Here I am again, my second Christmas in New York and I confirm my love for this city.
If there’s one thing Americans can do is decorate and decorate big, and partying. And every year they do it like masters, everything is exaggerated and extravagant, spectacular. This is New York at Christmas, a great show with lots of music, lights and choreography 24/7 at the only price of a walk.
As an imported Italian in love with my city and with how every year Florence manages somehow to embellish (if possible) its streets with more or less sober and elegant decorations, I didn’t realize how much our efforts were actually minimal, if we can call them efforts at all.
Last week, after a walk in Central Park (which makes me love autumn even more) I continued on 5th Ave just to increase the pain caused by my favorite shoes that after 50 blocks were starting to rebel. A friend visiting was surprised saying “there are so many people around!” And I could not help but respond, “are you serious?! the streets are pretty much empty!”.
I mean it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so many people were at work and the rest of them probably were traveling or had already reached their families all over the country. There were basically just tourists around (which is still enough) and they really were not crazy as usual which allowed me to enjoy the windows and the lights in the holy (kind of) peace.
But let me take you on a walk starting from the Plaza Hotel, in front of which every time my thoughts turn to “Home Alone” or Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.” The huge wreaths on the windows are of impeccable elegance that is unfortunately ruined if you turn on the opposite side from Cartier’s coarse decoration (which, let me tell you, in Florence are much more understated and refined).
Leaving the Plaza Hotel on 58th st some giant, fabulous candy canes of red lights that look like the result of the perverse mind of Tim Burton do not go unnoticed, but then we head to the 5th Ave and you would be literally dazzled/blinded by the glittering Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, my absolute favorite. I admit I spent a good half an hour just on that corner feeling satisfied and without any need to move forward. Every year Bergdorf Goodman spares no expense and the visual merchandiser should really be called artists without a doubt. Everything from the smallest details of the clothes, mannequins, shoes and accessories, and everything is part of the installation, screams LIGHT out loud but with flawless refinement. Such a pity then that you have to leave the elegance for the second worst decoration ever of another historic jewelry store.
Tiffanys, which should be the finesse of aquamarine boxes and marriage proposals, the class of a diamond and Audrey Hepburn , is actually just the tacky emblem of the absence of taste. There are huge yellow and white pineapples all over the building, not to mention the tremendous gigantic diamond dangling above your heads in the middle of the street (which is kind of scary).
Luckily going ahead on the right, hidden by the glow of 5th Avenue, on 55th st we can see the Peninsula Hotel with its a little British touch and its elegant deers above the main entrance, a moment to recover from the not at all needed glow just passed.
And then we go back on the most famous street in the world to round off our Christmas movie walk. I know that New York is huge and we only walked maybe ten blocks but after the Rockefeller Center we will stop. We will be captured by the music in front of us, and after we will realize that sparkles that attract us are not from the largest tree in the world but those of Saks 5th Avenue and its light show, we’ll be so drunk (of Christmas) that we would just want to take a break, perhaps to skate on the most famous (and expensive) ice rink in Manhattan, and why not, maybe even pick up a hot chocolate in one of those super commercial and so criticized red cups of Starbucks.