Boun Natale is Italian for Merry Christmas. It is also the name given to the North End Holiday Stroll which takes place on the first Friday of December from 7pm to 11pm. This year marked the fourth annual - providing shoppers the opportunity to take advantage of significant sales and one-night-only discounts at local businesses. Additionally, shops show their hospitality by offering light refreshments (some alcoholic, some non) to strollers. An officicial "passport" is encouraged if you plan to visit every store. Your completed passport can be returned to any of the participating retailers before the end of the night for entry to win a basket with local goodies and gift certificates. The first stop on a long list of 21 was Twilight a contemporary womens clothing and accessories boutique located at 12 Fleet Street. Twilight was generously offering a 20% discount on all dresses. They feature chic night-on-the-town ensembles from modern designers such as Nicole Miller, BCBG and Betsey Johnson. We were greeted immediately upon entering and offered a glass raspberry soaked champagne punch and treated to a generous spread of mini cupcakes, cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries. As we made our way down the far end of Hanover Street we visited Phillips Salon, Casa di Stile another trendy clothing boutique, a Matter of Face cosmetics and skin care shop and in-jean-ius - a clothing store specializing in you guessed it - jeans! Veggies and wine were offered at a Matter of Face. Brightly colored candy jars and shaken Stoli Blueberry vodka & pink lemonade drinks greeted us at in-jean-us.
But the best spread by far was at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. This luxury hotel is slightly off the beaten path, but the spot on the stroll not to be missed. The hospitality was pleasantly overwhelming, as was this hot chocolate and cider bar. Talk about going all out! Check out these whipped cream toppings. My decadent Italian hot chocolate is topped with pink peppermint whipped cream and crushed heath bar.The toppings didn't stop there. From crushed candy cane to brandy infused whipped cream, to chocolate and caramel sauces and of course mini marshmallows, I wanted to top my drink with a spoonful of each! They also had a cookie bar where we choose from a fresh baked assortment of gingerbread men and women, chocolate chip or cranberry oatmeal. They were soft, chewy and topped on the spot with cream cheese frosting.
We hung out for awhile and even had our picture taken with Santa.
On our way out I couldn't resist another go round at the hot drink table. I sampled the cider and piled it with the brandy whipped cream and caramel sauce. From here we backtracked down the other side of Hanover, stopping at the newly opened Sava Studios which is a photography studio and clothing boutique in one. A unique concept owned by a professional sister team, Stephanie is the photographer and studio manager and Christine the make-up artist and retail manager. We browsed the North End Gallery, made a quick stop in at North Bennet Street School, sipped white wine in Sedurre and browsed the clothing racks and jewelry tables at one of my favorites offering more affordable fashions, Bobbles & Lace. Bobbles & Lace is located at 26 Prince Street. (Note:certain photos were taken during daytime hours.)
The last stop before Adam and I parted ways was at Clutch hidden over on 101 Endicott Street. Clutch is a newly opened high end consignment shop. The staff was super friendly and offered an expansive champagne and cheese and cracker spread.
The Velvet Fly on Parmenter is a mix of modern and vintage designer clothing, shoes and handbags.
They also poured champagne which complimented the sweet chocolate peppermint bark.Vintage Santa was a festive touch!From here I made my wait into two Salem Street favorites. I visit both Aquire and Shake the Tree often in search of treasures, trinkets and any occasion gift items. They are, for me, neighborhood staples.
Acquire (above) is an interior design boutique that specializes in a mix of contemporary and antique household decor and furniture. Shake the Tree is a trendy boutique featuring unique gift items, eclectic kitchen ware and funky household treasures among designer clothing racks, mixed-media jewelry and stylish handbags.
I cut over to the beginning of Hanover Street where a few more shops awaited. High Gear and Filthy Rich Celebrity Jewelry offer a wide array of high quality jewelry at varying price points, beginning at affordable. High Gear offered shoppers White Pear Arbor Mist and chips. Filthy Rich didn't offer much by way of a spread, unless I was too late to the party. LIT Boutique is one of the larger clothing shops in the North End, that also begins at an affordable price point. I've scored some decent deals on cute dresses and tops here. The staff are always super sweet and helpful. They poured a sample of LaMarca Prosecco. (I'm tipsy now so a small portion is probably a good thing!)I'm almost done! Midway down Hanover you'll find Sol Optics, the local sunglasses boutique. On the next block is The Wine Bottega, specializing in small production hand crafted wines from around the globe. Their motto is based off the fact that wine is a journey, not a destination.Their exposed brick walls, tastefully designed tapestries and polished wood shelving create a warm and inviting space. At The Wine Botegga, they are passionate about discovering new wines and sharing these discoveries with us. They offered a tasting of four wines; two whites, a red and a tawny porto downstairs in their cozy wine cellar. I ended up purchasing the red, a Gianna Bonarda Vivace 2007. Bonarda is an unusual red grape from Oltrepò Pavese area of Rovescala in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. I should also note that The Wine Bottega happens to be a participating Red White Boston store. I had a chance to chat with the owner Kerri Platt who had nothing but great things to say about her involvement and in the meantime recommended me a great bottle of inexpensive champagne. I wouldn't mind a staircase like this in my own home. Also loving the multi-tiered light fixture below. Last but not least was Eclectic, a newly opened furniture and gift shop featuring refurbished dressers and night stands, decor with a nautical themed touch, funky modern bar stools, as well as wine glasses and wall art. Here I drank my last glass of white wine and turned in my Passport before calling it a night. I picked up a some quality Christmas presents (and maybe one or two things for myself!) along the way. Buon Natale is a fun festive opportunity to discover new and support exisiting favorite local boutiques and galleries while experiencing the hospitality of the neighborhood. As far as Christmastime city traditions go, this one ranks high on my list!