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Nov 28, 2013

Christmas shopping in Siena

The market’s stalls are set up in front of the beautiful Palazzo pubblico.
Tuscany’s unique artisan and gastronomical products can be found here.
Seen here proudly standing in the background: the famous Torre del Mangia.
In the evening, the Piazza shines with lights of amber, ocre and gold. ©Palazzo Ravizza

“Mummy, are we going back to the Christmas market this year? You know the one where the houses are all yellow and orange?”

Her bright eyes filled with hope and anticipation, my daughter was looking at me, waiting for the answer…

As some of you, dear readers, may remember, I invited you a few months ago to the large public square in Siena called the Piazza del Campo, to attend the annual Palio di Siena, a famous and highly picturesque horse race.

This week, we’re going back to this Piazza del Campo, but to immerse ourselves in something quite different: the Mercato nel Campo, Siena’s lively and lovely year-end market. The houses which my daughter says are yellow and orange are actually the facades of the beautiful buildings surrounding the piazza. At night, when all the lights are on, these facades attire themselves in the warm hues of amber, ocre and gold. The magic atmosphere it creates makes you travel back in time to the Italian Renaissance.

The Mercato nel Campo only lasts two days and is usually held on the first weekend of December. It has close to 150 stalls selling some of Italy’s finest food and artisan products. Two or three years ago, I did most of my Christmas shopping there. I bought freshly pressed extra virgin oil for my sister, crafted wooden toys for the kids, and a ton of the delicious  ricciarelli  for some of my friends and relatives. Typically consumed at Christmas, ricciarelli  are biscuits made of almonds, honey, sugar and egg whites. Legend has it that they were introduced in Siena in the 14th century by the feudal lord Ricciardetto della Gherardesca upon his return from the Crusades.

I also bought, if I remember correctly, some fine hand-painted tiles and genuine Tuscan pottery. Everything is genuine and local there, anyway. And you are spoilt for choice without having to hear a hundred times the same old Christmas jingles from one stall to the other.

Your bags are now filled with gifts but your stomach is painfully empty? Then I suggest you go to the Tre Cristi, a little gem located in the giraffa neighbourhood of Siena, and which has been serving exquisite food since 1830! Here is the link to their website:

This year, the Mercato nel Campo will be held on November 30th and December 1st (Saturday and Sunday). Yes, I  know, very short notice…


Katharina's Italy

Fun with kids, Shopping, Tuscany