Ciao Bellas! Gemma here, with a little bit of Christmas chat inspired by my love of travel.
Ever since I visited Italy for the first time at 15, I’ve wanted to go back there for Christmas. I feel like the yuletide season in Italy would be like Christmas to the power of 3 – I mean, even the Italian flag is in Christmas colours! I’d love to go to a Christmas service in one of the beautiful ancient churches for hymns and carols sung in Italian and mass in Latin. To gorge myself on Italian Christmas delicacies like il torrone (Italian nougat) and Panettone, (Italian Christmas fruitcake, baked in a tall mould with light buttery dough and filled with candied fruit, raisins, ginger, honey, almonds and hazelnuts) and to wander the winding, snow-covered streets cradling a caffe corretto (that’s coffee ‘corrected’ with a shot of cognac or another spirit 😉 hand in hand with a handsome man.
However. This year the handsome man and I are staying at home for Christmas in our new rental flat in London, so instead, I’ve come up with an Italian-inspired gift guide which hopefully includes something for everyone.
First up, for the tree (considering we had the Christmas tree up in our house before we had plates or cutlery it’s safe to say I prioritise ‘decking my halls’!) this stunning decoration from Versace. I know that the price of it is a little bit ridiculous, but that’s what makes it so fabulous and it would definitely become a family heirloom.
Cibi e Bevande (Food and Drink)
- Toast the season with a traditionally Italian tipple – Prosecco. And if you’re after a gift for a wine buff, you could give them a bottle with some Riedel Prosecco glasses (I know Riedel is Austrian but they went to a LOT of trouble working with Italian Prosecco makers to design this glass which directs the drink to the right part of your palate so that it maximizes the sweetness and fullness of the wine while minimising bitterness… it would be scrooge-ish of me not to include them, no?) Panettone: this amazing cake, which is similar to brioche in texture, can be eaten on its own, smothered with nutella (what? It’s an example..) or used in any recipes that call for bread – once you’ve tried bread and butter pudding made with this you’ll never go back.
- Italian coffee: this is self explanatory. I’m name-checking Lavazza here. They’ve been making the stuff since 1895, and am I the only one who loves the styling of their ads? Giving a pack of ‘posh coffee’ along with a stove-top Espresso maker like this beauty from Bialetti can be a truly life-changing present for people who’ve only ever had instant at home before.
- Italian food cookbook – The Italian Diet, Gino Di Campo. For anyone who thinks Italian cooking is; a, too easy, b, too fatty and carby, or c, boring, this is the book. Lots of fresh ideas that are healthy, and lots of unusual dishes that go past the basics like lasagne. I picked up a friend’s copy and went to write a few dishes down, then I realised I liked the sound of so many I might as well get the book.
Per la casa (for the home)
- Alessi Stovetop kettle: I have wanted one of these for a vairrrrrry long time, but as I’ve just bought an enamelled grey whistling kettle that was more ‘in-budget’ please let me know if any of you are getting this for Christmas or indeed already own one. I like the pale blue/burgundy colour combo best, and yes I’d like to see home photos.
- MOR Italian Blood Orange candle
- Venetian mirror – in my quest to make our rental flat homey and livable (at the moment it’s homely and laughable) I am after a statement mirror. I have bored many people, including Rebecca, with mirror-chat. So to shut me up, someone please direct my long-suffering husband to this Laura Ashley Valencia mirror.
- Murano glass paperweight – yes, a paperweight, potentially the world’s most-given, least-thought-about gift. Except that if someone gave me this I would so totally put it on my desk, stat. (Well, if they gave me a desk to go with it)
- Ok, so her mother is Icelandic but she obviously gets her name from her Italian father, and if you’ve never heard Emiliana Torrini you might want to keep one of her albums for yourself. My fav of her tracks? Jungle Drums, Heartstopper and her exquisite cover of Tom Wait’s I hope that I don’t fall in love with you. This Rarities
vinyl is also frameable.
- In my Christmas day schedule I’ve set aside time for film watching in my pjs. First up is Life is Beautiful, (which is not to be confused with A Beautiful Life) an Italian film that will make you laugh and cry, and then I’ll be sighing over polka dot dresses with La Dolce Vita.
- Having learnt to speak Spanish in the last year and wishing with all my might that I’d payed attention to Italian lessons at school, I think the Rosetto Stone Italian lesson program is a fab gift. Rosetta Stone really works, too.
- Oh, Italian fashion, how I love thee. Maxmara reversible cape? I’m talking to you. Oh, hello there Missoni sweater – I do agree you’d be trans-seasonal and therefore a justifiable expense and Miu Miu calf leather boots and coat, why, it’d be a crime to buy one of you without the other. Sigh.
- However, back here in the real world, I do like the look of this Italian Silk scarf for men which is very, um,
stealableborrowable… I mean, only when he’s not wearing it…
I’d love to hear from anyone who has spent a Christmas in Italy – what have I missed? Do you have a dream Christmas destination?