The flakes started falling on Friday afternoon. By late evening, Florence was wrapped in silvery silence, the snow glinting in the lamplight. For Florentines, it could have proved a nuisance—hilly roads were impassable, buses and taxis were thin on the ground, and shopkeepers had meagre pickings on what was meant to be one of the busiest days of Christmas shopping. But the soft white powder gave an already beautiful city a magical quality. So much so that even the usually vociferous Florentines forgot to grumble about the weather, and congregated in Piazzale Michelangelo to admire the views over a lunchtime glass of prosecco.