Cold Winter’s Night or Tu Scendi dalle Stelle


Molto freddo!  That summer like fall lulled me into a false sense of suspended time. I didn’t even post my Columbus Day menu. Now it’s mid-December, dark by 4:30, Christmas approaching, and two days later off to Florence.   I won’t complain about any of that since all of it fills my head and heart  with warm memories and anticipation.

While the Tuscan sun is something to be longed for, Italy in winter is so embracing. Lights, trees, candles, wood smoke and roasting chestnuts wafting through the streets. Red wine by the fireplace in the afternoon. Fewer tourists, less traffic, more music, Italians strolling by in puffer coats or furs even though it may be nearly 60 degrees. Last winter, around midnight after a leisurely dinner with friends, Frank and I left a cozy restaurant near the Palazzo Vecchio and walked into a beautiful , empty Piazza Signoria as snow fell through the city.  I will never forget that nor will I forget running down the street and across the Santa Trinita bridge because we were not in puffer coats or fur and were freezing! Piazza Signoria Dec 2009

And I love Italian Christmas trees. So wonderfully and inimitably chaotic. Random decorations,  lights that look as if they were thrown over the tree, and the whole thing was rolled downhill and then propped in a corner, some lights blinking of others not.  It makes even our family tree look too studied in comparison.  Their trees look like they went to a great holiday party, several of them, and ours look ready to perform high mass.

I like the idea too of closing the holidays with a visit from the Befana on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany and that January 6th is a holiday from work.   It’s nice to have a regalino on the last morning of Christmas brought by a kindly witch and then to end the season as it began with family and friends.

In the spirit of the holiday, and from this particular Befana , here’s a favorite Italian Christmas carol, Tu Scendi dalle Stelle, a carol that derives from a Sicilian shepherds’ song.  I have included a link to O Soave Fanciulla from La Boheme for no particular reason other than it is my favorite and every time I hear it no matter how often it reminds me of the ever present possibility of finding the miraculous when we least expect it. I suppose that has everything to do with the season as well as with being in Italy.

Tu Scende dalle Stelle

O Soave Fanciulla

Leave a Reply