Gubbio is full of christmas cheer.  The weekly market postponed to wednesday this week on account of the public holiday heralded the onset of Christmas.

Stalls were laden with huge hunky hams and  thick firm sausages, whole pecorino cheeses and crumbly parmesan.  Plump phallic Artichokes are very much in season (here they are sold with a large stalk attached) and clementines, oranges and satsumas all freshly delivered from Sicily literally overflowing  their containers.  Baskets of nuts of various sizes and shapes hang on every corner.  The perfume of porchetta, the herb stuffed whole roast pig which is a particular speciality of Umbria, lingered in the air as perople munched merrily.

As dusk arrives  the fabled World’s Largest Christmas Tree now erected over the town is lit and suddenly comes to life.  The streets of the old town are festooned with christmas lights, creating the effect of magical winding tunnels, brightly lit shop windows dressed in reds, greens and golds, abound with multitudinious presents as people bustle past in the chill crisp winter air.  Small side streets hide christmas displays, garages and caves transformed into biblical scenes with full size working models and astonishing reality.

The Rocca Paolina in Perugia is currently home to a ginormous craft and ecological market, ith stalls selling goods ranging from panettone, chocolats, prosciutto, peccorino, sagrntino wines, ceramics, knitwear, hats, leather-goods and hand crafted papers, indeed all your christmas shopping needs in one ancient underground medieval city.

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