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.

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.

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.

May 2018

Happy La Festa della Mamma!

By |2018-05-07T21:19:43+00:00May 7th, 2018|holidays, Mother's Day in Italy|

Happy La Festa della Mamma!

Once again, Mother’s Day is just around the corner! We love to celebrate the most important women in our lives and show them how much they mean to us. As it turns out, this sentiment is echoed in Italy, where La Festa della Mamma—the Italian phrase for “Mother’s Day”—is widely celebrated on the second Sunday of May, much like American Mother’s day. La Festa della Mamma was first celebrated in Italy back in 1957 at the initiative of the parish priest of the Tordibetto church in Assisi, Umbria.  Mothers are some of the most important figures in Italian life—so much so that Italian men are often referred to as mammoni (meaning “mama’s boys”), so sure enough, Mother’s Day quickly caught on. By 1958, the Italian senate had made the holiday official. Nowadays, it’s a very important event for many Italians!

A widely known quote throughout Italy that encapsulates the spirit of La Festa della Mamma and demonstrates to value Italians place on their mothers translates to “There’s just one day in which to remember who gave me life, but there are 364 days for me to make you proud of that gift.” This devotion to mammas culminates in the ways Italians celebrate La Festa della Mamma. On this day, Italian mothers are recognized for their reputation of harboring a nurturing, caring nature. Families reunite from all corners of the country in order to give their moms the best celebration possible, and if anyone is unable to attend, they’ll still be sure to make a call and send a card or flowers. Mamma is not to lift a finger during her special day, so any cooking and cleaning is left to the rest of the family. La Festa della Mamma is much less commercialized than American Mother’s Day, and this is reflected in a number of ways. Many sentimental, homemade gifts will be given, and she may receive cards and letters bearing the phrases “Ti voglio tanto bene” (I love you so much) or “Sei la mamma migliore del mondo” (You’re the best mom in the world). Additionally, in a wonderful show of affection, children will typically prepare a special poem for their mothers at school and then recite it in the presence of the whole family.

The day’s activities are mainly centered on family togetherness, and the main event is a family lunch. There’s no set rules on whether or not the meal must be homemade or not; any family is as likely to go out as they are to cook. As long as the family is together, celebrating their wonderful mamma, then it’s a proper La Festa della Mamma celebration. A practice that does remain consistent, however, is the manner in which the meal is typically topped off: a lovely heart-shaped cake with a liqueur coffee!

All in all, Italians love and value their mammas, the Italian Mother’s Day experience reflects this greatly! This Mother’s Day, be sure to call or visit your mother, or at the very least, reflect on the impact she has made in your life. Buona Festa della Mamma!