Tag Archives: Christmas in Italy

Holiday lights in Roma

15 Dec
Tomorrow we head to Paris then on to London for Christmas. I am told by Italian friends that the Christmas lights in Paris are fantastic. I am excited to see them as Roma just is not as sparkly this year as it has been.
The tree in Piazza Venezia is grand, and the one in Piazza San Pietro certainly is grand, although we have not been able to get over there at night yet. (We have until January 6 to do so.)  Many of the lights in Roma are sweet, subdued, befitting Roma’s usual level of lighting, soft and amber. 
I am disappointed that Via del Corso is lacking lights this year. For the past four holiday seasons, lights have been strung from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. This year — at least as of last Thursday — nothing! I guess that goes along with the scaled-down mercatino in Piazza Navona. We haven’t made it down there since it opened late last week, but it is supposed to be more about games for kids and Christmas decorations and artisanal items, instead of the junky atmosphere of years gone by. That sounds nice because it has been pretty cheesy in the past, though the children loved it.  I hope to get down there at New Years.
So before we skip town, here are a few holiday scenes from Roma. At the bottom of this post, you’ll see four years of lights in Via Del Corso, from 2011-2014. Sad the tradition has not continued.
 Auguri everyone! I’ll write from Paris in a few days.

 

Via del Corso 2011, 150th anniversary of the Italian State.

Via del Corso 2011, 150th anniversary of the Italian State.

Via del Corso 2012

Via del Corso 2012

Via del Corso 2013

Via del Corso 2013

Via del Corso 2014

Via del Corso 2014

The Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot

27 Dec
When Dr. Seuss wrote “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” I think he must have had Ortisei in mind. It sits in a steep valley beneath snowy peaks reminding one of the “Whos down in Whoville.” As we descended yesterday from the highest lift station we could just make out the
From up here (in a gondola) Ortisei seems like little Whoville down in the valley.
From up here (in a gondola) Ortisei seems like little Whoville down in the valley.
village far below, and imagined the Grinch careening down the steep slopes to return the Christmas treasures. Instead we saw skiers launching off the mountain and enjoying a run of several kilometers albeit on mostly artificial snow. Ortisei calls itself Il Paese di Natale, and celebrates for 25 days, right up to Epiphany on January 6. They like Christmas a lot.
We spent a lovely Christmas Day in the Alpe di Siusi (if we are Facebook Friends you have already seen a few pictures from that hike), and on Santo Stefano (Dec. 26) we followed a local alpine guide from the Catores group on a hike to the Church of San Giacomo, which turned out to be a pretty good workout of 2 ½ hours roundtrip. I am pleased to say we old timers were not the slowest ones on the uphill stretch.
Dating to the 11th century, far above Ortisei. My Swedish ancestors were still practicing Norsk Mythology at that time, I think.
Dating to the 11th century, far above Ortisei. My Swedish ancestors were still practicing Norsk Mythology at that time, I think.
Fresco on San Giacomo, 15th century! There is also a quaint cemetery with a view to "die" for.
Fresco on San Giacomo, 15th century! There is also a quaint cemetery with a view to “die” for.
We also spent part of the evening in Ortisei to see the activity during the passeggiata and the fairy tale-like village transformed by holiday lights.
Luckily we are able to be active (as was the point of this trip) to compensate for the amazing food we are consuming at Hotel Albion.
We are staying at what is for us one of the nicest places we have ever stayed. I would compare it to Salishan Lodge on the Oregon Coast in terms of elegance, although the Albion has a decidedly ski-sport bent versus the golf club sophistication at Salishan.  On a normal trip we stay in B&Bs, apartments and small hotels with a goal of spending no more than EURO 100.00 per night. Usually we are successful at that budget number on an average basis, and sometimes we get breakfast included. In planning this holiday trip, a gift to ourselves in lieu of stuff, we wanted to be a little pampered and stay somewhere special and memorable. I agonized over several choices in Ortisei, and while this one is expensive, it is half the price of the high-end properties here!
Like many European resort hotels, the meals are included in a half-pension plan.  Breakfast and dinner are included and are beyond ample. Breakfast offers almost every kind of fruit, a make-your-own juice bar, several choices of breads, pastries, eggs, sausages, assorted salume from speck to cotto, mortadella and salami, yogurt, muesli, jams, a honey bar (6 options!), a dozen types of cheese, and I would venture at least that many types of butter, flavored and not. This is the Tyrol and the northern influence on cooking brings butter to the forefront. Dinners are five courses including an amazing over-the-top salad buffet and an ever-changing menu of primi and secondi. We’ve enjoyed fish, shellfish, venison, quail, veal and duck as well as beautiful vegetarian dishes. I could go on but I won’t.
The clientele are from all over, although I am certain we are the only Americans on the property and probably the only native English speakers. Christmas morning we enjoyed hearing greetings of Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weinachten, and Buon Natale.
There is a shuttle to take us on demand to the lifts or to the village center. There is a spa including outdoor heated pool, which we have not had time to try. The only thing missing was snow, until today (Saturday) when it started during our hike and continued for about 8 hours.
This is our fourth Christmas in Italy, starting with our 2011 vacation here and now three years as residents. Family and friends, we miss you very much, especially at this time of year. We have traded greetings with many of you and have kept up on Facebook , which has been fun.  We keep ourselves entertained, but truly look forward to your visits here next year and to our planned extended visit to the U.S. in August. (Here we come, Seattle, Portland, and Durango!)
Here you see the plateau we hiked on Dec 24, Rasciesa. The view is from another peak, Seceda. The little black square is the rifugio where we ate lunch. See prior post.
Until the next time I think of something to say, Auguri e Buone Feste from both of us! May you have a blessed Anno Nuovo.
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