Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Celebrate Christmas in Tuscan Elegance

How to Celebrate Christmas in Tuscan Elegance

As we all know, Tuscany is truly spectacular at any time of the year, but Christmas is a particularly wonderful and unforgettable time. In Florence, and in the surrounding hill towns, the streets are decorated with Christmas lights. Window displays are bursting with reds and greens, sparkling and dazzling with tinsel and fairy lights that are impossible to ignore.

As with many things in Italy, Christmas dinner is still very traditional. The food has been passed down through the generations, gradually evolving into a traditional menu of delicious treats that just have to be eaten!

An old Italian proverb says, ‘Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi’, translated, ‘Christmas with your own (family), and Easter with whoever you want’. It is said to have been derived from the fact that Christmas is considered to be a special and sacred event for families, so it’s traditional to eat with your family. Easter, however is another story.

And what a table it is. Likely to be covered with a very special Accademia Firenze luxury tablecloth, the table is usually filled with antipasti (starters), to be consumed over a glass of celebratory prosecco. These starters could be a selection of hams and salamis, cheeses and plump olives produced locally. Quiche could be served, filled with the season’s freshest vegetables and perhaps some freshly-shaved truffles. There will almost always be ‘Crostini Toscani’ (chicken liver-pâté on Tuscan bread, a delicacy in Tuscany which is loved by all).

For the ‘first’ first course, the ‘primo’, expect hand-made tortellini served in broth (‘brodo’), followed by a ‘second’ first course of homemade pasta (like pappardelle), often with a meat sauce like boar, pigeon or duck, or lasagne. Of course, they must be washed down by a gorgeous Tuscan wine, for example, a Sassicaia, a Solaia or a rare bottle of Masseto. But don’t worry, it takes a long time to work through a big Italian meal, so hopefully you’ll have some room left when the main course arrives - you’ll need it! You can expect to be served with a variety of roast meats, and another meat dish such as ‘bollito’ (mixed boiled meats in delicious sauce) or meatloaf, and a side dish or two of fresh in-season vegetables.

Luckily there’s always room for dessert because what comes next is a variety of pastries, cakes, and other traditional Tuscan sweets, and then a bitter espresso shot of coffee and Panettone or Pandoro (typical Tuscan Christmas cakes. ‘Pandoro’ means ‘golden bread’ – with reference to its colour), possibly heated up. A shot of grappa or another liqueur is then served to help you digest this sumptuous feast. So keeping all of this in mind, and to ensure you don’t burst, try asking for smaller portions before the food is served, then you might have a chance of making the finish line!

After dinner, it used to be traditional to go to the cinema on the afternoon of the 25th. Many people also go for a stroll through the streets, not only to help work off lunch, but also to see the spectacular ‘Presepe’ (nativity scenes), and of course to wish a ‘Buon Natale’(‘Merry Christmas’) to friends and neighbours. Sometimes there may also be Christmas markets or events happening to go and have a look at.

December can be quite chilly, so at the end of the day wrap up and enjoy the comfort of an Accademia Firenze luxury Italian cashmere blanket, as traditionally Tuscan as the food you’ve eaten. And when you go to bed enjoy the luxury and comfort of one of our pure Egyptian cotton bed sets – the perfect end to a traditionally elegant Tuscan Christmas. For more information see  - Luxury Italian Cashmere, Bedding & Bath Linen

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