December 24th 2014 - Siena, Italy - Day 129

Christmas Eve brought us back to Siena for one last shopping push.  While Stacie and I were here on the 22nd she decided to get Lea a phone case with a picture of her friends on the back as a Christmas gift.  We ordered it on the 22nd, but they could not complete it the same day so we had to go back to pick it up.  Stacie had completed all her shopping the last time we were here, but Peter, Lea and I all had more to do. 

We went for a long hike in the morning and then got ready quickly and were out the door by 11:45.  Most shops in Italy close between 1 and 4, so by the time we arrived in Siena, parked and walked into the shopping district we only had about 45 minutes left.  Lea and I took off on a mission and within 45 mins we had most of our work done.  We headed back to our arranged meeting spot (a little restaurant we wanted to try) and met Stacie and Peter along the way.  

They had some success, but Peter still had more to do (as did I).  We went in to the restaurant and had a wonderful lunch.  I had Pinci pasta with a meat sauce which was phenomenal.  Pinci is a really fat spaghetti which is a speciality here in Tuscany and we have all fallen for it.   

Enjoying our Christmas Eve lunch

After lunch we decided the remainder of the shopping could be done in Montalcino, so we headed home.  Peter and I both went out for a while and the girls got ready for the evening.  When we returned all of us were set for gifts and we started Christmas Eve in earnest.  

The town was having a Christmas Eve celebration in their main square and we wanted to go see what was happening.  We wandered up the street and found lots of kids and parents mulling around chatting along with free hot chocolate.  

Piazza de Popolo on Christmas Eve

The kids went and got some and were enjoying it when the guy who was serving it walked up to Stacie and I and handed us our cups, which was very kind.  The hot chocolate here is literally thick hot chocolate, its incredibly rich, but you can't drink too much.  

Chicolata Calda

On the way back home we found carolers singing White Christmas in Italian in front of the town nativity scene - it was the kind of magical experience you always hope for.  

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas - in Italian

We had decided to have Lasagna on Christmas Eve, so Stacie and I worked on that while the kids hung out in the kitchen with us and enjoyed a Christmas Eve tradition - the Grinch Drink.  We did not have all the ingredients so we had to improvise, but the kids loved it.

The Grinch Drink

 Once the lasagna was in the oven we decided it was time for a new Christmas tradition - the white elephant gift.  The process was fun and the gifts were great, we had plato, a multicolor pen, a fan keychain and a Pinoccho yoyo and top.

Once the white elephant was over we had dinner (which was incredible) and then went upstairs for another Gombert Christmas tradition, watching Elf on Christmas Eve.  

The day was long, but we accomplished all that we wanted to and were all feeling very much in the Christmas spirit as we nestled into our beds.