Gift Guide – Part II: Five favorite Christmas gifts from Venice

Part II of our series brings a special Christmas gift guide and two gifts from Venice to you !! We start by telling about those gifts Venetians give to each other for Christmas. The ones they love are simple and genuine, and very often “gourmet” food is a major part 🙂

When I was a child I felt the striking difference between the glittering shopping malls in other cities and the quiet Christmas in the Lagoon and in Venice. That very natural and green-themed Christmas. Venice was cold and humid and shrouded in deep fog. Almost no Christmas trees, it was the presepi (Nativity scenes) taking center stage in the churches and at home.

Department stores in the late 1980s / early 1990s were first to put up Christmas trees in Venice and just a few years later, the flimsy light chains you can now see in Venice followed. It was a very quiet yet genuine atmosphere and the gifts Venetians love to give and receive for Christmas still seem to reflect it.

Only few and little gifts were exchanged but it happened twice, on Christmas Eve and in the morning of January 6, Epiphany Day, when small gifts are brought by Befana. Like in other parts of Italy, yet it was different in the Lagoon. In the week before Christmas, you could see Venetians visit their neighbors and friends bringing small but so beautiful gifts, and we’ll show you a few examples of these.

#1 Flowers and in particular, Stella di Natale – Poinsettia.

Christmas flowers are one of the most popular Christmas gifts. By now, you can watch people carrying poinsettia plants around in town. In the 1980s and 1990s, grandmother’s home resembled a tropical forest filled with Stella di Natale plants. By the way, she never threw them away, imagine what her window sills and courtyard garden looked like 🙂 Some of these lush plants really take to the moist climate in the Lagoon and continue to thrive for years.

#2 Very special Books on Venice.

Venetians simply love beautiful books on their town and the Lagoon! Like this one, a special book series that instantly transports you to Venice and that captured my family’s heart. A wonderful gift to the Venetians and to everyone loving Venice and missing her.

The first book in the series comes in December turquoise blue and is a perfect coffee table book you can use to dive deeply into Venetian colors. The second book, in addition to midnight blue pictures, offers valuable information on how architects view Venice. We learnt a lot from it and so loved its colors. That very same color you can now witness on a starry December night in Venice.

Here you can see Publisher JoAnn Locktov and film director / photographer Riccardo de Cal at their book signing in Venice which took place just a few days ago on December 7. Both books have now got a home base in Venice at the book store Libreria Studium.

Gift #1 for you: If you live in the UK you might like this special offer: Dream of Venice and Dream of Architecture 20 % off either book & free shipping through 30 December, promo code is GZDREAM1 . Click on the links above.

#3 Coffee is always welcome and so is my favorite topic, spices !! And pistachio nuts.

Their green color recalls Christmas trees and the colors Venetians love for Christmas – green, red and brilliant gold. I described the pistachio cake in the Advent Calendar here.

#4 Luxurious food and citrus fruit

These cocoa and salmon-flavored tagliatelle will  definitely go into our Christmas lunch 🙂 The bergamots that you can see below are my personal favorites. I use them to make dessert, almond-bergamot flavored cream. My grandmother loves radicchio like it comes now, leaves fragrant of earth and winter water. Radicchio leaves go into the risotto but we also use them fresh to garnish dishes or eat them just as they are. In that case, we add a few drops of balsamic vinegar or fry them in olive oil with pine nuts and raisins.

#5 Gift baskets

Venetian gift baskets include gourmet gifts like miele al coriandolo – coriander honey, cotognata (solid quince jam), flavored pasta and of course, pandoro or the Venetian Christmas focaccia !

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