Holiday Family Fun in Florence

Photo by Kayla Smith

With the Christmas season now in full swing, the emphasis this week is on family and food, with of course festive musical entertainment, including caroling around the Oltrarno neighborhood on Dec. 18 at 6 pm, organized by St. Mark’s English Church (via Maggio 16); all are welcome to join in and sing.  The following is a guide to events.


The Children’s Lending Library will host its annual Christmas Party on Saturday, December 15 from 4 to 6 pm in the St. James Church undercroft (via B. Rucellai 9). The afternoon will be filled with games, crafts, a book reading, a visit from Santa Claus, caroling, refreshments and a raffle. This non-profit, volunteer-run association was founded in 1973 to cater to the children of the English-speaking community. The library’s resources include a wide range of English books and DVDs for kids from toddlers to 16-year-olds. The library is able to replenish its stock and cover costs thanks to donations and proceeds from holiday events. Entrance to the Christmas Party is free to all library members and only €3 for all non-members over the age of two.  (sienna kirk)

With a special focus on workshops for kids, and guided visits to the nearby Brancacci Chapel, the Fierucolina di Natale, a holiday market with crafts and produce from Tuscany’s organic farmers, will be held in Piazza del Carmine on Dec. 16 from 9 am to 7 pm.  In search of the perfect gift, browse stands displaying handmade Christmas decorations, biscotti and cakes, toys, handwoven clothing, handmade wooden bowls and utensils, hand-thrown ceramics, beeswax candles and freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil in addition to plant-based soaps.

The Four Seasons Hotel of Florence will open its doors to the public once again this year for the 11th edition of “Open Day” in the grand Gherardesca garden on December 16 from 10 am to 4 pm. The benefit event welcomed over 8,000 visitors in 2017 and last year’s proceeds of more than €65,000 used for the reconstruction of two schools that were heavily damaged by the storm that struck Livorno in September 2017.

This year, funds will be donated to the Istituto degli Innocenti, a safe haven for children. The goal is to repurpose the institute’s 22,000 sq. ft. garden for use not only as a playground, but as a place for kids to learn about plants and nature.

For only €1, guests can stroll through the beautiful grounds while listening to live music. For younger visitors, the Compagnia di Babbo Natale will dress up like Santa Claus to sing Christmas carols; the famed Melograno children’s choir will also perform.  Two nativity scenes will be on display, one of which is life-size.

A large Christmas market will offer Ginori porcelain, Pedersoli linen, and many more gift items as well as holiday culinary traditions such as roasted chestnuts, crepes and polenta. There will be a designated area in the park for lovers of gourmet food where many important Florentine restaurants such as Borgo San Jacopo, Buca Lapi, Fuori D’Acqua, Palagio Four Seasons and others will serve their signature dishes.