A November trip, a few years ago, lead to a day-long passeggiata in Bracciano (fig. 1) where we would find a Fiera di Natale, in essence, one of many opportunities to shop for the upcoming Christmas Holidays... Italian style!! Of course, there were people and cars everywhere, however we managed to find a somewhat precarious parking spot. From there on many surprises awaited. A small, simply decorated chapel (fig. 2) with a wonderful painting behind the main altar was open and luckily nearly empty. It was the first stop, before we located the Mostra dei Presepi (fig. 3). The Nativity scenes displayed were truly mesmerizing. From small (fig. 4) to very large and expensive creations (fig. 5), they drew an amazing crowd around them, with everyone looking for that new piece to add to their presepe at home. It was rather heart-warming to see so much interest in such an old Christmas tradition!
Outside, much else was happening. Many bancarelle (fig. 6) were set up throughout the narrow, winding streets and small piazzas luring the arriving visitors with chestnuts, candies and so much more (fig. 7). Suddenly, drums and trumpets were heard and the crowd quickly moved to the sides to allow for the festivities to begin. A procession of historical costumes (fig. 8) reenacting a local tradition which would initiate the Feste Natalizie began!
Every osteria and trattoria (fig. 9) in town was open, offering a wide variety of food accompanied, of course, by excellent local wine. Indeed, they all filled quickly with hungry turisti. As I wandered around town, a rather unusual mercatino (fig. 10) appeared... che sorpresa!
As the dark approached, most people headed home, leaving behind the wonderful aroma of grilled sausage and pork chops (fig. 11) available in the main square where the party went on late in the night for sure... Buon Natale a tutti!!