Christmas time in Venice is different

Christmas in Venice is different. I would say that "Christmas time disembarks in the lagoon"  on ... 20 December. This is when you really notice that people are preparing for the festive days ahead during the last ten days of the year. But it comes here in a much quieter way compared to other countries. Here I give you some suggestions on how one can really benefit from these darkest and most quiet days of the year.
20 years ago when I was a child I simply cannot remember flamboyant and bright Christmas lights we have got used to in some many places in Europe and America. Just a few days before Christmas I noted how in the Mercerie, precisely the Bottega Veneta store located just after the Ponte dei Barateri bridge, put out some (real) dark-green fir branches intervoven into ghirlands that smelled heavenly, as if fresh from the wood. So they put up those green twigs around the entrance door of their store and along the shop windows, and nothing else. A few years later I noticed how they added red bands to the fir twigs.
Ponte della Corona, Castello
Then it was Piazza San Marco where the luminarie went up (read more about these lights on the Website of Associazione Piazza San Marco). And finally, these four days before Christmas, other stores like Coin followed and put bright accents to the otherwise still and dark town, wrapped in fog. They put up bright Christmas day, mostly artificial ones, decorated with red and golden Christmas balls made of wool, brilliant paper or wood.
Just two small fir trees, without decoration, are placed at the entrance of the San Zulian Church, in the midst of the Venetian shopping zone "Mercerie"
These days, the stores in the Mercerie put up the first Christmas lights (and often, delicate but not flamboyant decorations) in the last week of November.
Lifestyle store, Calle dei Fabbri - White and red, fluffly and glittering decoration
But one thing is true here in Venice: With the exception of the main thoroughways, Christmas decorations and lights are rare in town, compared to other places in the world. With some exceptions - we have a sort of "Christmas landscape" store here in Venice, it is the Thun store located near between Ponte della Fava and Campo San Bartolomeo.
Thun in Venice: In 2011, Thun set up their presepio on the Piazzetta
White and red decorated shop window, with stella di Natale motives: Thun, Venezia
But if you continue just a few more steps towards the bridge and Chiesa della Fava, it looks completely different, and you have the town completely to yourselves, with no trace of Christmas decoration.
It is very dark and still, and the waters in the canals take on that typical turquoise shade so unexpected for December. A few days ago I found the perfect description online, of what Venice is like in the last two weeks before Christmas. by A Guest in Venice.
Here is an excerpt, and I have included photos for you to take in this exceptional atmosphere of what Venice is like in these last two weeks to go until Christmas: 
"Venice is known to be a unique city, in every aspect. Therefore the Christmas period is also partly different from the other cities. Extreme consumerism, the rush for the last presents, the twinkling lights in shop windows and shopping malls, chaotic traffic are decidedly less stressed elements here". 
La stagione degli agrumi: Citrus fruit trees on sale at the Rialto market ...
"Everything is more sober, ... more respectful of the true significance of Christmas, in an atmosphere which is festive in any case, but more suited to the city spirit..." 
Calle San Luca, before night comes early these days (around 4:30 pm)
"Of course, the shop windows are dressed elegantly, the main streets are made even more suggestive by the traditional Christmas lights and Christmas shopping is a part of the attractions of the moment.."
Reflections of the houses lining Rio dell'Osmarin
Very romantic: turquoise-colored waters of Rio San Provolo, just before night comes .. 
"But those who know and choose Venice in this period know they will also find other values. Its innate romantic spirit, for instance, emerges right in this period, where “big tourism” seems to let go of its grip for a moment, leaving the city free to live as it has always done, in that extraordinary blend of elements built throughout the centuries by nature and by man." 
Tracing the winding urban landscape like centuries ago: Rio San Provolo meets Rio dell'Osmarin
"Here it is then at this time, laid bare in its fragility and the extraordinary beauty of its locations and its atmospheres, unchanged through time.."
Where Marco Polo lived: Sotoportego di Corte Seconda del Milion
"When asked what to do in town, we should like to answer… let go, be free to lose yourselves amongst the alleys, crossing bridges and quays until you discover something that is wonderful in any case: a view, a stone, a glance, a feeling…" 
Discover where Marco Polo lived ... (upcoming blog post)
So this is the time when you have Venice to yourselves - here are a few suggestions of mine how you could spend one of these days, 10 days before Christmas, in Venice:
Enjoy lunch in the sun, next to the pozzo (fountain) in Campo San Fantin

  • Sit down and enjoy the Bacino di San Marco in the sun, under the fir trees in the sun, on a white marble bench and take in the panoramic view all for yourself...
  • Discover where Marco Polo lived..
  • Discover how the leaves on the trees turn slightly yellow and glitter in the sun..
  • Go to a very special bookstore in Calle del Paradiso and discover their windows and great selection of books..
Calle del Paradiso, between Salizzada San Lio and Campo Santa Maria Formosa ..
A lot of exclusive books available only here (and a good source for blog writing:-)): Libreria Filippi
  • Get all the ingredients to bake some delicious Venetian Christmas cookies ..
  • Enjoy lunch in Campo San Fantin, in the sun..
  • Enjoy Venetian vellutate d'inverno, like chick peas soup, or a creamy Risotto al radicchio di Treviso..
  • Taste hot chocolate in Caffè Lavena, that will open again on 20 December..
The leaves of "my" fig tree turn yellow ..
Vellutata di ceci con puntarelle e baccalà - Hotel Monaco e Gran Canal
  • Learn more about Venetian gourmandies at Vecio Fritolin on 16 December including a book presentation (Pret-à-gourmet)..
  • Warm up and offer yourselves a great dinner including a creamy soup at Hotel Monaco e Gran Canal - I recommend the chick pea soup with puntarelle salad and baccalà..
  • And afterwards it is time for an evening walk to discover the window of Fantin, already festively decorated in red and white .. to be followed ..
Campo San Fantin at night
Fantin, the Venetian Flower Store