In Italian, we have expression to mark the end of the holidays: "L’Epifania tutte le feste le porta via", which translates to The Epiphany takes away the holidays. Once the Epiphany comes around, all over the Christian world, the end of the Christmas holidays has arrived. School and work holidays come to an end, our daily routine starts to gain back momentum bringing us back to our busy life. But hold on - at the start of the new year, before the Epiphany, there’s actually many events that still remind us of Christmas magic and atmosphere, softening our gradual return to our daily routines.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the main events of the month by province.
Siena, where the magic of Christmas never ends
The many artistic and live nativity scenes spread out all over the province of Siena contribute to extend the magic of Christmas time even if festivities are almost over. Take the time to stroll also along the streets of Siena, you'll find the city still decorated and illuminated by thousand of coloured lights; then, heading to the province, there's Corsignano that houses one of the most suggestive live nativity in all Tuscany on January 3 and 6. Throughout the historical center, the charming village of Betlemme will be recreated with people dressed up in costumes, music, dances, fireworks and a special atmosphere reminding of the Roman Empire times. On January 1, 3 and 6 (from 3pm to 7 pm) Casole d'Elsa will be housing another manifestation dedicated to celebrate Jesus' birth and the Three Wise Men's arrival: a parade with more than 300 people in costumes and animals will wind its way through the historical center to pay homage to one of the most eagerly awaited events of the Catholic calendar. Another interesting live nativity to visit is traditionally set up in Sinalunga on January 3 and 6, offering an amazing representation of the ancient times with wine and food stands.
Last chances to visit Santa's Rocca (la Rocca di Babbo Natale) and walk down the narrow streets of Piancastagnaio where the characters of the most popular fairy tales will come to life to tell children their favourite stories: Favoliamo verso il Natale will continue on welcoming kids and grown-ups until January 6 (on weekends only) in a suggestive and fascinating background that, in this very first year, has already gained an impressive success. More info about the manifestation on the official website.
If you happen to drop by Siena right on New Year's Day, there’s a musical event I strongly suggest attending: a Gospel Music Concert by Cedric Shannon Rives & Brothers in Gospel, a group that has gained international claim thanks to the harmony they are able to transmit. Cedric is a cute, eclectic person that boasts of a rich experience in singing, playing and teaching music. Each concert is an explosion of joy and brightness, as the Gospel tradition has it, and brings at the same time a note of pleasant innovation (January 1st, Teatro dei Rozzi; more info about the concert, ticket price and online presale on the site Toscana Gospel Festival).
In occasion of the Jubilee, the Opera Museum in Siena has been housing (since past December and until November 20, 2016) a figurative and artistic travel dedicated to one of the most fascinating paintings by Donatello - Madonna col bambino e quattro Cherubini (Madonna and Child with four Cherubs) - that will guide visitors till the San John's Baptistery passing through the Opera Museum and the "cripta" under the Cathedral.
Last chances to enjoy the Pietro Sadun exhibit in the Art National Gallery in Siena, as well as the art expositions displayed at the Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala - Brandi and Burri's, Felice Tagliaferri's, Ambrogio Lorenzetti's: they are all going to end by the end of January. More info on the Santa Maria della Scala website.
Stepping out to the province, where the rolling green hills rule over the panorama, we head to Montepulciano and its noble gold: Natale all’Enoteca del Nobile, Christmas at the Nobile Wine Shop to taste the "Vino Nobile of Montepulciano" surrounded by an impressive background, the Palazzo del Capitano in Piazza Grande (dates have still to be confirmed, last year it ended on January 6).
Tribute to the contemporary art in Lucca
Lucca celebrates art and the arrival of the Three Wise Men during this first month of the year: an exhibit dedicated to Italy during the World War II is on show till the end of January (31st) at the Giuseppe Lazzereschi Fundation in Porcari (In trincea come all'inferno - In trench as well as in hell).
Stepping back to the heart of Lucca, the Ragghianti Foundation will be home to a very interesting documentary exposition, Esporre Le Corbusier, till January 10 (closed on December 24, 25, 26, 31 and January 1st): documents, drawings and projects of Le Corbusier's architectural realizations, meetings, round table discussions and workshops with experts. Free entrance. De Chirico, Savino et les Italiens de Paris will be on exhibit till February 14, 2016 at the Lucca Museum: les italiens de Paris were a group of artists that met in Paris during the end of the 20's, all driven by the desire of giving contemporary art a different style, inspired to the Italian glourious artistic past and to those elements of Renaissance style that would have given Italian art a new hint, launching once again its importance in Paris, capital of France and of contemporary art.
Alongside with art, music and culture play a starring role in Lucca: celebrations for the great composer Giacomo Puccini - who was born in Lucca - keep on offering a rich program of events and performances in seveal locations of Lucca historical center; for a detailed calendar, take a look at this page. This festival entirely dedicated to Puccini will be ending on January 10.
Being in its fifth edition, the exposition Presepi e Diorami (every weekend - festivities included - till January 10 from 3 pm to 7 pm in Porcari) has gained a great success thanks to the many Italian and Spanish artists showing their works of art entirely dedicated to nativity scenes and realized with many different styles and techniques.
The Teatro dei Differenti in Barga - Garfagnana - will be home to two theatre shows that we strongly recommend taking part if you have the chance to: on January 12 there will be Sogni e Bisogni (Dreams and Needs), a comic and ironic show inspired to Moravia's novel "Io e lui" (I and He); info and ticket prices on this page. On January 22, instead, there will be Romeo and Juliet show, a modern and essential reinterpretation of the classic Shakespeare's tragedy by the theatre company Con-fusione.
