Christmas

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October 2018

Christmas in Tuscany with A Toast to Travel

By |2018-10-18T04:10:34+00:00October 18th, 2018|Christmas, Feature, General, holidays, Travel Tips, Tuscany|

Florence Christmas market 600

Christmas in Tuscany with A Toast to Travel

The holidays are an important part of the year in which Italians gather with family to exchange gifts and enjoy a nice meal. Our Christmas in Tuscany experience includes the mainstays of our A Toast To Travel trips where travelers can see historical landmarks in Florence, Chianti, Pisa, Lucca, and Siena, taste exquisite wines and gourmet dinners, take tours of the art galleries and wineries across the region of Tuscany, as well as the once in a lifetime opportunity of joining in on traditional, Italian festivities!

The Christmas markets are a must-see for any traveler during this time of year with the powdered cobblestone streets, skies lit with cheerful lights, and brightly colored goodies every which way you turn. Browsing the Weihnachtsmarkt, which is German for Christmas market, and warming up with a cup of mulled wine is a tradition among the locals of Florence, and will surely create a memorable experience for traveling with family and friends.

We also offer the chance to travel through time while driving up through the snowy trees of the medieval towns of Chianti and to their own holiday markets. Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo, is also a sight to see with the leaning tower and other architectural landmarks like the Battistero and Piazza dei Miracoli, followed a trip to Lucca the famed walled city to wander through their own gorgeous holiday markets. On the streets of the holiday markets, musicians play holiday tunes that are old and familiar, but also new and exciting!

The last few days of your holiday trip with family and friends include visiting Siena, a United Nations Educational, Cultural, and Scientific (UNESCO) World Heritage site, Midnight Mass with the locals at the Duomo, and spectacular multi-course dinners paired with Tuscan wine. In Siena, journey to the Middle Ages with the artistic masterpieces, medieval architecture, cuisine, and of course, the great city’s brightly lit holiday markets.

Our farewell dinner of Festa dei Sette Pesci, Feast of the Seven Fishes, will quite literally give you a taste of authentic Italian Christmas! This meal is commonly served on Christmas Eve in Italian families and features several types of seafood, a pasta dish, and dessert of season’s greetings. While the origin of the feast is unknown, it continues on with the spirit of bringing family and friends together to celebrate Christmas.

Being at the center of Florence makes the Duomo, or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, a welcoming church to those who don’t identify as religious and allows all to view the gigantic, festive tree, a life-size nativity scene, and the experience of the art and culture along with the locals. Midnight Mass at the Duomo will allow you to get in touch with your spirituality while appreciating the grandiose high ceilings, mosaics, and paintings in peace with travelers and locals alike on La Vigilia di Natale, Italian for Christmas Eve.

With A Toast to Travel, having a warm and unforgettable holiday season is made simple by taking the stress away from the holidays and curating a trip that will be cherished by all.

July 2018

Christmas in Tuscany

By |2018-08-05T11:52:03+00:00July 24th, 2018|Christmas, Feature, holidays, Informational, Tuscany|

Florence Christmas market 600

Christmas in Tuscany

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday.  And there is no better place to spend Christmas than in Florence, Italy.  Christmas, as you might have guessed is one of most important holidays in Italy and you will definitely feel and see the importance when you are there.  The cobbled streets are all decorated with beautiful lights and festive decorations.  Warm wine is abundant and the holiday markets are in most of the major town squares.  There are holiday specialty baked goods in all of the stores, restaurants and bakeries that will constantly tempt you.  There are just too many things to list in a blog, but below are some of the must-see and do highlights.

The Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore):
This cathedral is the hub of Florence.  Located in the center of the city, you cannot miss this magnificent work of art.   Even for those who are not religious, this is a must-see attraction.  At Christmas time, there’s a life size nativity scene outside of the cathedral as well as a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.  This is also the favorite place for Christmas and Christmas Eve mass.  Christmas Eve mass starts at 11:00PM and seats are first come first serve.

