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Friday, December 30, 2011

Santas In Stresa



Talk about a Christmas vacation! I've experienced Natale, Christmas, so many times in the past two weeks. In four large Italian cities and several smaller places too.

There was the rush of shoppers in the center of  sophisticated Milano, where even Santa was doing his shopping at the Galleria:





continued...


And a tree covered with fleur-de-lys, next to medieval alleys, and an understated creche, all outside the Duomo in Firenze.




There was overwhelming splendor in Roma:







And quiet, snow-covered streets strung with lights, all the way up in Leukerbad, in the Swiss Alps.



And, there was Stresa! Here the streets are also strung with lights, and here there were nativity scenes and markets and music and midnight masses.



And on this particular night, a few nights before Christmas eve, there were santas. Many santas. On this cold night, all throughout the town, tables were set up against walls and outside restaurants. Each offering a different kind of food, or wine, or pastries. To keep strollers warm, fires had been lit in the centers of chopped open tree trunks. As beautiful as they were warming.


The santas were playing jazz music, first in one location, then moving to another spot, and so on. We walked around, following them a bit, leaving them only to meet up with them again on a different street corner. Then we took refuge inside Buscion, where Massimo was busy; every table was taken. When a spot opened for us, on my favorite barrel table, we enjoyed wines and bits of meats and cheeses.


I wish I had more, and better, photos of these guys! Their spirit was exuberant and infectious and they drew a small crowd wherever they went. 




It wasn't Firenze or Rome. It wasn't for tourists. It was only for Stresa, and for her residents; to bring them outside and together to celebrate and rejoice, and while all my other Natale visits this winter may have been bigger or more impressive, I was oh so happy to have been in Stresa to see the santas.


Hoping that each of you has had a wonderful holiday, and wishing you tante belle cose, many beautiful things, in the new year. 
See you in 2012!


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