EXPERIENCE an Italian Christmas at The National Trust's Waddesdon Manor this year with grape vines, terracotta pots and fragrant herbs in abundance.

The theme continues the tour of the European cities where the five Rothschild sons first went to to make their fortunes.

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild built the manor between 1874 and 1889. The Rothschild banking dynasty was immensely powerful in 19th century Europe and the five sons of Mayer Amschel set up a banking network in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Naples and Vienna.

Last year's theme was French and this year Italy is the focus for Christmas.

There are Cypress trees, fresh herbs, Venetian masks and gondolas. The Kitchen Corridor has been transformed with Roman pillars and grape vines and wine bottles.

And there is plenty of entertainment for the children with Pinocchio and Befana the good witch making appearances.

Not only this but there is a reindeer trail leading kids to an area for writing letters to Father Christmas.

The Manor Restaurant will be serving traditional Christmas fare and some Rothschild specialities including terrine of ducks, pheasant and port with fig chutney.

There are also special events. Tonight from 6-8pm there is a magical evening of Christmas Carols and Circus Fun. Tickets are £7 for adults and £3.50 for children from 01296653226.

And until Sunday there is a Christmas Food Market at Waddesdon Plant Centre from 10.30am-4.30pm each day. There will be cakes, biscuits, sweets, chutneys and other food and drink for sale. And on Saturday and Sunday there will be carol singing in the grounds from community groups and choirs.

On December 17 there will be carols sung by the Great Missenden Choral Society at Waddesdon Plant Centre.

The Bachelors' and East Wings of the House are open until January 2 except for December 24-26. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays besides bank Holidays and December 19, 20 and 27. At the weekends it is open from 11am-4pm and 12pm-4pm from Wednesday to Friday.

Free entry for National Trust members. For adults during the week it is £15 for the East Wing and Gardens and for children is £11. At the weekend it is £17 for adults and £13 for children. Under 5s go free. To go to the plant centre normal garden admissions apply which are £8 for adults at the weekend and £4.50 for children.