For the three weeks before Christmas -- until December 24th -- Campo Santo Stefano is transformed into a Christmas Village, entirely filled with craftsmen and food producers, whose displays are housed in 30 little wooden cabins. The square is lined with a backdrop picturing Venetian palaces, giving the whole scene a festival atmosphere.
Sponsored by the Artisan Association, the market features Christmas ornaments and decorations of Murano glass, traditional carnival masks, ceramics, jewelry, marbled paper and other Venetian craft specialties.
Murano glass is also used in jewelry, alone or worked into designs with silver and gold. Carnival masks can be as simple as the red, gold and black eye masks or elaborate creations from the studios of all the town.
One section of the Campo San Stefano market is devoted to Italian specialty foods – traditional cakes and sweets, fine olive oils, vintage balsamic vinegars and other locally made gourmet products fill the booths. Look for creamy white almond-studded nougat, fruit-filled panetone from nearby Verona, bags of specialty pastas, tiny biscotti, dried porcini mushrooms, candied chestnuts and delicacies made with precious white truffles from Alba.
The market's festive atmosphere is heightened by musicians, concerts and entertainment, with some programs designed especially for children. Along with a shopping venue, the Christmas Market is a gathering place where Venetians and travelers mingle. Located in the Sestiere of Dorsoduro, the square adjoins the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, not far from Gallerie dell'Accademia, and is an easy walk from San Marco via the Accademia Bridge across the Grand Canal.