Christmas on the Hill 2019

Last Saturday, we got to go to Christmas on the Hill for the first time in several years!

It’s become a much bigger event since the last time we were there. There was a nativity petting zoo, with animals like sheep, llamas, and an adorable donkey who actually wanted everyone to pet him!

We also got to see a reindeer:

I always enjoy walking around The Hill.

The nativity scenes and other store window displays are a favorite thing to see:

We were also really excited to visit the new Piazza Imo…I can’t wait to go back in the spring when the fountain is on!

We took a tour of the Herbaria and learned how soap is made, which was very interesting, and said hello to the store mascot, Soapy:

And we saw Babbo Natale and La Befana:

I love spending an afternoon in such a wonderful local community!

Christmas on The Hill 2014

Today was one of our favorite days of the Christmas season…Christmas on The Hill!

The first thing we always do when we get there is look for all the nativities. It doesn’t matter how many times we see them, we still marvel at their beauty, and the way they tell the Christmas story!

We stopped by The Hill’s version of a Christmas market. There were items for sale, crafts for the children, and something new this year…salsiccia. It wasn’t the salamites we’ve grown accustomed to over the years, but it was still delicious!

There was Christmas spirit everywhere!

And Italian spirit everywhere, too, of course!

Bunnys’ favorite part of Christmas on The Hill is listening to La Befana tell her story at Gelato di Riso.

I love looking at St. Ambrose, the neighborhood church…it’s so beautiful!

Any visit to The Hill is fun, but Christmas on The Hill is even better!

Christmas on The Hill 2013

Today we made our annual trip to The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis to see the nativity scenes, hear La Befana tell her story, and eat salamites. This was an especially good day to be there, because today is the commemoration of Ambrose, the saint for whom the church that is the center of Hill life was named.

This year, while we were at Gelato Di Riso for the La Befana storytelling, we actually bought some gelato. Even though it was incredibly cold today, the gelato was a very welcome treat. I definitely want to go back there in the future (although, perhaps next time it will be when it’s warmer)!

Christmas on The Hill 2012

It’s hard to believe that Christmas on The Hill has already come and gone, but as always, it was fun!


The Nativity Walk is my favorite part of Christmastime on The Hill.


This was my favorite Nativity scene.


The detail on the pieces was amazing!


The buildings all look so festive at this time of year!



And I’ve never seen such a festive horse…it didn’t just have bells and bows, it had antlers and a red nose!


Even its feet were decorated!


Of course, we listened to La Befana tell her story.


We also stumbled across some sort of flash mob…it was very entertaining!


I love the Italian pride that is everywhere!




And the fact that the center of it all is St. Ambrose Catholic Church.



I have a favorite house on The Hill.


I love that space under the stairs that’s just perfect for a Nativity scene!


It’s nice to see local businesses get such good support from the crowds.


Quite a few of the buildings on The Hill have these green bricks…I wonder if there’s some kind of story behind them?


No trip to The Hill would be complete without a stop at Amighetti’s!


Another fun (and windy!), day in December on The Hill!


Christmas on the Hill 2011

Today, for the second year in a row, we went to “Christmas on The Hill.” I think it’s safe to say that this has become a new, yearly, family tradition!

One of my favorite parts of Christmas on The Hill is the nativity walk. All of the shops have nativity scenes in their windows, (some have several!), and many of them are from different places around the world. It’s really interesting to see all of the different styles and sizes, and the children loved going from window to window to find all of them.

Another favorite activity, and one that Bunny specifically wanted to do, is touring St. Ambrose Catholic Church. It is a magnificent building, and everything inside, from the ceiling, to the altar, to the organ, is grand. It was interesting comparing it both to our own church, and the Greek Orthodox Church we toured earlier this year.

As part of The Hill tour, led by Joe DeGregorio, (who also does paid tours of The Hill, by appointment, and tells awesome stories!), we learned some about the history of the neighborhood. I didn’t realize that when the area was first settled, the immigrants from Northern Italy, (the predominant settlers of The Hill), and those from Southern Italy didn’t get along. At all. Their dialects were even so different they had a hard time understanding each other! Those differences were resolved, however, as was evidence by the fact that our tour guide, who was awesome, is of Sicilian descent, and obviously has many friends in the neighborhood.

I also learned about some of the differences between the two groups, including that Northern Italians are more known for cream-based sauces on their food, (my favorite kind of Italian food), while Southern Italians are known for the traditional tomato-based sauces we typically think of when we’re talking about Italian food. Northern Italians are also more similar to Northern Europeans, (like my ancestors), while Southern Italians are the stereo-typical “New York Italians” that are portrayed in movies and television.

