Yesterday, Venice came alive with people and activity. Apparently, December 20th is the official day when Christmas shopping begins. You could just see, feel and hear all the extra people out and about. The Americans are out, the Japanese are out, the Chinese are out, the Italians are out, the Germans are out...its just like summer in Venice with the crowds, except that its only 38 degrees outside!
They also started the markets in many of the major squares around the city. There are some Christmas items here but it reminds me mostly of flea market stuff. They even have the "As Seen on TV" items and the guy who is hawking you to come take a look! There didnt seem to be anything I couldnt live without although there are few things that I have contemplated just because.
One thing I did see finally, which I have only heard about to date is the police checking your bags. Its the law here to have a receipt given to you and also that you take it. The police can stop you at any time and ask to see the receipts for what you have purchased in your bags. Like I said, I never saw this happen until today when some confused English woman was pointing at her receipt, then pointing at the store down the way and then back at her receipt. She was saying in English that she just came from the store and this is what she bought. The policeman didnt really care and I think he just stopped her because he was bored and wanted a distraction for a few minutes. And because he could!