I yearn to return to the St. Francis Inn, a graceful and stately home built in 1791, that continues to embrace the holiday season as the oldest bed & breakfast in St. Augustine, Florida.
For more than two centuries, the inn has been a vibrant, historic place filled with mystery.
When I visit it, and ‘Old City’ during Nights of Lights, my watch seems to be missing minute hands. It’s an enchanted time to reconnect and reflect.
Cherishing tradition is what the St. Francis Inn offers discerning guests who enjoy tranquility, privacy and exclusivity. For many years, owners Joe and Margaret Finnegan and their staff have enjoyed celebrating their own interpretation of the ’12 Days of Christmas’ with themed, contemporary culinary specialties.
The beloved song, first published in England in 1780, was first performed as a chant or rhyme. In keeping with that era, St. Francis Inn’s cook, Janice Leary, pays homage to the English Christmas carol with cleverly designed desserts that represent the ancient series of increasingly grand gifts presented on each of the 12 days of Christmas.
The Finnegan’s have become known for those celebratory, nightly chef-made desserts. Guests look forward to reconvening back at the inn each night to enjoy the surprising treats awaiting them after dinner.
From December 10 until December 21, the evening festivities continue in the romantic illuminated courtyard, inside the inn’s inviting dining room and throughout cozy corners that guests discover for themselves. Here you can disappear into a wondrous place in American history. Alluring firepits and s’mores are always popular, but this special holiday season is deliciously enticing with mulled cider, eggnog, gourmet coffees and locally sourced wine & spirits.
“I really enjoy the details that make a difference to our guests,” Leary said. “We have a great time with each year’s Christmas-themed nightly desserts.”
One could easily get lost in St. Augustine throughout the intriguing maze of the historic downtown. Lost in hidden gardens. Lost in its colorful history, tempting art galleries and boutique shops tucked down narrow streets.
But as you follow old brick-paved St. George Street strolling back to the St. Francis Inn, you feel the blending of contemporary excitement with a place in history. A warm welcome awaits where you left off, and you are not lost at all.
ENGLISH CHRISTMAS CAROL ST. FRANCIS INN DESSERT
12. Drummers Drumming Red Velvet Drum Cake
11. Pipers Piping Pecan Pie
10. Lords-a-Leaping Lord Baltimore Cake
9. Ladies Dancing Strawberry Lady Finger Cake
8. Maids-a-Milking Tres Leche Cake
7. Swans-a-Swimming **Swan Cream Puffs
6. Geese-a-Laying Goose Nest Cupcakes
5. Gold Rings Gold Rings Upside Down Cake
4. Calling Birds Calling Birds Christmas Cake
3. French Hens Raspberry Cream Milles Feuilles
2. Turtle Doves **Turtle Dove Cheesecake
1. Partridge in a Pear Tree **Poached Pears
Photos provided by the St. Francis Inn