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Christmas Comes to Girasole

Christmas Comes to Girasole

Written by Middleburg Life Staff | Photos courtesy of Gabriella Patierno

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with authentic Italian food in a festive setting? For those looking to add a little Christmas cheer to a weekday dinner or date night, Girasole in The Plains, Virginia, is continuing the family tradition of decking the halls with twinkling lights, gorgeous garlands, delicate snowflakes, and a towering tree.

The tradition of over-the-top decorations was started by owner Lydia Patierno’s mother, Genevieve, in 1991. Her daughter, Gabriella, shares, “Each year my grandmother would choose a different theme and color palette from which to make the designs for the decorations. Fruit, candy canes, more Santa Claus[es] than you ever thought possible for one person to own, reindeer and foxes, upside down trees, angels, giant spindle ornaments, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, and great big bows adorning every wreath (and there are a lot of wreaths).”

She continues, “My grandmother would oversee it all, never holding her breath if she did not like how something was arranged. Her vision and exactness created something new and spectacular every year. Some years have even contained decorations that my grandmother painted herself.”

Her inspiration was seemingly limitless. “The colors have ranged from purple to all silver or gold, red and white, pink, royal blue, copper, and many combinations between the colors. No nook or cranny is ever neglected,” Gabriella explains.

Though she has since passed, the grandmother’s tradition is carried on by Lydia and a handful of volunteers. “Since my grandmother’s passing, my mother continues the tradition, with help from friends and former employees who were there helping decorate when my grandmother was still alive.”

And it is no small feat. “It is a big process and it takes at least one week to finish putting all the decorations up, and usually a few more days for my mom to make the finishing touches on every last bow and garland,” shares Gabriella.

This year promises to be particularly special as Girasole is also preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024. Leading up to the anniversary, the restaurant will offer special holiday events including a Holiday Art, Wine, & Gift Sale on Sunday, December 10, from 2 to 6 p.m.; a Holiday Wine Tasting on Sunday, December 10, at 2:30 p.m.; and Christmas Eve dinner and a New Year’s Eve Dinner with four courses and an optional wine pairing.

For the anniversary, Gabriella shares, “For 2024 we already have three cooking demonstrations with my dad, Chef Lou, to take place in January, February, and March. I am trying to arrange some wine dinners with vintners as well throughout the year.” ML

Posted on: December 11, 2023

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