We spent Christmas in the Maremma area of Tuscany with the most wonderful people. I really love spending time in the small villages of Italy as this is where all the traditions are preserved in more ways than one. As the Italian schools only have a break of two weeks holiday over Christmas New Year so the primary school in the small village of Istia just outside Grosseto Tuscany performed a Christmas nativity play with lovely singing on their last night of school.
The whole historical center turned into the town of Bethlahem except they called it “Istialem”! The parents of the children dressed up in costume and made stalls that exhibited goods from the time of Jesus.
There was the carpenter and the grain sellers and the food stalls. People opened their doorways and spread the paths with Turkish style carpets and muslims.
Large drums filled with lit fires warmed us on a cold winter night two days before Christmas accompanied by the music sung by the children, warm sangria and Tuscan sausages, Bolognese sauce and lots more.
It was lovely and the parents worked all day to decorate the village – there is such community spirit and everyone knows everyone. I love this.
If you are thinking about spending Christmas next year in Italy, I highly recommend spending it in one of the little villages where the churches and homes are filled with homemade presepe – the nativity scenes. The midnight mass is very traditional with baby Jesus taking centerpiece on the altar.
I had to laugh though as in the large church nativity scene, the cow had its horns and ears missing and it looked like a hippopotamus which made me start giggling in mass – a bad habit left over from childhood!!
I recommend booking your Italian Christmas now so you are guaranteed places in our beautiful boutique apartments as all the relations return home to Italy for the holiday season so best to book ahead.