Experience a warmer festive season.

9 Dec 2019

Gruppo UNA

If you want to enjoy a warmer festive season combined with some of the liveliest celebrations around, Sicily is the place to be.

At Gruppo UNA, we'd love to help you spend Christmas in Sicily, and we know you'll have an incredible time. Our company operates a few premium hotels on Italy's southern island, and all of them would make a perfect Christmas hideaway. For example, Palace Catania | UNA Esperienze offers more of an urban vibe.

Palace Catania | UNA Esperienze

To help you create the perfect festive escape, here are some ideas which we're confident will make this Christmas more special than ever:

Visit one of the island's famous Christmas markets

When "Natale" nears, Sicily's town and city centres are transformed into seasonal wonderlands. It's a time for local traders to show off their region's craft specialties, and to make a little money as well. And it's paradise for shoppers who want unique souvenirs (and delicious snacks on the side).

For instance, Catania hosts one of Sicily's finest Christmas markets. Located on the Via Minoriti and Piazzale Sanzio, the market specialises in showing off handmade fabrics and jewellery, with a developing focus on recycled goods, in keeping with current trends. It also has a global feel, with craft creations from Asia, Africa and the Americas all playing a role.

Palermo also hosts a hugely popular market (the Christmas tree decorations are particularly charming), but travellers will find smaller events everywhere they look. That includes Taormina, which is really handy for people who are staying with Gruppo UNA.

Join the celebrations in Taormina - Sicily's Christmas capital

In fact, Taormina offers a lot more than just a vibrant market when Christmas rolls around. Few cities in the world take the festivities as seriously as this historic resort, which sees Christmas as the premier party season - bigger than Easter, high summer, or Carnival.

The centrepiece of the celebrations is Presepe Vivente, which is essentially a large-scale, spectacular retelling of the Nativity story. Over 200 performers don period costumes and create an atmosphere that's as close as possible to the actual events described in the Bible - while almost everyone in Taormina comes to watch. It's a true local community event, but one that foreigners are always welcome to witness.

We've already mentioned the Christmas market, but Taormina's regular shops also come into their own during Christmas season. The Corso Umberto is a shopper's heaven at all times of year, but from the start of December, things go up a notch, with beautiful ceramics, marzipan confectionary, and fine Sicilian wines all coming to the attention of visitors.


See the Christmas lights and enjoy the atmosphere in Catania.

Just like Taormina, Catania offers more than markets as Christmas approaches. The city's 18th century architecture always makes a favourable impression, but it looks even more appealing when covered with Christmas illuminations.

During the day, visitors can tour the Elephant Fountain, the Cathedral of Saint Agatha, the Castello Ursino, or the Teatro Bellini. Then, in the evening, they can see the same sights lit up for the season and grab a few glasses of red wine as they stroll the historic streets of the city. It's a magical experience.

And, by the way, the Teatro Bellini offers a packed program of musical performances, operas, and ballets during December and January. So ask your Gruppo UNA concierge for listings, and they will be happy to make a booking.

Dine on some traditional Sicilian Christmas specialities.

Finally, we have to mention Sicily's seasonal gastronomy. As always with Italian destinations, Sicilians are serious about their food and drink, and they love to connect specific foods with special occasions.

One popular treat that is guaranteed to satisfy is Riso di Natale (Christmas risotto), which is a kind of rice pie, stuffed with various meats. It's often used as a starter to prepare for main dishes which will often involve a lot of seafood. In fact, many Sicilians only eat seafood on Christmas Eve, leaving meat for the day after. Try the salted cod with tomato, capers, and pepper sauce (Pesce stocco a' ghiotta) for a distinctive Christmas Eve main.

But mains aren't always the star of the show. That honour often falls to buccellato, a rounded fruit-filled cake which is Sicily's answer to Christmas Pudding. After you've tried that, you may not want to go back.

Sicily is a land of great tastes, Christmas markets, cultural delights, and community celebrations. So make a booking with Gruppo UNA to enjoy Sicily at Christmas. We'll make you as comfortable as possible, and help you discover everything the island has to offer.