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Eight in the morning is still too early for my body, but I’m managing this new schedule surprisingly well, and was up and out by 8:30 this morning as I took on the rainy commute again sans-bike. I am becoming very Italian, but I draw the line at throwing on a poncho and braving the storm on two wheels. I’ll happily have endless umbrella wars on the sidewalks than try and not get too wet and keeping my hands warm enough to maneuver anything. I may only be thirty, but I have the hands of a withered old woman and have since I was about eleven, and they do not function in cold wet weather. I can barely open my umbrella nevermind break for tourists.

So I walked, and as I strolled between the arches in Piazza Liberta, I saw blue flashing lights heading down the large wide road of the viale, but there were no sirens. Was it a soccer team? There is a game tomorrow but 8 am seems odd. Political someone? I stood at the corner waiting for the walk signal to turn green as the cars flew by and the blue lights came closer, and then I realized as they passed us. It was the Christmas tree. Bouncing on the back of a long truck bed, the Christmas tree for the Duomo was coming into town. This year, it came from an area in the north of Italy (where proper Christmas Trees grow) near Bolzano called Moena.

I crossed the viale as it made the tight corner to head down into the center. Luckily, I was headed right past where it was going to end up. I snagged a bus for a straightaway for a few moments, listening to the teenagers heading to class complain miserably about the rain, and hopped out again next to their high school, which has been a school longer than the US has been a country.

Just a few yards ahead and there it was, still piled onto the back of the truck, but Christmas was coming to Florence, and I got to see it on my walk to work. If you want to see a quick video of the tree, you can see it on my Instagram story at @liharv, as well as a bit of the rest of my day. Though after walking over a tranquil Arno this morning, it roared to life again after downpours crushed the city all day. At least they won’t have to water the tree.

Tree lightings don’t happen until the 8th of December in Italy because Italians still like Mary and Jesus (or tradition?) enough to give everyone the Holy day of the Immaculate Conception off, and so begins the real Christmas season.They say it won’t rain tomorrow. All we can do is pray. Meanwhile, my social media circuit is full of messages about broken snowblowers and gorgeous photos of beautiful white landscapes full of blankets of snow on Christmas lights. There isn’t any snow in sight here but the lights strung through the streets, the mulled cider in the little wooden Christmas market, and the big Christmas tree from where the snow is, all makes up for the lack of it.

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