Christmas comes a little more slowly in Italy than in Australia – the Christmas lights are only now appearing in the streets, the shops show some decorum and wait until the end of November before decorating the aisles and there isn’t a Christmas pageant to mark the arrival of Babbo Natale. We might be a little biased, but this all feels like a rather civilised approach.
However, one thing that the Italians are not renowned for is their Christmas markets. The Germans seem to have a monopoly on 7 or 8 of the various ‘Top Ten European Christmas Markets” and from our (limited) experience, it is usually with good reason.
We wanted to give the boys a taste of this uniquely European experience but Germany was just out of striking distance by car and the option of flying with the boys if we didn’t need to was quickly dismissed! A road trip to Switzerland was therefore in order – the markets in Basel and Lucerne had some good reviews, plus Lucerne is such a beautiful town that you don’t really need a good reason to visit.
We stayed in a B&B on a (working) dairy farm just out of Lucerne and were hosted by the lovely Familie Steiner.The boys loved seeing the cows being milked and the pigs fed – although they were less interested in Dad’s stories about how he milked cows and fed pigs when he was a boy…
Lucerne was explored (Jo and Master T braved the wilds of the outdoor ice-skating rink), the Christmas markets were well investigated, lots of Wurst, Berliners and Gluwein consumed and in general, much merriment had in a beautiful part of the world.
A true European Christmas experience that Mum and Dad might just have enjoyed as much as the boys.
A postscript: The day after we got back from Switzerland we went up to the little hilltop town of Govone, about 30kms North of Monforte. It had a quaint little Christmas Market in the grounds of the old Savoy castle that would have done the German’s proud – just senza the obligatory Wurst and Gluwein!