When commercialism, traffic and gaudy Chinese lights begin to blight your image of what Christmas in Italy should be like, it’s time to return to the past by visiting one of Italy’s tiny “V” towns.
By some quirk of linguistics Northern Lazio has numerous towns beginning with the letter “V”. With the provincial capital Viterbo in the center, the other “V” towns are located within a radius of 30 kilometres: Vignanello, Valentano, Vetralla, Vasanello, Vitorchiano and Vallerano.
Villa San Giovanni in Tuscia, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the Italian town with the longest name is also the smallest of the “V” towns with only 1,300 inhabitants.
Although a map of Italy may show them clustered together, each town has its own unique style, history and personality making them each worthy of a visit.
Vallerano sits among the Cimini hills and gorges and is known for its hazelnuts, wine production and lively summer festivals. The symbolic lily of the noble Farnese family adorns towers, fountains and the ancient walls that have kept the town’s medieval flavor in – and the cars out.
For Christmas the décor is traditional and low key with piped music enticing visitors to stroll along narrow Via Cellere and Via Nanino where doorways, piazzas and cantine are decorated with Christmas nativity scenes.
During the weekends leading up to Christmas, the main piazza is taken over by stands selling traditional holiday food, handmade gifts and a colorful train that circles through the town.
For more about the “V“ towns of Northern Lazio and how Christmas is celebrated here, see my website and blog.