Like every city, Genoa also renews its tradition every year. The San Nicola Market is a charity event that was held in 1986 for the first time and then became a Christmas fixture.
It was held in Piazza Piccapietra for many years, but for this winter 2018 you will find it in the de-lightful Piazza Sarzano, in the heart of the “old city”. Between fundraisers and charities, the Mer-catino sets out more than a dozen stalls. The transparent glass of the lamps, the scent of spices, the taste of traditional local pastries – and much more. Many craftsmen set up their stalls here, providing you with endless inspiration for more special gifts. Jewellers, puppeteers, ceramists and binders: so many ancient crafts are brought back for the occasion in the San Nicola Market.
There could of course be no Christmas market without wine, songs and a Christmas atmosphere! The Mercatino also lights up the square for concerts and daily shows. Prepare to see goats and rams in the inner square too, in accordance with popular tradition. You can also experience a Genoese Christmas further inland, with the Living Nativity Scene of Pentema, a town in the Province of Genoa. The countryside that spreads over hills and mountains acts as a natural “barrier” between the Ligurian capital and the regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, and can feel harsh and timeless. This increases its special appeal.
Ligurian and Genoese cuisine are an especially delicious reason to visit this land during the Christ-mas period. A complicated and colourful dish, the “Cappon Magro” is traditionally prepared in Easter. Yet nowadays Cappon Magro has definitely become part of a classic Genoese menu. A dif-ficult seafood and vegetable dish, it brings an explosion of colours to a set table, with a green sauce covering prawns, purple turnips and eggs.
As for the Christmas meal, we can’t possibly miss having at least a taste of the “Cima genovese”, which, like the Cappon Magro, is a dish originally intended for using up leftovers. As with many Mediterranean cuisines, we must look to a place’s history to find the reasons for recipes. The crews of merchant ships, who stayed out to sea for long periods of time, often came up with peculiar dish-es, derived from combining whatever was left over in the hold. The Cima, therefore, a symbol of Genoese gastronomy, tells the tale of the city’s culture through a large piece of veal belly, sewed into a pocket and stuffed with eggs, vegetables, cheese and peas. Boiled and served in slices, it be-comes a sort of intermezzo between an appetizer and a first course, although it can also be enjoyed as a main dish. In any case, the King of the meal arrives at the end. The Genoese Pandolce (sweet bread) will tell you all about the area’s culinary culture in its own candied fruit and raisins way.