American in Italy, christmas, culture, expat, italy, tips, tuscany, Uncategorized

What to do if you can’t go home for Christmas

made in italy

As you can probably guess by the title of this post – I am not going home for Christmas. For the first time in two years, I am actually staying in Florence, Italy for the holidays which is fine, but always a little sad for me. I come from a large family back in Texas and while on the surface we can be very very different – we always have a really awesome time together when I come back.

My brothers once forced me to start a “soap collection” that I didn’t want, putting this cardboard box of scented crappy soaps that made me sneeze in my room every time I tried to throw them away. They locked me out of the house on occasion and convinced my five-year-old self that our vintage record player was actually channeling aliens.

Yes we fought a lot and didn’t speak to one another sometimes, to me that’s family. As you start to go off and do your own thing in this world, eventually {I hope} you come to realize just how important family is, and no matter how far I am from everyone. They can rest assured I am always thinking about them, and hoping they are happy {and that they visit me more often}. Enjoy a small glimpse of my last trip back to good ol’San Antonio, Texas – hanging out, ugly sweaters, “owling” and regular ludicrousness.

jupe christmas

What am I doing this year? Besides catching up on some work {lame – punch me in the face}, we are spending it with t-mans family sure to over eat, rest, take a walk, and eat again until my stomach threatens to literally come out of my body and never return. Christmas revolves around eating and I’m pretty ok with that. I am making these delicious bacon-heaven apps and will attempt, and probably fail, to help t-mans mom in the kitchen. That woman is a general, make one false step and I may just end of being the panettone for this Christmas. kidding.

Since many friends are visiting home or hanging out with family, whats a girl to do to distract herself from being homesick?

Go shopping & drink tea, lots and lots and lots of tea, especially chai tea. I attended a fun Yelp event yesterday afternoon – shopping in the heart of artisan Italy, via romana – steps from Palazzo Pitti and the prestigious Porta Romana. We stopped by Tealicious – a great little tea shop owned by Marcela – an Argentinian turned tea-expert. She was wearing reindeer antelers when we arrived and served us delicious tea while showing us around and letting us smell her creations.

tealicious florence italy

Next stop was Tabesce, always on via romana, filled with handmade household items owned by a few artists. Many of the items for sale are made out of colorful glass {one of the owners is a talented glassblower} and this is the perfect place to get someone a not-too-expensive-but-still-original gift. I ended up buying myself {bad Georgette!} a winter hat made in a really interesting cut and texture. They even offered to adjust the hat to better fit my head, which is far cry from your average surly faced COIN saleswoman ;). They even had a few hedgehog shaped newspaper-like items that I kinda need to buy. This is a store worth getting to know.

One of my favorite stops was Twins Art Couture – a small clothing boutique owned by a delightful woman I met at a “mystery dinner” named Maria. Her clothes –  simple cuts, neutral colors, leather belts, beautiful dresses, very much reminds me of Dixie, a popular shop on the road that leads from the Duomo to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

Last but not least is the wonderful {and the store itself smells pretty awesome as well..} L”abito che Io Vorrei or “My Dream Clothes”. This is not really the kind of store that you just wander into and don’t expect anything like H&M or even as expensive as Chanel. This is a store owned by Giuliana Becattini, a woman whose simple, functional, artisan creations are highly customized to every order and of a medium-high price. After visiting her charming store, a friend told me that Giuliana actually made a dress for her. Jealous? YEP!  Her clothes are beautiful and unique, and she confided to me that her first customers were actually.. surprisingly – Americans and praised New Yorkers for seeking out true made-in-Italy craftsmanship.

made in italy

L’Abito che Vorrei shop on via romana, firenze

abitoLet’s keep it real here on “Girl in Florence”- we all know how much fake “made in Italy” crap is swirling around this country. I shake my head every time I see a “made in Italy” 5 euro crappy “leather” item in the center. This fact makes me very much appreciate those trying to keep the true Made in Italy tradition alive.

Giuliana spoke about how clothes that are made by hand always have small imperfections – but that for her, is what makes those clothes unique. Her desire to create simple, flattering cuts was based on the fact that she prefers the material of her clothes to tell her story, not the pattern. I like that, I like that a lot. To be honest, I am not very “trendy” and usually go for the same materials, colors,  and designs while just ‘funking’ it up using accessories.

I will be paying Giuliana a visit as soon as I need something worthy of a customized orderAnyone care to invite me to the White House for dinner?

Needless to say, this was a Saturday afternoon that made me forget for at least a few hours, that I wasn’t at home getting ready to experience a Texan christmas and some pretty-bad-but-pretty-good karaoke and regifted presents. A little shopping, a little tea, good company all while strolling around a very foggy- mysterious Florence really does help during the holiday season. What do you do if you can’t go home for Christmas?

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0 Comment

  1. t
    27.12.2012 at 13:39

    aaah. Let’s hope by next year you can celebrate it with your family!

    1. ggnitaly84
      27.12.2012 at 13:41

      I hope so too!

  2. relishandgraze
    30.12.2012 at 12:19

    Nothing like reading a blog post and being able to totally relate to it… Being an Australian living In England, with all my family back home and my loved on in Italy, its not the easiest time! I was thankfully flat out preparing the lunch on Christmas Day and then subsequent days of feasting were had by the family I work for. So that kept me busy too. I find it hard skyping family on Christmas Day, knowing theyre all together enjoy a lovely summers day, can do more harm then good! But they know I love them 🙂
    When I’m living in Forte Dei Marmi next year, I’m looking forward to visiting Florence again and checking out the places you mention here on your blog 🙂 Buona Domenica!

    1. ggnitaly84
      30.12.2012 at 12:23

      aww well the holiday season is hard. I definitely teared up a few times on christmas day whihc surprised me because I thought I had gotten “over it”. Your right how skyping can sometimes do more harm than good! Nothing compares to being around your own family but there is always the future to look forward too. Forte dei marmi is really nice and good luck to you in your adventures! Be sure to say hi when you come to Florence