We recently took a few days to explore a bit outside of Florence. In researching where to go, Venice was at the top of our list, as well as the mountains. Northern Italy provides the opportunity of seeing the Dolomites or the Italian Alps. After researching destinations, Bolzano quickly rose to the top. It made the most sense cost and route wise and provided us with a peek into the Dolomites. So we booked a cheap, Rick Steves' recommended hotel and we were on our way. I must say, we chose well. The perfect blend of mountain and city, Italian and German. Complete with a Christmas market and local arts/crafts market, the latter of which I am going to share with you now. More to come on the rest of our Bolzano stay soon.
The Christmas market has all the charm. Festive booths lined with boughs of evergreen and lights. Red and white striped roofs bringing to mind every Christmas movie you have ever seen. Booths offered Christmas ornaments, fuzzy slippers, steaming hot chocolate (just melted chocolate in a cup), apple strudel, and mulled wine. There was even a small carousel, train, and shetland pony rides. Certainly festive and something to see. We definitely indulged in a few treats in our couple days in Bolzano. But past the Christmas market, a few blocks north and east from Piazza Walther you would find a much smaller artisan market. Not as fancy or festive. There were no ponies or snacks. No melted chocolate. Just booths full of the masterpieces created by local artisans.
Gold, silver, and leather crafted by hand into jewelry. Sculptures made of tiny bits of scrap metal in discarded cans. Hand dipped candles next to homemade soap. Clothing made by hand to be multi-functional. Leather shoes, wallets, and belts. Clocks and silverware reworked into one-of-a-kind jewelry. Knitted hats and scarves next to beaded necklaces. Stall after stall of items made by the artisans working the booths. It is easy to see their love for their craft in the way they talk about it with those visiting. Many sat between the booths hammering away at their next and latest creation. Never stopping, always creating.
Behind the ordinary booths were people creating something new. Sharing their art with the world. Life isn't always about the flashy lights and perfect exterior. It isn't about the massive number of followers or visitors in this case. More often than not, it is about the heart of a craft. An artist doing what they love and offering something beautiful to the world. Don't get me wrong, I love the charm of the Christmas market, but just as much, maybe more, I love the devoted artists braving the cold to share their creation. I found myself returning more than once to walk through the stalls to soak in all the creativity and passion. I love creating and sharing with the world. If I can offer something beautiful and unique to the world, just like these artisans, I would consider myself lucky.
Lots of editing from our latest adventure. Updates and recaps coming your way soon! Sorry for the iPhone pictures, most craft markets and artists don't want people taking pictures up close of their merchandise. Didn't want to offend anyone!