Remembering Christmas as a child at the Torre.

Christmas is the time we all remember childhood and celebrate all that is good in the world. For me, Christmas at the Torre was one of the highlights of growing up there.

I remember doing our giant Christmas puzzle by the fire, posting our letters to Father Christmas into the huge open fireplace, where a million red sparks would fly upward magically transmitting our wishes straight to Lapland.  We would celebrate as all Italians on Christmas Eve, with the last non meat based meal of advent, a fish feast. Our father being from Mantova in the north of Italy, continued his tradition of eating marinated eel, much to the disgust of the rest of us, followed by the freshest of fresh 'tortelli di zucca', pumpkin ravioli, the most delicious answer to the Catholic meat fast during advent. An unexpectedly sweet taste balanced out by butter, sage and the best parmesan sprinkled on top, my father would have driven us the four hour round trip to his hometown to collect these parcels of sweetness fresh from the shop.

Then, it would be Stilton cheese duly imported from London from one of my mother's visits home. We would end with Pandoro, much friendlier for small children than the now ubiquitous Panettone, and devoid of candid fruits

. One year, I remember my older brother ingeniously rigging up a little bell attached to the door by a rope through a gap in the panelling near his bed in the Cubo room, in order to catch Santa out, which he succeeded in doing. The next day it was leftover Panettone toasted with brandy butter on top, the best of both worlds.

Wherever you are this Christmas, we wish you a wonderful festive season and a very happy New Year!