Christmas markets:
The biggest Christmas market in Florence is located at the Piazza Santa Croce.  If you want to immerse yourself in holiday cheer there is no better way than to walk around this market.  Grab a glass of warm mulled wine and explore the various stalls boasting beautifully decorated ornaments and other festive wares.

Concerts:
There are always amazing concerts in Tuscany, but at Christmas time, they are especially amazing with all of the beautifully written Christmas music.  You can find the upcoming events listed at the individual venues.

Food:
The traditional Christmas Eve dinner is called the Feast of the seven fishes or Festa dei sette pesci.  The origins of this feast are blurry and the number of courses is not set in stone—the main reason for the dinner is to bring together family and friends.  The meal traditionally consists of 7 or so courses of seafood dishes and of course, there’s a pasta dish and a sweet ending.  While in Tuscany, there are many restaurants that serve this traditional feast, and reservations are highly recommended.

Around Tuscany:
There are many Christmas markets around Tuscany as well as other Christmas related activities, including the Santa Claus factory located in Montepulciano which is a real treat.  Expect to be transported to a fairy tale time that is all about Christmas and Old St. Nick.  The factory is not just for children, it’s a magical way to spend a day or evening for adults too.

Experiencing Christmas in Tuscany is a bucket-list Experience that you will never forget.  Join A Toast to Travel this holiday for a fully hosted, all-inclusive experience where you’ll live like a local!  For more holiday cheer, you can also check out our Christmas blog from last year.

November 2017

Christmas in Florence and Tuscany!

By |2018-01-02T22:10:17+00:00November 15th, 2017|Christmas, Feature, food, Wine|

Christmas in Florence
Italian Christmas traditions with Panettone
Celebration

Christmas in Florence and Tuscany!

Florence, Italy is by far one of the most magical and beautiful cities in the world and millions and millions of visitors agree.  It’s the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to unforgettable landmarks, museums, monuments, art, culture and food!

If you have never visited Florence or have been many times, the Christmas season is not to be missed.  The streets are festively decorated and shopkeepers take pride in their window dressings.  Christmas markets are abound full of unique and precious gifts to buy for you or loved ones and chestnuts are roasting on an open fire but this time—they are everywhere!

Living like a local in Florence means experiencing all that it has to offer this time of the year.  There are fewer tourists (although there are always people visiting Florence), the weather is milder and there are many cultural activities to take part in.  The festivities start in early December.

If you are looking for furnishings, food and wine, the festivities for you start at the Christmas markets all around Florence.  The largest one is located in Piazza Santa Croce.  There’s a combination of vendors and somewhat of a German theme—you know that means–warm wine!  Of course, you can always find the leather goods Florence is famous for—bags, gloves, book binders, notebooks, etc.  You can also negotiate your prices with better success given the fact that Florence has fewer tourists this time of the year.

If you are interested in visiting museums, the Uffizi Gallery is open throughout the Christmas season except on Christmas and New Year’s day.

If instead you are looking for a spiritual experience, Christmas Eve Mass is held by the Cardinal of Florence at midnight in the Duomo of Florence, while the vigil prayers start earlier, around 11 pm.

For New Year’s Eve, you can celebrate in the main squares of the city and attend one of the concerts.  In the Piazza della Signoria, for example, there’s usually a classical music concert while in the Piazzale Michelangelo, a pop concert on New Year’s Eve.

Living like a local, there’s plenty to see and do during the holidays in Florence.  Some wineries are open and other well-known cities such as Siena and Arezzo also have festive decorations and holiday markets.  These make for very enjoyable day trips.

We look forward to hosting you during one of our experiences where you will learn to live like a local all seasons!  Happy holidays from A Toast to Travel!

December 2016

Holidays in Tuscany

By |2016-12-15T01:51:57+00:00December 8th, 2016|Christmas, Winter|

I love the the Christmas season, and there is no place on Earth that embodies the season for me as much as Firenze!  From the decorations, to the Christmas Markets, to Christmas Eve Mass at the Duomo- this city gives me my “Christmas Fix”.

Buon Natale!