Just days away from Christmas, Italians are taking care of the last shopping sprees, decorations and Holiday plans, whether at home or traveling. But there is always time for cooking some delicious dishes that are typical of this time of year!
In the sea village of Porto Santo Stefano, located in the Argentario Promontory – southern Tuscany, there is a sweet dish that is traditionally baked at home: the Pagnottella di Natale (Christmas Loaf)!
Here are the ingredients:
1 kg flour
1 kg dry figs
1 kg peeled almond
400 gr raisins
½ kg walnuts
½ kg hazelnuts
100 gr pine nuts
Orange peel cut into small pieces
100 gr jam
50 gr yeast (Italian lievito di birra)
And this is how you prepare the Pagnottella di Natale, Maremma style!
Cut the dry figs and the orange peel into small pieces. Dilute the yeast in lukewarm water and knead half of the flour to create a small bread. Carve a small X-shaped cut, cover it with a cloth and let it rise. When the small bread has doubled its volume, put it in a big bowl, work well the dough and add all the ingredients bit by bit, including the remaining flour. When everything is blended shape the dough like a big bread loaf and let it bake like bread it in the hot oven at 180°C.
Celebrating Christmas in the Maremma? Typical events revolve around reliving the Nativity and enjoying great food (as usual!).
The picturesque towns of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano both offer re-enactments of the birth of Christ: the local inhabitants dress up in costumes, from Baby Jesus to the Three Wise Men to the villagers of Bethlehem. The living crèches usually take place on given dates in December and January. In 2013, Porto Ercole will travel back in time on December 26th and 29th and then January 5th and 6th, while in Porto Santo Stefano the Nativity will be celebrated on December 26th and January 6th.
In the lovely towns around the Maremma you can also enjoy traditional Christmas markets, delighting yourself between gift ideas, delicious candies and colorful games for the small ones.
For the sporty travelers, there are a number of golf competitions that take place in the Argentario Golf Club and a fun race for the most adventurous ones: on the night of the 24th of December, runners take the statue of Baby Jesus from the Passionisti Convent to the Church of S. Stefano (about 10 km from the mountain to the sea) where they arrive at Midnight!