Monday, 23 April 2012

Spring has sprung a leak

Some few weeks back winter gave way to an eager Spring in full swing, with an army of birds gathered from the four corners to herald the arrival, bright green foliage on barren trees and temps soaring to the mid 20's. And so all was well and very cheery... until spring sprung a leak and it's not stopped (hardly) raining for the past 2 weeks (or so)... see photographic evidence:

The moody cloud-filled skies are spectacular, ranging from the cute and fluffy one minute to the dark and furious moments later and The Umbrella (marvelous invention) and/or The Raincoat (for cyclists) have become essential accessories. (The sunsets have been splendid too I must add). I read in the paper recently that there is (or at least was) a drought in Tuscany, with strict restrictions on water usage in the garden (and/or on the terrace) which is a good move since we've barely had a drop from the sky since I arrived in January last year. But with the swollen Arno River and the ongoing forecast for rain I do suspect the drought is at an end. I don't mind the rain so much, it's the return of "il freddo" (the cold) that I mind a lot and the joy of putting away the woolies has been superceded by the pain of dragging them back out again.

Anyhoo, onwards from the weather report... We've just come to the end of a 2 week break from school and as you will observe from the above weather chart, there was a single sunny day in that time (April 17, I remember it well), which was the day Inga and I were able to venture beyond Florence, with any sort of hope of staying dry, and head west young man. West being where the nearest coast be found. Livorno to be specific, which is a port city where goods come and go as well as cruise-ship loads of tourists. All of whom head for Florence where there is a whole lot more to see and do than in Livorno, except if you're feeling sea-air deprived in which case you might consider the trip in reverse, as we did. It's not a historic or in any way beautiful township but with the sun shining the sea-side Terrazza (terrace) is a sight for sore eyes and refreshing to the soul:

We also visited the Civic Museum which I threw into the itinerary for something to do and unfortunately didn't allow enough time (before it closed for a 3 hour siesta) to fully appreciate the wonderful Italian impressionist paintings we found there. After lunch by the Mediterranean Sea, with the salty breeze in our hairs we headed up the hill to Montenero on the funicular railway to admire Livorno from above. As there's not much to Montenero besides it's stunning view of the sea we took a short stroll and then made our way back to the beloved centre of high culture, an hour and a half train ride from the centre of Livorno. Speaking of Florence being beloved, the rising number of tourists has not been in the slightest deterred by the rain (what are umbrellas for?!). It's becoming daily more difficult to ride a bike through the historic centre, even with the earnest trill of a bell to declare the desire for clear passage. From tomorrow my trip to and from school, which in winter takes in the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Repubblica and the Duomo, will necessarily be in a wide arc around these congested venues.

As for the rest of the break, I managed to do a still life in grisaille (one colour and white) but not a great deal otherwise (owing to the weather), other than some watery walks in the Boboli Gardens, an easter luncheon with Inga and Susan, a movie in English with Susan (Marigold Hotel), lunch and a visit to the Palazzo Pitti with the Reads (an Australian family here for 3 months on long service leave), and the carrying out of possibly the most thorough spring clean an apartment was ever subjected to. It's amazing what can be done if one only has the time.

I was also inspired once again by this hour long documentary by Roger Scruton called Why Beauty Matters...

To see the latest pics please click here. I'll sign off with this quote from the Marigold Hotel: "Everything will be alright in the end, and if it isn't, it's not yet the end".

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