While summer travel draws crowds to Italy with warm weather and outdoor activities, winter vacations can be magical with holiday celebrations, winter activities and fewer tourists. Christmas in Italy is just as big if not bigger than in the United States.
For Americans the Thanksgiving Holiday normally centers around food and football. The traditional Thanksgiving basics of Roasted Turkey and pumpkin pie are found on most tables that day. While Italians do not typically celebrate Thanksgiving as Americans do, there are many religious holidays La Festa del Ringraziamento (Festival of Thanks) celebrated throughout the year.
The first time I saw Venice it was Carnival. Like an aristocratic lady - aware of her opulent beauty - Venice that year too donned her boldest and most luxurious attire, with the intention of leaving an even more indelible memory into whoever was lucky enough to behold her.
Did you know that Milan has a special day for setting up Christmas decorations? While the rest of the world does it somewhere in late November or early December, northern Italians have the feast of Saint Ambrose, when they pull out Santa, garlands and other winter toys from their dusty boxes. Each year on December 7, Milan’s main Christmas tree switches on along with other thousands of cozy city Christmas lights and tiny home nativity scenes (presepe) that every Italian family gets ready for the Eve.
Only few days are left before the Santa Pasqua! This Sunday our small Italy and the whole Christian world will celebrate the great festivity in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each involved country has its special recipes for the occasion.
CHRISTMAS IN MILAN
Stunning 12 meters high Christmas tree decorated with thousands of lights and fineries, and crowned with a precious silver star-shaped tip magically appeared about a week ago in the heart Milan. Babbo Natale, the Italian brother of Santa Clause, put this sparkling marvel right in center of the renewed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in front of Swarovski boutique.
Italians love to talk about food. Men and women alike. At some point in our conversation, whether we’re in Beijing or on an African Safari, either with friends or mere acquaintances, food becomes the main topic, and we engage on lengthy and detailed description on how to make a dish, or nostalgic talks on how much we miss our food back ...
On January 6 we celebrate the Epiphany, a Christian celebration that symbolizes the three Kings’ arrival to the Baby Jesus’ manger, and that only recently has been officially recognized as a national holiday. But also and above all, this day has a folkloristic and typically Italian aspect as we celebrate the arrival of the Befana, an extra opportunity for children to receive more presents and an extra day off for the adults.
I Mercatini di Natale (Christmas Markets) are a big tradition in Europe and Italy hosts many of those in either big cities and small villages. They may last for a couple of days to a month or even go on after Epiphany on January 6th.