Somehow Italians manage, to turn the time before Christmas, which is stressful and hectic for many people, into a celebration on its own. Natale itself still is a family oriented holiday, a time to stay at home (and eat) with loved ones, but the weeks before Christmas are used to go out with friends, do Christmas shopping together and enjoy the beautiful, illuminated city. My personal highlight every year is the tower , wearing its Christmas dress and brighten up the downtown area, you feel like you are in a fairy tale. Christmas shopping the Italian way means, you dress up, stroll from shop to shop and have a coffee break now and then, later in the day the coffee will be substituted by wine.
Shop and eat
At shop closing time, you won`t find a free spot in a restaurant; everywhere you go, you see big groups of friends, eating together and celebrating their Christmas bargains. Slowing down is the secret. Combining the need of Christmas shopping with seeing friends (everyone has to shop, so why not doing it together?) and indulging the seasonal food specialties.
Soups to warm up
So in the cold month, you would have a hot chocolate instead of coffee and a vin brulee (hot wine) instead of regular wine, you would eat Zuppa imperiale (rich broth with pasta from eggs, flour, parma cheese) or Tortellini in brodo (filled pasta in broth) instead of salad, everything to warm you up. Most important: take your time, sit down and eat & drink & chat!