Buon Natale

Every year the city of Florence offers a host of festive holiday events to celebrate Christmas and the arrival of the New Year. In Italy, the holiday season officially begins on December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, after which parishes and churches unveil their elaborate nativity scenes, also known as presepi. A stroll through the city centre reveals figurines, handmade especially for presepi by local artisans both in the city and out of town.

Certain Christmas events have become bona fide Florentine traditions. The Heidelberg Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce until December 16 is a place to meander among 40 wooden stalls filled with German Christmas tree decorations, nativity figurines, handmade toys, traditional Bunzlau ceramics, food and drink, including spiced wines, beers, wurst and strudel, along with Christmas confectionary like Pfefferkuchen (peppery biscuits), the special Heidelbergl Lebkuchen (honey biscuits) and Dresdner Stollen (sweet raisin bread filled with marzipan). A variety of cultural activities, performances, and of course, a visit from Santa Claus, add to the Christmas atmosphere. Hard to miss is Florence’s own giant Christmas tree, adorned with over 16,000 lights, on display through January 7 in Piazza della Repubblica. In addition, Florence’s ice rink returns. Until January 13, skaters can glide and spin in Parterre’s Piazza della Liberta every day from 9am to 11:30pm.

What would the holiday season be without music? The city has organized over 30 concerts for every taste. Enjoy an opportunity to hear some of Italy’s best musicians play classical, sacred and contemporary music in museums, squares, churches, libraries and theatres throughout the city, through January 6.

This is Christmas in Florence from the The Florentine, the wonderful paper which acts as the link between my two lives. Visit www.theflorentine.it