A few of the streets in Florence have lights strung up between the buildings and many shops have already put in Christmas decorations in their vetrine (shop winows), but nothing announces the coming of Christmas for me like the annual Mercato di Natale (Christmas Market) in Piazza Santa Croce. Every year the entire piazza is filled with bancarelle (stands) that sell Christmas gifts, food, and even clothing.
When I read that the Mercato di Natale was opening on Wednesday, I couldn't wait to go with Alessandro to check it out. We met up near the giostra (merry-go-round) and walked around to see browse the bancarelle. We were immediately greeted with the smells of hot salsiccia (sausage), würstel, and vin brûlé (mulled wine).
We each ordered a plate of salsiccia con crauti (sausage with sauerkraut), and sat down at a table to eat out in the chilly air. Salsiccia con crauti is my favorite treat to enjoy at least once while the Mercato di Natale overtakes the piazza for almost three weeks. Afterwards we got dessert: I walked over to another bancarella to order a crêpe while Alessandro got himself a slice of warm apple strudel.
We walked through the crowds while nibbling on our desserts. We looked over people's shoulders to see what the bancarelle were selling this year. We saw mostly pottery, scarves, Christmas ornaments, tovaglie (tablecloths), jewelry, crystals, lamps, and even candy.
I walk through the piazza quite a bit and each time I do, I plan on walking through the mercato instead of around it. It's so festive and colorful that it puts me in the Christmas mood. And, a small glass of vin brûlé wouldn't hurt either.
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