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Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas 2009 In Stresa


It seems that a lot of my readers will be in Stresa during the winter; many over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Lucky, lucky, lucky people... The Italian Christmas season officially begins on December 8, on the Festa dell'Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine Maria , and it ends on January 6, on the day called L'Epifania. Natale in Stresa looks to be wonderful this season, with a very rich program of events planned including concerts, special masses, special markets for food and crafts, and shows for the children. And it wouldn't be Christmas here without traditional bonfires and free hot chocolates and vin brules. Here's a partial list of activities:

Concerts: Throughout the month of December look for many free classical concerts at several of the local churches. Of special note would be the December 7 concert in tiny, centuries old Chiesa San Vittore on Isola Pescatore. Throughout the month there are also several concerts in the parrocchial churches in the villages surrounding Stresa. A wonderful way to hear beautiful music, see some of the smaller churches, and get into the Christmas mood.

Bonfires: A large bonfire will start off the season on the lungolago, in front of the Hotel Astoria, on the evening of December 8, 2009. There will be free hot drinks.

Presepio: The presepi, nativity scenes, will once again be on display all around Isola Bella, as well as in various other places around the city. Here's a link to some beautiful presepi photos from Natale 2008. This year, also look for a very special presepio in the Spazio Luparia gallery, by artist Giuseppe Loda.

Foods: Take advantage of all the free hot chocolates and vin brule to keep warm while walking around Stresa. And of course enjoy some panettone and pandoro. Last year I wrote a bit about the history of these cakes, take a look at the link if you'd like to learn a bit more about them.

It's not brutally cold in Stresa during December. It's just cold enough to enjoy buying scarves in the marketplace and wrap up in them, to sip hot chocolates, to wrap your hands around a warm vin brule, and to really feel the Christmas spirit.

Oh, here's one more thing you can't forget... be sure you sit down inside in one of the bars for a true Italian cioccolata calda; there is nothing like it...


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