Witching days waiting for the Befana in Pisa
The province of Pisa pays its tribute to the arrival of the Befana, the old hag that flies on a broomstick: in Piazza dei Priori in Volterra, there will be the Salvataggio della Befana (Befana rescue) on January 2, with exhibitions and entertainment for children that eagerly await the arrival of the old flying lady, while on January 6 the local gym will be housing the dancing show Befana sui pattini (Skating Befana). On January 6, the town center of Pomarance, Montegemoli and Montecerboli will be home to Arriva la Befana (Befana is coming), an entire day of games, entertainment, shows and more waiting her spectacular arrival. On January 9, in Pomarance there will be Sabato in Famiglia (Saturday with the family), a festival dedicated to the "clownerie" and magic.
Pistoia and province, a Christmas wonderland under the stars
On the 6th of January, on the Epiphany, Piazza del Duomo in Pistoia will be home to Arriva la Befana giù dal Campanile (the Befana witch comes down the bell tower). According to tradition, Befana is a Santa-like character that looks like a witch, with the appearance of an old hag, dressed in old clothes and flying on a broomstick: like Santa, she gives children who behave well toys and candies while coal goes to the naughty ones! A whole afternoon dedicated to fun for kids. For what to do for New Year's and the Epiphany in Pistoia, read this full article.
Baggio, a quaint old village set amidst the Pistoia Appennines, will be home to Baggio under the Stars, an itinerary through the tiny streets of the small town that guides you to the discovery of many marvelous nativity scenes spread out all over the village, with food games and tastings of local products (like necci and migliacci, a sort of salad crepe typical of the area made with pork blood). Until January 6th.
Last chances to visit the magic and surreal world of the Santa's House and the Elves' Forest in Montecatini Terme, as well as to shop downtown strolling through the many characteristic stands set up in occasion of the Borgo del Natale (Christmas Town): on January 6, in fact, this renowned thermal town will turn back into a quiet and nice location welcoming visitors for its natural hot springs. Montecatini on ice, instead, will be running through the end of Febraury, so there's no need to rush for ice skating: take your time to visit the town and enjoy its famous cialde (sweet local specialty).
Nature, protagonist of the new year in Grosseto and province
In Porto Ercole on the Mount Argentario, a quite old Befana will hang down from the Aldobrandesca Tower with an impressive show you should attend if you happen to be in the area on the 6th of January; similar manifestation will take place in Porto Santo Stefano (the other town of Argentario): the two old ladies will give all children sweets and Epiphany socks starting from 2.30/3 pm in the afternoon. Tombola and guided itinerary to the discovery of the local nativity scenes will give everyone other opportunities to spend a funny day. Grosseto as well will be celebrating the Befana throughout all the afternoon on January 6: she will arrive flying down from the Province Palace with many special effects (included a snowing sky!), give sweets and delicacies to kids and reach the Piazza del Duomo for the final and traditional bonfire (that represent the end of the Christmas festivities).
To celebrate the arrival of the new year, Follonica and Castiglione della Pescaia will be home to a... cold initiative: the first dive into the cold sea (on January 1)! If you're passionate of nature and want to start the 2016 off with the right food, there's a guided excursion through the Archaeological Park in Sovana and the Vie Cave that we highly recommend taking part (on January first). The following day, another guided visit will lead you to the discovery of the Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden) in Capalbio. On January 2 and 3, open wine cellars, typical products, music, entertainment and traditional markets will be the protagonist of the Olive Festival in Montiano. Finally, the Aquarium Mondo Marino in Massa Marittima will be welcoming the flying old lady giving sweets and presents to all children on January 3, when it will be also possible to feed the sharks and tropical fishes that live inside.
Prato: skating on ice
At the Omnia Center in Prato, the Omnia On Ice will be up until Sunday, February 28, 2016. The indoor ice skating rink is a lot of fun for young and old alike, until late night taking advantage that it is indoors.
Last chances to visit the art exhibit Verso Dove (Towards Where) at the San Domenico Museum in Prato, an interesting exposition of paintings considered some of the most representative expressions od the modern abstract expressionism artistic style (till January 10).
Olympic Nativities in Arezzo and province
Until the 6th of January, in Terranuova Bracciolini, as well as in Arezzo, everyone will also find traditional ice skating rinks to enjoy with the whole family.
Piazza Masaccio in San Giovanni Valdarno will be home to Verso Rio 2016, XIIth Rassegna dei Presepi - Towards Rio 2016 - an exposition of nativity scenes seen through the eyes of those Countries that will take part to the next Olympic Games (till January 6).
Head to Florence for the Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men
The spirit of Christmas also continues in the Cradle of Renaissance with all of the streets still decorated and illuminated by colored Christmas lights. The January calendar in Florence is rich in fashion and art events: take a look at the article exclusively dedicated to the events of Florence and province here. A preview: the Winter Park at the Obihall garden until the 6th of March gives you the chance to enjoy skating on ice and gliding down an iced slope without leaving the city; while the Fortezza da Basso will host the Pitti Fashion Events, starting on January 12th and going through January 29th with several dedicated fairs (Pitti Uomo, Donna, Bambino and Filati).
A manifestation you should absolutely attend if you're in Florence on January 6 is the Cavalcade of the Wise Men, a parade in historical costume that winds its way through the heart of Florence from Palazzo Pitti to Piazza del Duomo and representing the arrival of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem.