The kids finished school yesterday, which means Christmas must be nearly here. It’s late to break up, but they don’t go back to school in Italy until after Epiphany, so this year that means no school until January 9th. But for me personally, December has been one long run up to christmas, mostly focused on things to eat!!!
First was Barga Cioccolata. This nativity scene is made from chocolate, it’s very clever, but I’m not sure it seems quite right to eat the baby jesus! Barga Cioccolata is a 2 day Chocolate festival the first weekend of December and signals for me the start of the festive season, Christmas and chocolate having a rather too strong link in my mind. Barga is a medieval hilltown in the Garfagnana, here is Barga, made out of chocolate!
I’ve seen chocolate salami fairly often but this was the first time I’d seen Chocolate Mortadella. It looks very convincing. It was a bit too sickly sweet though. I did buy quite a few choccy goodies, some for gifts and some to ‘save’ for Christmas. Needless to say none survived long enough to make it to Christmas. I was able to hide them from everyone else, but unfortunately I still knew where they were!
Next on the festive food trail was ‘Il Desco’. This event in showcases speciality foods of the Lucca province and is held over 4 weekends from mid November to mid December at the Real Collegio near San Frediano in Lucca. Each weekend has a theme such as chestnuts or beans, the final weekend when I went was ‘bread and oil’ and things to go with them.
Approaching drums announced the arrival of a sbandieratori group or ‘flagthowers’. It doesn’t matter how often I see these displays here in Tuscany I still find them absolutely enchanting, such skill. They started as a whole group, then the two real stars performed, first with two flags each, then three and finally four flags. and no, they didn’t drop them once!
I’d be embarrassed to admit how many photos I took to try to catch one with the flags mid air! They were much faster than me and my camera.
This last week running up to christmas has meant several shopping trips to Lucca. It has a wonderful atmosphere all year round but seems especially magical at Christmas, doing it festively yet with class.
I’d like this on christmas day, perfectly timed, so I can look out on from warm and snug inside but not have to go out in it! Fingers crossed!
Season’s Greetings, Buon Natale and Happy Holidays!