The story of an Italian Christmas tree

by Rebecca Bricker on December 23, 2012

I have a beautiful little Christmas tree this year. It’s a live tree, about as tall as I am, from Tuscany’s Casentino Valley.

For the past month or so, I’ve been collecting ornaments for this tree.

The collecting began at Passamaneria Valmar, a Florence shop known for its elegant curtain and drawer tassels, trims, ribbons, decorative cushions, velvet-covered trays, fabric-swathed side tables, tablecloths and runners. (Passamaneria means trimmings.) I was amazed by the intricate work of the tassels and imagined how beautiful they would look on a Christmas tree.

I asked the owners if they could make something for the top of my tree. The project went to Monica, who has worked at Valmar for 30 years – since she was 15. I had the pleasure of watching Monica do her magic one day, in Valmar’s workshop above the store.

This is the beautiful angel she made for me… >>>

Letizia Fiorini, the Florence puppet maker who has appeared on this blog, created an owl ( <<< nestled here in Valmar ribbon).

An old Florence haberdashery Quercioli & Lucherini (at Via Porta Rossa 45/r) provided trims – with playing cards, dice and the red, green and white stripes of the Italian flag – for bows, in remembrance of my late mother-in-law, Lily, who was a war bride from Trieste. She loved cards and casinos.


At a charity Christmas mercato (market) in Florence, I purchased a flower fairy made at a local women’s prison.




A carnivale mask and a bookmark decorated with Murano glass beads are souvenirs from Venice. A small doily that looks like a snowflake comes from the Venetian island of Burano, known for its lace.




And as the final touch, a fleur-de-lis – the emblem of Florence…







It has been five years since I’ve had a Christmas tree – a consequence of my vagabond journey that happily has brought me back to Italy. A few boxes of treasured ornaments, safely stored in California, await another Christmas. But this year, I start a new box of ornaments – the souvenirs of a new chapter in life.


     Buon Natale!















Jackie Lamothe December 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Wish I could pull a ‘Samantha Bewitched twitch” and be there to knock on your door wishing you a Buon Natale and seeing your splendid tree. I am so loving your photos, Rebecca. Thank you so much.

nora December 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Merry Christmas, Becky! Your tree is a beautiful storyboard of your current adventure. Hope you can find a cup of eggnog on Christmas Day! May the new year find you surrounded by love and beauty.

Marion Salter December 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Merry Christmas, Becky! I love your little tree! What a better way to remember the
adventures in your life than with ornaments for your tree. Can’t wait for all of us
to get together next year so you can share all your wonderful adventures.

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