Chritmas market, Livigno, Italy

There is a typical tradition of the Alps for the Christmas period that are the famous markets. One of the most known and visited is that one of Livigno where each year a village of wooden houses is set up near the site of the church of Santa Maria Nascente, it is right at the entrance of the pedestrian area. Each house has several gift options for Christmas time, the most typical objects are those in wood, you can buy even statuettes for your creche directly to craftsmen. The market also has a part where you can try different gastronomic products of the region such as apple fritters, hot wine, roasted chestnuts, typical Valtellina desserts, etc. And of course, Santa Claus is present.

Tips

This year, the market is open from 6th to 23rd December. Check the schedule on their website as they are variable.
You can arrive by car or train, but also with several trips provided by tourism agencies from different cities; sometimes these are day trips, sometimes you can do a 3-4 day to visit the market, skiing, going to the spa or take a short vacation.

Koroni Beach, Kefalonia, Greece

Koroni Beach is in Kefalonia (the largest island of the Ionian Sea). It’s a beautiful sandy cove that lies around the natural bay of Mounda and it’s 22 km east of Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia. It’s also very near Skala too. Koroni is a nice sandy beach surrounded by tall steep cliffs and lush vegetation. It used to be an important haven for the turtles but the clay from the cliffs has made the sand quite dense, creating an inhospitable environment for these small creatures. Today, the beach is quite developed with sunbeds and umbrellas but it remains still a quiet place where you won’t find a massive tourism. To arrive to the beach, you have a track path from Skala or Mavratas. It’s a very good place to swim, lay under the sun and relax. The area offers some spots where you will have very nice panoramic views of the cape and the blue horizon.

Tips

If you like sunsets, you are at the good place. Stay there and you’ll have one of the best you have ever seen. Don’t forget your camera.
Another beautiful villages to visit near Koroni Beach are Assos, Argostoli and Sami.
Thiromnas is a nice village to go to eat.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Funchal is the capital of the island of Madeira and the autonomous region of Madeira with the islands of the archipelago. It is the only major city on the island. It is a port of call with its beautiful bay and is surrounded by mountains, it became mainly a destination for cruises. It owes its name to the fennel (‘funcho’ in Portuguese), it grew in abundance at this location when the island was discovered. Along the narrow streets of the old centre, the stands of fruits, parks and cobblestone squares, lined discrete palaces and baroque churches, remind the richness of Portuguese heritage. Funchal’s attractions can be visited on foot as the Sé Cathedral which is one of the monuments of style Manueline which is still on foot with its cedar inlaid ivory and gilt ceiling, fort São Lourenço, Columbus Museum, Santa Catarina Park, the residence of the Governor, the town square, the Jesuit college with its baroque church with a pretty facade of black lava enhanced marble, the episcopal Palace (18th century), which houses a Museum of art sacred as also other parks, museums and churches. The fortress of São Tiago is one of the most colorful corners of the old town, now it is the Museum of Contemporary Art of Funchal. You can also find an elegant restaurant inside.

Tips

Don’t miss the ‘Dos Lavradores’ market, you can buy a wide variety of exotic flowers, local crafts, tropical fruits, vegetables and fresh fish.
On the promenade by the sea to the port, you will have beautiful views of the coastal area and you will find several cafés near the marina to enjoy good traditional coffee.
In the east of Funchal, you will find the fishing village with its narrow cobbled streets which many bars and popular fish restaurants.
If you like plants, visit the botanical gardens, a fantastic garden with more than 2,000 species from around the world. It is 3 km from the town, at 300 m altitude. The discovery of the surrounding residential area is almost a must if you go there on your own. Many lookouts provide beautiful views of the city. Here you will find benches, tables, for a little rest because the elevation of the park is 100 m and it can be tiring with hot weather.