As a part of the tour of The Hill, we also got to go in the Italia-America Bocce Club. I’ve always been curious what the inside of that establishment looks like, and I have to say, it was nothing like I imagined, although, to be fair, I really had no idea what a bocce club looked like at all! It seemed like a very fun place to get together with friends and play a game!

No visit to Christmas on The Hill would be complete with sampling the salamites, and I finally learned what they are. They’re basically baby salamis, before they’re cured. So, the taste of salami, with the texture of a bratwurst. Delicious!

We stopped at Gelato Di Riso to hear “La Befana” tell her story, and learned a few songs in Italian, including “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The school children from the area are obviously familiar with Italian, as they sang along with no difficulty. Just another charming aspect of life on The Hill!

The children got to cut soap at the Herbaria. They were shocked to learn that you can use plain old cookie cutters for this purpose, although it certainly wouldn’t work on a regular bar of soap. The store smelled wonderful…like mint and lavender. You can smell the soap from several blocks away!

It’s also fun just to look at all of the different buildings and houses in the neighborhood. The Italian pride is very evident everywhere, which is a nice thing to see.

Much as I feel Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, even though I’m not, when we go to Christmas on The Hill, I feel as though I’m Italian for the day, and I have to admit, it’s a very fun feeling!

Christmas on the Hill

I mentioned that we would be having a field trip related to our “Christmas in Italy” day in school, and today was the day! For the first time, we went to “Christmas on the Hill.” For those unfamiliar with St. Louis, The Hill is a predominately Italian neighborhood on the south side of the city. Both Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola Sr. grew up here–their houses were across the street from each other. It’s a charming neighborhood, filled with restaurants and bakeries, and lots of Italian pride. And at the center of it all is the Catholic parish, St. Ambrose.

We arrived just in time to get some salamites. As best as I can tell, these are basically salami, but served bratwurst-style, on a bun. Even though they weren’t hot (it was cold and *very* windy), they were delicious. Moose really liked his, although he thought it was just a hot dog.

The salamite tent tried its best to blow away, but it was unsuccessful!

Moose doesn’t care what it’s called, he just thinks it’s delicious!

We then got to tour St. Ambrose. It’s a beautiful old church, with high ceilings, lots of artwork, and a beautiful altar. It was also nice and warm! We didn’t get to stay long, as they were preparing for a wedding, but it was really cool to be able to look around for a bit. And yes, there’s an Italian flag flying outside.

One of the big attractions of Christmas on the Hill (aside from the Salamites), is the nativity walk. The shops have beautiful nativity scenes set up in their windows, most of them from Italy. The children were especially excited to look at these, because in school yesterday, we learned that traditionally, Italian families don’t put the Gesù bambino figure in the manger until Christmas Eve. We looked at all the Presepi we could find, but only one of them hadn’t yet included the Infant (and it just happened to by my favorite nativity scene-a Fontanini).

Checking out one of the many nativity scenes.

This nativity scene was made by eighth graders at St. Ambrose school.

Another big attraction was listening to La Befana tell her story. This was done in a gelato shop, and the owners were great with all the children that attended. They had cider to drink before the story, and mini cones after. La Befana herself handed out candy, as well. It was fun to hear the story, told by La Befana “herself,” complete with Italian accent, and to have a chance to ask questions about the story. She also taught us a song about herself, in Italian–I’m sure the children won’t remember it, but it was cool that they had the chance to sing it through a few times. And I think we all remember the last line: “Viva, viva, La Befana!”

We also saw a man roasting chestnuts. Now, this isn’t really new to us–there is always chestnut roasting at Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO–but because there wasn’t a huge crowd, he was able to take some time to talk to the children. He explained to them that he was scoring the chestnuts with an “X” so that when they’re roasting, the moisture has a way to get out, lest they explode (or pop, as it says in the song). We also got to watch how he put them in the kettles, but lifting the lid of the kettle with a big stick through its handle, before pouring the chestnuts in. And they sure smelled good!

Of course, no trip to the hill is complete without a visit to Amighetti’s bakery. We brought home a loaf of their delicious bread, and also picked up a couple of deli sandwiches. It’s enough to make you wish you lived there, so you could always have that bread at your disposal! Overall, it was a great day, and I think it will become a new family tradition!

I leave you with some pictures of the Italian pride that is evident all over The Hill (the fire hydrants are my favorite!).

This immigrant statue (right outside the church) reminded me of the Walther statue we saw in Frohna, MO.