When the New Year arrives, the tradition is to eat twelve grapes synchronized exactly with the twelve dongs of the church bells. Turns out it’s a lot harder than it sounds and is very funny to take part in! They say you’ll be blessed with good luck the following year.
Taking a step back, we begin the night by exploring the equivalent of Barcelona’s time square where they have a midnight-dropping ball and all. We then venture to a festive tapas place called Paco Meralgo, where they turn the atmosphere into a bit of party come midnight handing out 12 grapes along with a goody bag of silly toys.
We begin the evening that is to end the year with a dinner at our Airbnb complete with prosciutto, cheese, bread, and wine. The perfect and simple Italian dinner. But before it gets too late, we head out to the center of town to the Piazza San Carlo.
There is live music on a large stage at one end of the piazza. There are people selling silly, light-up, new years themed hats. A couple of the bars around the piazza are open, but much too crowded to consider entering. Groups of people are sending up flying lanterns. The music shifts from folk to pop to opera and back again. The crowd continues to file into the piazza.
As the midnight hour draws near, people start pulling out their plastic cups and bottles of champagne. Others prepare their sparklers and fireworks. And others just keep watch of the time as if the entire crowd isn’t about to countdown from 10.
The part of this scene that we weren’t quite prepared for was the shock waves sent through the piazza from the fireworks. It is almost as if bombs are going off all around us. It might seem safer if the fireworks weren’t being thrown into the air haphazardly by crowd members, but as a result, there is almost a chaos that breaks out at midnight. Fireworks, sparklers, and music all combine for a crazy finish to New Years.