Christmas in the City of Light – Paris, France

The tower boring a hole in the sky

This was our first Christmas without family or friends nearby, but Bobby and I wanted to make the most of it.  After opening up our Christmas gifts a few days early (Santa came to Florence on the 22nd this year!), we set out to spend the holiday in Paris.  Paris is a city that both Bobby and I had always wanted to visit, but never got the chance and we were very excited to see the city for the first time together. [Read more…]

Buon Natale…..errr… Frohe Weihnachten?

Merano - it looks strangely like Innsbruck

This weekend, Bobby and I traveled with our other Olmsted friends Karin and Lou Frketic (from Bologna, Olmsted Class ’10) to Bolzano and Merano, two cities in northeastern Italy.  With their proximity to the Austrian border, both cities have split identities.  Are they Italian cities or German-speaking Austrian cities?  Well, it’s difficult to tell.  They are towns where more often than not, you will hear people chattering in German and saying “Frohe Weihnachten” (Merry Christmas) instead of Buon Natale (the Italian version.)  Menus are split in Italian and German languages.  Most restaurants serve both German and Italian fare and the waiters speak both languages.  [Read more…]

History: New and Old – Assisi & Gubbio, Italy

The entire tree from outside town

The weekend, we set off in search of the largest Christmas tree in the world.  We figured if there is some “new” history in the making, we should check it out.  This tree, which is a gigantic electronic manifestation set on the side of a mountain in Gubbio, Italy, is indeed large and colorful.  However, because the tree is best seen at night (when you can actually see the lights,) we wanted to make the best of our day and decided to visit another Umbrian city, Assisi.  Assisi is a walled settlement dating back to 1000 BC! [Read more…]

Christmas in Florence

Carousel in Piazza della Repubblica

Christmas in Florence is celebrated much like it is in the United States: everyone puts up a Christmas tree (most real, some fake….all without pruning into what we would call an “acceptable” Christmas tree shape) and the little kids all pay a visit to Santa.  However, because Italy is predominately Roman Catholic, they also recognize some other holidays around Christmas as well.  [Read more…]

Journey though Umbria – Deruta & Orvieto

One Always Wins!

Umbria is an Italian region located southeast of Tuscany (the region that Florence and Siena reside in.)  The last time we visited Umbria, we went by train to the chocolate festival in Perugia.  This time, we decided to drive so we could make a leisurely journey through the countryside and we are extremely glad we did!  Our first stop, because we needed to do a little Christmas shopping, was the little (really little!) town of Deruta.  Deruta, if you have seen my previous posts, is known for manufacturing ceramics.  All of the ceramics are hand thrown and painted by artisans in the many workshops dotting the main road in Deruta. [Read more…]