This is the second article of our three-part series dedicated to Corporate Christmas Events in Italy, aimed at companies that want to celebrate the end of the year with a unique experience abroad. If you are tired of holiday parties and meetings no-one wants to go to, at Italian Special Occasions DMC we have some creative proposals for an unforgettable corporate Christmas gathering in Italy. We started with innovative ideas for winter retreats in central Italy, and today we move towards the “Mezzogiorno” – or southern Italy.
At the end of the year, most of us dream of detaching our minds and body from the concrete jungle and hustle of bustle of daily stress, especially if we live or work in cities. An idyllic island like Sicily is just what you and your employees, clients or colleagues need: the colors, scents, tastes and history of this territory have bewitched visitors for centuries. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe put it: “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”
Sicily is the island of citrus fruits. The presence of citrus plants is deeply rooted in the local territory, both in its environment – characterized by evergreen gardens dotted with evocative orange and yellow fruits – and its typical cuisine. Citrus is the perfect ingredient for a group to discover Sicily through taste, and winter is the perfect season because you can participate in the harvest of lemons and oranges!
At Italian Special Occasions DMC, we collaborate with selected farms that have only organic orange groves or that produce products (such as jams and perfumes) by using exclusively organic fruits. Just imagine your group among the orchards as they help locals pick oranges and lemons and learn about traditional harvest methods. They can be organized in teams that have different tasks: this is both a teambuilding activity as well as a rewarding learning experience. One of our favorite hidden gems is a luxurious farm venue located near Mount Etna: here your group can walk through “fragrant paths” to learn about local medicinal and aromatic herbs.
A Sicilian farm and its orchard also provide for a fantastic venue where to celebrate an original Christmas corporate party! For example, you can avoid the normal, commercial decorations of the season, and instead choose something that is linked to the orange harvest. Your Christmas flowers of choice could be the fragrant zagara, which is the orange blossom of the citrus tree, and the typical Gelsolmino Siciliano (Sicilian jasmine).
We can help you plan and organize a themed gala dinner that takes your attendees through a sensorial discovery of Sicily’s history. For example, actors and dancers recreate scenes of different cultural dominations; a theme that is also reflected in the cooking shows performed by the Chefs, who demonstrate how Sicilian food has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences; while expert sommeliers explain how to taste the unique wines that this volcanic land produces.
Another region where you can enjoy a typically warm and sunny winter is Apulia, Italy’s heel. In areas like the Itria Valley, your group will be awe-struck by the natural and manmade landscapes. The Castellana Caves are one major local natural attraction. This remarkable karst cave system features several grottos, among which the “Caverna Bianca” (white cave) with very white and translucent stalagmites, and “La Grave” (the abyss), where big sunbeams filter down from an opening in the ceiling and create magical effects on the walls. After exploring the secrets of Earth under the ground, the attendees of your corporate Christmas retreat can put their survival skills to the test with some fun Orienteering. This can take place in the woods that surround the typical trulli of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apulia is a land of artisans, and your group can actively partake in the creation of Christmas decorations or gifts by learning from and working with local artists. For example, participants can join painting workshops to learn how to decorate terracotta and wood objects, and leatherwork classes to understand how purses and belts are created with quality Italian leather. You can admire a precious exhibition of Nativity crafts in the town of Canosa, which also hosts a spectacular Presepe Vivente (Living Nativity) with 150 figures over an area of 6000 m²!
Wondering how to make your corporate Christmas party in Apulia simply unforgettable? Make sure it includes a Pizzica lesson for your participants! This is the music that marked the ancient healing ritual against the bite of a poisonous tarantula. According to local tradition, tambourines should be beaten incessantly in order to expel the demon thought to have taken possession of the victim. The hypnotic rhythm of the tambourine combined with a frenzied dance healed of the poison. At the end of the Pizzica lesson, each team of your Italian corporate retreat must present a small performance, accompanied by a famous musical group of Pizzica del Salento. May the best win… and may the Christmas party fun begin!