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Buon Natale, Joyex Noel and Felice Anno!

La Bafana has come and gone and the Italian holiday season is now officially over.  Monday, 6 January, was an Italian holiday (Epiphany) with banks and post offices closed.  Their holiday break over, the children returned to school yesterday.  The holiday decorations in homes are being boxed up and stored away until next Natale.  In Piazza Aringo, Babbo Natale is nowhere to be found,  the Christmas market stands are closed and waiting to be dismantled, the donkeys are taking a well-deserved rest after carrying an untold number of delighted children through the piazzas.  The ice rink has started to melt, the speakers that had ensured a festive mood with holiday music (oddly mostly in English) are now silent, and the holiday decorations in the piazzas and adjacent streets are being removed.  The shops have changed their holiday displays and one of my favorite Italian words – SALDI – is now plastered on every window.  Tis the season to shop and blog!

We spent a very good week in Rome in early December enjoying the sights and their famous Christmas market, decorations and some good food.  From there we took a quick one-day trip to Florence to see their holiday decorations and their international Christmas market.  When we left for Rome on 6 December, Ascoli was just putting up their decorations, there were almost no stores with holiday displays in the windows and few places you could even purchase holiday decorations.  As I mentioned in another post, the holiday season begins in Italy on 8 December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and in Ascoli that tradition holds.  When we returned late on the 13th, Ascoli had become an even more magical place than usual.  I know I’m partial but, in all honesty, Ascoli at Christmas is way more beautiful in every way than Rome or Florence.  In fairness to Rome and Florence, in this case size does matter, they are too large and spread out to achieve the intimate fairytale quality of Ascoli no matter how hard they try.  One night after walking around our town with the lights, music, market, ice rink, donkey rides and train – I told Larry that I felt like we had shrunk ourselves and were now living in the quaint little village we use to have under our Christmas tree with his trains circling the perimeter!

Thanks to our new friends, who made sure we were busy on our first Christmas season abroad and were determined to show us the best traditions of the season, we had a fun and very educational holiday.  We ate way too much incredible food, stayed up late, sang and danced, met many interesting new Italian friends and had an all around great time.  To me the best gift is to be invited into someone’s home as it is absolutely THE place from which to observe and experience another culture.  I don’t want to forget to thank everyone who went to the trouble to pick us up and drive us where we needed to be and then back home – we really appreicated it (they wouldn’t let us walk or take a taxi).  We brought in the New Year with a dozen or so friends at a party at our home.

That is just an overview of all the events, food and people I will tell you about in further detail, for those who care to know.  Where shall I begin?  I think the best approach is chronologically.  So I shall start with a travel blog on our trip, review restaurants and give details on traditional meals on the food blog and, with luck and a non-fluctuating baud rate, share some photos on the portfolio blog.  Recounting the details of the season will take a while, so be patient.   Aguri in 2014 to all our readers!

PS:  Our Yahoo email account is back up after being down for two weeks.  The Gmail account will be retained as a back-up.


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