Il Pontemarks the start of the festive season in Milan. So make sure to book your flights now so as not to miss out!
In a tradition unique to Milan, come 7thDecember, the city will be celebrating its patron saint with the feast of Sant’Ambrogio. The long weekend of festivities – known as il ponte– kicks off with a special mass at the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, as well as the snappily-titled Fiera Degli Oh Bej, Oh Bejmarket held in the grounds of Milan's castle,Castello Sforzesco.
"Oh Bej! Oh Bej!" means "Oh beautiful, Oh beautiful" in Milanese dialect, and the name is said to come from the gasps of delight made by the children as they saw the gifts that they’d received from Pope Pius IV, Gianetto Castiglioni in 1510.
Today’s street market is sure to bring the same reaction, with the vast array of stalls selling gastronomical goodies like firunatt(long necklace strings of roast chestnuts), mulled wine and castagnacciocake filled with chestnuts, raisins and pine nuts, or plenty of stocking fillers and crafted goods.
To keep in the festive spirit, Milan’s Christmas markets then kick off from 11thDecember until 6thJanuary, popping up all over the city, each with their own atmosphere, varying wares on sale and activities on offer like ice skating. At the duomo, you’ll find the city’s majestic Christmas tree (last year’s measured a whopping 30 metres high!), and as you wonder the streets, you’ll witness the city in all its splendour, dressed to the nines covered in illuminations. And of course, don’t forget to stop off at Pasticceria Marchesi, for mouthwatering sweets and pastries, and their legendary Christmas panettone which they’ve been selling since 1824.