The days are getting shorter, the weather chillier, Christmas lights are starting to appear in the streets and Florence and Tuscany are hosting many events to celebrate the festive season. The festivities really get going on December 8, a national holiday to celebrate the Immaculate Conception.
Christmas fairs, markets and festivals
German Market: Warm up with an apple strudel and a steaming mug of mulled wine, and buy some handmade gifts from all over Europe. November 28-December 16, piazza Santa Croce, Florence, www.vetrina-toscana.it. AILO: The annual Christmas Bazaar held by the American International League of Florence, supporting charities across the city. December 8, 10am-5pm, Le Pagliere, viale Machiavelli 24, Florence, www.ailoflorence.org. FILE: Gourmet products and gift ideas, with proceeds going toward FILE's palliative care support. December 8, 10am-7pm, Palazzo Corsini, lungarno Corsini 8, Florence, www.leniterapia.it. Christmas at the Palazzo: A trade show of Christmas gifts in Empoli with free admission. December 14 - 16, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Empoli, Tel. 057/122466 or 339/2908430. Festival of Fusigno: Welcome in Christmas Day by eating sausages and drinking local wine round a huge bonfire in the centre of Londa. Evening of December 24, www.comune.londa.fi.it
Palazzo Strozzi: An afternoon for the family in the courtyard (free) and buildings (ticketed) of Palazzo Strozzi, piazza Strozzi, Florence, December 8, 3-6pm, www.palazzostrozzi.org. Santa by boat: On December 22 and 24 Father Christmas will arrive in Florence by boat (on the Arno, between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alla Grazie) to give Christmas greetings to the Florentines, www.comune.fi.it. Santa's Village: Children will meet faries, elves and even Father Christmas himself in the centre of Camaiore, December 8 - January 6, www.comune.camaiore.lu.it. Winter Park: Ice skating on a large rink (800 square metres) next to the Obihall with a real snow track for skiing and snowboarding. There will also be a bar, restaurant, exhibition stands and entertainment for children. December 1 - January 27, Obihall, Lungarno Aldo Moro, Florence, www.firenzewinterpark.it. Fiabesque: The whole town of Peccioli transforms into a magical world of fairy tales with street games, performers, dance and workshops and, on January 5, Cartoon Night, dedicated to animated cartoons. Centre of Peccioli, December 26, 29, 30 and January 5-6, www.fiabesque.org.
Orchestra della Toscana: Together with the choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a Christmas concert with music by Weber and Mendelssohn at Teatro Verdi in Florence on December 23 (5pm, via Ghibellina 101), and in Pisa, Piombino, Livorno, Figline Valdarno and Poggibonsi on December 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 respectively. See www.orchestradellatoscana.it. Xmas in Jazz: Including Gershwin's An American in Paris and Eric Whitacre's October among others. December 23, 9pm, Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola 18, Florence, www.filarmonicarossini.it. Gospel choir: The forty-strong choir ‘The Pilgrims' will fuse voice and music with spiritual and gospel pieces. Proceeds will be donated to the Oncology Operative Unit of Pescia. Teatro Pacini, Pescia (PT), December 22, 9pm, Tel. 339/7787677, email@example.com.
Christmas in the World: A collection of over a thousand nativity scenes from all over the world, displayed in San Giovanni Valdarno's Basilica di Maria Santissima delle Grazie (piazza Masaccio). December 8-January 6, 2013, www.natalenelmondo.it. Other towns known for their nativity scenes displayed in their historic centres are Palazzuolo sul Senio, Cerreto Guidi, San Godenzo, Calenzano and Cigoli (most of them remain at least until January 6).
Several towns put on re-enactments of the Christmas story, involving hundreds of residents and animals, and large parts of the historic centres, and bringing to life the angels, shepherds, oxen, Wise Men and, of course, the magical manger scene. Towns hosting these so-called ‘living nativity scenes' include Casole d'Elsa (December 26, 29 and 30, www.casole.it), Rosignano Maritime (December 24, www.comune.rosignano.livorno.it), Lari (December 26, www.prolocolari.it), Barga (December 23, www.comune.barga.lu.it), Ceretto Guidi (December 23, www.comune.cerreto-guidi.fi.it) and Castiglion Fiorentino (December 23, www.prolococastiglionfiorentino.it).
This article is from the marvelous English paper The Florentine.
By Rose Mackworth-Young (issue no. 173/2012 / November 22, 2012)