Wishing You A Very Merry Tuscan Christmas
December in Tuscany is a wonderful time, somehow everything seems just that little bit more ‘Christmassy’ than it does at home. Everyone is full of Christmas cheer and wherever you go there are festivals and celebrations that focus on local winter delicacies like wild boar, yet still manage to encompass everything from gospel music to glass making.
Sagra del Cinghiale: From the 26th of November, until the 8th of December, a town 90 kilometres outside Florence called Suvereto, holds an annual medieval festival. For 15 days the town hosts local events and activities for all, including medieval competitions and shows. However the main protagonist and in many ways the star of the show remains the wild-boar. As a regional and local treasure, you are bound to encounter vendors and restaurants serving this local delicacy, in a variety of different and delicious ways.
Festa di San Nicolo (December 4th):‘Il patrono dei vetrai’, otherwise known as San Nicolo, is the Venetian’s patron saint of glass. In his honour locals hold a procession on the water, recognised as one of the most important religious processions in Italy. After the procession, one can wander the local streets of the city to enjoy the local markets elling selling objects made from glass; especially the famous Murano glass.
Immaculate Conception: December 8th is a national holiday throughout Italy, celebrations and festivities there are and, most importantly, a special mass. The most beautiful takes place in Rome, where a ceremony on the Spanish steps is conducted by the pope who kneels in prayer and places a floral wreath on the statue of the Madonna in Piazza Mignanelli. There are many other beautiful celebrations throughout Italy, and from big cities to small villages you will find locals rejoicing and celebrating with food and music.
Soul Christmas: From December 8th to January 1st the winter version of Trasimeno Blues takes place in all the surrounding towns of Trasimeno. Churches and theatres hold sensational gospel, funk, soul and R&B events bringing a bit of soul and chunks of funk to the traditional Christmas carols.
Midnight Mass (Christmas Eve): Head for the Vatican for mass on Christmas Eve where you will have the opportunity to see the spectacular life-size nativity scene and a 100-foot Christmas tree found in Saint Peter’s Square and let’s not forget the mass service given by the pope himself at exactly midnight!
Christmas: Italians traditionally celebrated Christmas slightly differently, the main ‘gift giving’ was done on Epiphany and instead of Santa Claus they had La Befana (the witch), however now this tradition has been moulded to suit the 21st century. The one thing they put a lot of heart into is Nativity scene’s also known as Presepe and all across Italy you can come across houses filled with beautiful nativity scenes, but staggering ones can be found in the main cities such as Naples, Vatican, Rome, Celleno and many more. Be the judge and decide which one is the most spectacular.
Umbria Jazz: Having hosted the likes of B.B King, James Brown, Phil Collins and George Benson, the annual Jazz festival Umbria Jazz, has seen it all. Beginning on the 28th of December, and ending after the New Year, both night and day concerts, “jazz-battles”, and competitions will get you grooving, not to mention the events, parties and other local Umbrian activities taking place around the festival.