Dear readers, at last it’s the time to start thinking about advent, to start planning our Christmas holiday, the most magical time of the year!
In Salento we start planning our Christmas celebrations ages in advance. We’re putting together a programme of activities that’s getting fuller by the hour. Food festivals are those that most reflect our traditions here. Christmas desserts, cakes and goodies all compete for pole position, and our historic towns centres get festooned with lights, decorations and giant Christmas trees. There are lots of little Christmas concerts everywhere and shop windows fill to overflowing with gifts; and it’s such special fun time for the children, of course, off school for the holidays. The warmth and joy of Christmas are tangible everywhere you go.
A large Father Christmas Village is set up each year between Gagliano and Leuca, with stalls, games, an ice rink and lots and lots of fun for all the family, all set amid the most beautiful scenery in this southernmost point on the Italian peninsula.
The real passion of Salento’s towns, however, are the living Christmas cribs that take place in various different locations. Passionate believers and actors act out the Nativity scene in our town centres, adding fascinating extra touches from their local folklore. This year there’ll be performances in Corsano, Tricase, Corigliano and Specchia, to name but a few. These events are a great opportunity to take in the breathtaking beauty of our little fortified towns and villages. Visitors enjoy walking along our streets of ancient buildings, and seeing local people and actors dressed up as medieval craftsmen practicing their trades and customs of times past, still alive, never forgotten. The crib scenes that stand out as the most original are the one carved in sulphur in the cave at Santa Cesarea spa town, and the live crib at Corsano, with performances that include audience participation.
The local tourist association in Leuca offers prizes for the most beautiful Christmas trees, and it also runs a Children’s Christmas poetry competition. Christmas in Leuca promises to be really gorgeous again this year!
Christmas brings out the best of Salento warmth and hospitality, you’ll soon see how lively and friendly our people are. This vitality expresses itself best in our food traditions, that gives our Christmas sweets and desserts pride of place. ‘Pittule’ are the queens of Christmas – we talked about those in a previous post – and then there are cakes with almond paste and lots more besides. Christmas markets at a touch of winter colour in different places around the ‘heel’ of Italy, with the largest ones being held in Lecce, Otranto and Cursi. Here you can buy locally produced gift items, in pottery, wood and so on and so forth.
And if all this isn’t enough for you, we needn’t remind you that the local scenery here is spectacular. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get some splendid snow like last year, or perhaps a freak warm sunny day will tempt you to take a swim? It certainly won’t be the first time!
The Montiró Hotel awaits you in its fabulous location to share with you all the joys of Christmas.