Ok, as promised (from a couple of requests back home) I'm finally reporting on some of the holiday festivities that are going on around Florence! (complete with photos as usual!) Just after Halloween we began to see the stores putting up new window displays and the toy store that is next door to our apartment has a great display with a snow machine and miniature village that attracts crowds throughout the day. A couple times I've even had to push my way through just to put my key in our outside door. Then about 2 weeks ago we started seeing city workers with their large ladders putting up Christmas lights across many of the streets in the center. I kept wondering when they would finally turn them on, and then last weekend when our friends were visiting we saw the first ones lit! The major streets were not turned on yet, but at least it was a start. Then mid-week this week we saw Via Calzaiuoli (the main shopping street between the Duomo and Piazza Signoria - *see photo) finally gleaming with thousands and thousands of little sparkles. So now our evening walks are filled with beautiful Christmas lights, holiday store windows, and the occasional Christmas song coming from a street musician or cafe.
Also this week opened a German Christmas festival in the square at Santa Croce, one of the most famous churches in town. It is full of sausage, pastries, cheeses, candy, toys, and lights! We went one evening and had a fun time browsing at the stalls, but because this market will be held for another week or so, we will definitely return because I had my eyes on some tasty-looking donut things! There is even a cafe on a merry-go-round (that, fortunately for those stuffing big Wurstel in their mouths, doesn't move!)
We haven't decorated in our house yet, but I do think that we'll be shopping for some lovely Fiorentine paper this week to make a string of paper snowflakes for our livingroom. It's crazy to me how the time really is flying by here, and I'm forgetting how close Christmas really is...it's different not being around family and our friends from Florida. Today we played Christmas music for most of the time just for a reminder. We only have 2 weeks left of classes until we are off for a 3 week holiday. This week, there are several to-do's on my list, including getting Christmas cards made, deciding on where we want to go for several days during our break (we've narrowed it down to about 4 Italian excursions), and buying a couple of small gifts for exchange parties coming up.
...lots more to come, including the best tree we've found so far in the city!