Spring has sprung in Vicenza and all of a sudden trees in full bloom have sprang all over this pretty Northern Italian city. It happened quite overnight. Or so it seems. After a couple of weeks of mostly rainy grey weather, we had a whole weekend of sun and this is when I started looking around, re-discovering Vicenza with fresh eyes.
I am sure that the trees must have started blooming at least a week or two ago, as I remember seeing some vibrant pink blossoms on the branches protruding through our neighbour’s fence. Yet, in the midst of two different episodes of flu and feeling emotionally a bit down with all the rain that we endured, I didn’t pay them much attention at all.
And then I wake up one morning and the sky is blue, the birds are chirping outside and everywhere I look trees and bushes are covered in yellow, pink and white blooms. All so intense, vibrant and pure at the same time.
Large magnolia trees suddenly materialise in the front yards of Vicenza’s houses, their huge blooms sticking out of the brown branches like purple candles.
Bushes covered with yellow blossoms peep behind tall wrought-iron fences. Cats prowl the neighbourhood yards. The palm trees sway in the breeze. Shop window displays celebrate Easter and spring.
The two rivers crisscrossing Vicenza – Bacchiglione and Retrone – run fast under their many bridges the railings of which are adorned with pretty yellow, orange and white pansies in full bloom.
Potted plants start appearing on the balconies around town, creating the basis for the veritable hanging gardens which only in a month or two would be adorning the whole of Vicenza.
The park Querini – the one where rabbits, ducks, roosters and hens run free – is slowly getting back to its very best. The little temple atop the island in its large pond stands out against the blue sky.
The willows wave their tender green shoots above the heads of the passers-by. And large roosters thrust forward their expansive breast whilst looking you up and down with an inquisitive beady eye: ‘Did you bring me some crumbs?!’.
Spring is, no doubt, my most favourite season. The season of re-birth, of renewal. The time when my energy starts flowing again. Winter is largely a torment for me. The lack of sun, the cold, the rain make it hard for me to face the world. Italian winters are not so bad. They are shorter, warmer, in general with much more sun. Bulgarian and English winters on the other hand used to be really difficult for me. The super short days, the grey light seeping through the windows, the overcast skies, the constant chill in the air which would cut me deep to the bone.
Give me spring anytime!
In Italy spring is the season when you start noticing and appreciating the local light. Its power to draw both nature and city landscapes in an inimitable way. No wonder Italian painters were such masters of their art and created so many inspiring works. They had the prime tool in their palettes – the perfect light. All they had to do was to recreate it on their canvases.
The blue skies from which the light flows down on Earth, the green surrounding countryside, the special way in which the light emphasises the faded colours of the buildings on the Italian streets bringing them to life.
Even the notoriously bad graffiti staining the centuries-old Italian towns and cities, look better in this light. Such is its quality.
Even now, a year and a half after we moved to live here, all I have to do is to lift my head and stop for a second or two to feel like I am living in an Italian painting bathed in a beautiful light.
Light, blooms, blue skies, a gentle breeze…
Now in all honesty, one surprising benefit of spring being here is that we all can start to leave our clothes to dry outside again. Drying machines are not really popular in Italy. Due to lack of space, cost of electricity and/or environmental awareness most Italians would not use them at all.
So, during the rainy months of January and February our spare room became my laundry room – the place where our huge drier would spend the days and nights stationed in front of the radiator, waiting for yet another load of freshly laundered clothes to dry.
It is now such a relief to be able to simply push the drier on the balcony and leave it there for the day. The clothes dry super fast with all the sun and wind and our spare room once again looks tidy and unburdened of domestic chores.
No, obviously this is not my washing. It is just a perfectly photogenic wash line I spotted the other day whilst walking round Vicenza and enjoying spring.
You know how Italy is famous with its wash lines, which often hang laden with artistically arranged undergarments and clothes not just over the balconies but over the streets, too. I have to tell you, nothing beats putting on freshly laundered clothes which have dried in the sun. It is like your skin feels the warmth of the sun, the caress of the wind. A drying machine or a bathroom towel radiator simply can’t compete.
So, yes, it is spring now in Vicenza and I am looking forward to feeling all re-energised and dynamic again. I have a list of places I want us to visit in the sunny weekends to come. I have planned a short trip to Bulgaria to see my family, too. But above all, I am looking forward to enjoying the light, the blue skies and the fresh breathable air as much as I can.
Through the kitchen window I spy our neighbour – an old gentleman who, as soon as the weather turns good, likes to lounge on his balcony letting the sunlight wash all over him. It is such a simple pleasure, yet so revitalising with the large doses of vitamin D the sun so generously provides.
Here it is – to the sun, to the spring and to the new shoots of life all around us! I hope you feel the same way.