, Things to Do, Travel Tips

Amalfi's Duomo lit up for Christmas

Amalfi’s Duomo lit up for Christmas. Creative commons photo by Mentnafunangann via Wikimedia.

The Amalfi Coast, unlike most beach-centric destinations, probably isn’t on top of most lists for Christmas vacations. This isn’t a tropical climate we’re talking about, so the weather over the Christmas holidays is likely to be chilly and rainy – not exactly conducive to suntanning – and some of the tourist infrastructure is going to be closed for the off-season. Still, if you’re not looking for a sun-soaked holiday and just want to experience a bit of the Italian Christmas spirit, Christmas on the Amalfi Coast and Naples may be good options to consider.

Throughout Campania, the region encompassing both the Amalfi Coast and Naples, the tradition of nativity scenes as prominent Christmas decor is extremely widespread. You’ll see nativities – called “presepi” in Italian – set up in every church, not to mention most public squares, shop windows, and private homes. This is true of all the towns along the Amalfi Coast as well as Naples. In fact, many of the nativities are permanent year-round fixtures, although they get decorated with lights at Christmas. In Naples, visitors can also browse the shops along Via San Gregorio Armeno, playfully nicknamed “Christmas Alley” for all the artisans making and selling nativity pieces – so even if you’re spending most of your time on the Amalfi Coast, consider taking a day trip from the Amalfi Coast to Naples just to see that (and maybe do some shopping).

Some of the towns along the Amalfi Coast are exceptionally quiet in winter, when some hotels and restaurant shut down, but others have large enough year-round populations that you’ll find a bit of a holiday buzz (as well as hotels and restaurants open for business). The town of Amalfi is a good bet for a homebase, as is the town of Sorrento (not technically part of the Amalfi Coast, but on the same peninsula). Depending on where you are, you may find gaily decorated streets, Christmas markets, fireworks displays on Christmas, and perhaps a procession through town. Churches all over Campania also have midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Remember that Christmas in Italy is very much a family holiday, which means that many attractions, museums, shops, and restaurants are closed (or have shorter hours) around December 24-26. If you’re concerned about having a place to eat dinner, look around in advance so you know what might be open (ask your hotel for some tips, too). And don’t forget to dress accordingly for the weather – winter on the Amalfi Coast can be cold.

- Jessica Spiegel

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