You know it’s Christmastime when the store fronts are covered in red, green, snowflakes, St. Nick (Babbo Natale here) and the like.
All of our favorite restaurants, cafes and coffee shops are decorated with charming touches. Coffee shops are really called “bars” here. It never ceases to make me laugh to hear my six-year-old daughter say – like she did this morning before we walked to her school – “Can we first stop over at the bar?!?”
I promise we’re only getting a pastry and sometimes I get a coffee – but never an alcoholic beverage – which they also sell – so the name really does make sense! It’s all about the bar that you stand in front of to eat behind – not about the beverage.. Wonder why we Americans limit the word to the saloon-type establishments..
Anyway, you really know it’s holiday time when even the local butchers get into the spirit. Here’s one of our neighborhood macelleria allfestooned in holiday swag.
Yesterday, my Advent Calendar was interrupted by .. a wicked bout of stomach flu blech.. but today we resume our regularly scheduled programming: Christmas ITALIAN Style!
Here’s Lulu and the Italian Santa – aka Babbo Natale – from yesterday when Daddy took her out to see him her in Arezzo at Piazza Guido Monaco. I was sick in bed.
And yes, that is a GIANT jar of Nutella in the background.
How does Santa look compared to what your area has? What do you think?
Lulu enjoyed her time and asked him for a “family of cats.” Yow!
Buone Festa, tutti!
As for me, as it is a law that mommies can only be sick for 36 hours, I am back now and no longer in bed…however, not feeling 100 percent.. .. ah, well, hope the rest of the family doesn’t catch the bug!
The cathedral, or duomo, in our adopted hometown of Arezzo.
It was built in the 13th century after Pope Gregory X had the misfortune to die here in Arezzo on his way to lead a Crusade! The money he had with him became part of the funds used to build the church – and good old Greg is interred inside. Making Arezzo one of those rare places, other than Rome, that has a Pope!
Here you are this morning with me at “Bar il Duomo” – the coffee shop right next door to our house and just steps away from the cathedral, or duomo, here in our adopted hometown of Arezzo – hence the bar’s name. I have just ordered a macchiato and Lucia is getting ready to make it. She always looks like this. Beautiful and smiling!
She and her husband run the place – alongside their son Andrea and his adorable girlfriend Francesca. It’s a real family affair.
And speaking of family – look closely at that gourd- looking blue thing in the foreground on the right. It’s not a gourd at all – it’s a demigiana – a container used to make wine. And inside it resides the Holy Family!
That’s right! A miniature Madonna, Giuseppe and Bambino Gesu – aka Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus – plus assorted sheep, pine cones and an angel – are all delicately arranged inside this wine-diorama.
Naturally, with the Holy See and the Pope residing in Rome- it’s no surprise that Italy would be renowned for its creative nativity scenes, or presepi, as they’re referred to in Italian. When we were in Paris last Christmas, for example, the elaborate nativity scene, or creche, as they’re referred to in French – we saw inside Notre Dame was made by an Italian, not a Frenchman.
But to see one in miniature carefully arranged inside an old wine bottle – now that is truly awesome!!
When you’re married to a comedy entertainer-actor-magician – (I’m talking about one guy, mind you, not three) – it’s never a dull moment.
Today’s “Italian” style Advent Calendar posting features some of the fun-filled moments during our recent performance of “Meet the Silverstones” This mad-cap show was conceptualized, written and directed by my husband Scotty Walsh – who also played the lead role of magician “Professor Silverstone.”
As you can see above from the devilish delight with which Professor Silverstone has just impaled his valet Kato after knife throwing “without even practicing” – Scotty’s character is just a little off-beat! He’s a flavorful mixture of famous stage magician Harry Blackstone – from whom we adapted our names – to swashbuckler Errol Flynn to “Gomez” from the Addams Family – the original and incomparable John Astin‘s version, of course. As much as I would’ve loved to have borrowed from Morticia Addams for my character, as a magician’s assistant we wanted someone a little more giddy – so I drew from the lovely yet dingy comedy of Gracie Allen instead.
Together, we performed a mentalist act – in which I somehow really do manage to perform feats of clairvoyance – to the extreme surprise of the audience I’m sure! And Scotty performed a wide-range of elegant illusions – but wrapped up in a lot of farce and comedy. Our unique and custom musical accompaniment was provided by our friend Sam – who stoically performed as “Samuel Samuel.”
We played for two evenings in two separate venues – each night to a packed house. And although the show was in English, we did this all in our adopted town of Arezzo, Tuscany – hence – I am including it here among the Advent Calendar posting for – Christmas ITALIAN style!
A great evening of family fun – performed by my family.