Dear Santa Claus,

The Painted House, near Piazza del Popolo, Todi – Umbria.
It’s the beginning of the letter that you find stuck between the old christmas tree’s branches and balls in the living room of your new house.

Christmas is coming and the warm winter sunlight illuminates the view from your window: the medieval city which many people consider the most liveable in the world.

You have in your hands a brochure full of events, exhibitions, conferences and workshops that can make your visit to Todi an experience that is sure to leave something unexpected. Because you know, we all need a little holiday now and then.

The new Enrico Quattrini gallery of plaster casts, dedicated to a great master of 20th-century Italian sculpture, has just opened in the town centre. Curiosity makes you cross the threshold of the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate and the painted vault elicits an "ohh" halfway between amazement and wonder. You never thought you would find so much beauty in a small church.

Piazza del Popolo with its large illuminated tree and the cheerful chatter of the people makes the atmosphere even more inviting. The facades of the historic buildings, as well as the Cathedral, are all decorated. The ice skating rink reflects the glittering purple of the lights as children and adults alike whiz by on the ice.

Christmas for you is family, friends, mornings together, time for you. A break from the hustle and bustle of work and the desire to do new things. Travel and pictures to frame. Happy memories. And Todi seems to have all these characteristics.

The air, filled with the delicate aroma of cinnamon, makes your evening tour even more evocative as you happily nibble on a small walking gingerbread, letting the chocolate melt in your mouth.

The little travelling train will take you on a discovery of the alleyways of the Old Town centre, letting you be won over by the festively decorated shop windows, the details to be discovered, and the shops that tell a piece of history that you don't yet know.

As you pass by the Temple of San Fortunato, you notice that it resembles a painting silhouetted against the rosy sky at sunset. You enter for one last suggestive visit. You carefully climb the steps and find yourself at the top of the bell tower. Below you the countryside opens up, the autumn colours of the fields and in the distance the unmistakable profile of the olive trees, the princes of this land. A little further on, the dome of the Consolazione Church, the symbol of Todi, illuminates the valley like a lighthouse.

Evening falls and the cold creeps under your coat: the heavy red jumper you are so fond of cannot protect you. Time to return to base, the mission is almost under way.

It's 24 December.

The boots are waiting for a final polish, the sack is loaded with gifts to be delivered, Todi is waiting for you and you are the same old Santa Claus as always.