Most of the time I have been in Florence has been during the summer and then a bit of the early fall this year. And while Florence is full of charms, in the summer it also heaves with people, which can obscure some of those charms. Being back for a couple days, when it was decidedly cold and decidedly winter was nice. You could walk the piazzas and streets without pushing through people, the cold air felt seasonally appropriate, and there were, as I noted before, Christmas lights everywhere. It felt like the whole town had gotten all dressed up for me.
Because the center of Florence is so compact, it seemed like the whole town was blanketed with lights (there are lights and trees here in Rome too, which I’ll show you soon, but because the city is so much bigger and they’re not as concentrated it seems — certainly inaccurately — that there are fewer decorations). Even the Ponte Vecchio was shimmering (and look at how few people there are on it!):
The lights and decorations here in Italy are in a completely different tradition than in the US. There is not really any Santa, or reindeer, and hardly any plastic crap. It’s so lovely. The stores decorate:
And even at the library where I was researching they were in a (slightly) festive spirit:
I just love the commitment to decorating and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this excited by Christmas. It was fun to wander around the city to see what each of the churches and sights had done. The Palazzo Vecchio jazzed up their doors and put a big tree inside:
And there were Christmas markets at Santa Croce (a pretty good one) and Santa Maria Novella (a pretty sad one). Even Santo Spirito had a tree. There were no lights or decorations (maybe because they hadn’t been put up yet?), but the undecorated tree felt very appropriate for the austerity of Santo Spirito’s blank facade.
San Lorenzo, which I ran over to right before I had to catch my train was the only big disappointment because, at least on the outside, there were no decorations. But otherwise, the city seemed magical. December might just be the perfect time to be in Florence.