I studied abroad in Italy and, since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my friends and I dove right into Christmas as soon as November came around. I listened to my professor sing in a choir for a Christmas concert, attended the magical tree lighting in Piazza della Repubblica, window-shopped with my friends, and bought as many Christmas ornaments and presents for my family as my near Euro-less pockets would allow.
But the greatest part of Christmas in Florence is the open-air Mercatino di Natale (Little Christmas Market). Giant pretzels, wooden toys and shiny toys, glass-blown ornaments, poinsettias, spiced wine, and blueberry strudel filled some of the many tents in the town square. It didn't hurt that the artful Chiesa di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross) served as its backdrop.
I hurried over the first day it opened to eat prosicutto from a carousel; celebrated my time in Italy and said my goodbyes there two nights before coming home; and ate zucchero filato (cotton candy), pesto cheese, and German sausages there plenty of times in between.