Finally! It snowed in Vicenza.
After weeks of scrolling through social media statuses from friends and acquaintances both showing off and complaining about the record levels of snow besieging their countries, finally I could add my own photos to the flurry of snowy scenes. For it snowed in Vicenza and last Friday we woke up to a thin-ish yet completely uninterrupted blanket of snow covering the city from end to end.
The first snow of the season always fills me with joy. All is white, pure and clean. It is just like the feeling you get before a new start. It is like a different prism to look at the world. Especially here in Italy, where seeing snow still feels quite the thing. Everywhere I looked, I saw snow on surfaces which we are otherwise used to admire in glowing with sun perfect shots. Like the palm tree in our yard. Not to mention the perfectly-proportioned, often depicting naked bodies statues gracing streets and rooftops.
Vicenza’s medieval brick walls now had snow hanging off them for dear life.
All over town perennially green creepers were now lending their verdant leaves as the perfect backdrop to the whiteness of the snow.
Not to mention the many coffee shops and cafes which by the force of sheer habit had positioned their tables and chairs straight on the pavement next to the piles of snow and ice. Italian coffee culture, after all, is not going to stop functioning just because it is a bit cold. Thick blankets were provided for the brave patrons to throw over their knees and tulips graced the tables to give them a bit of a spring feel.
Yet, don’t get me wrong though. Snow is not an anomaly in Italy. It does snow here in winter, you know. Don’t fly over from shivery England or other such allegedly cold place hoping to enjoy a fail-proof week in the hot, hot sun. Especially in Northern Italy. And this year, as it happened, Southern Italy, too. For Sicily has been covered in the white stuff for days now (Did you see those photos on Facebook?! Amazing, no?!). Or, as a nice young man explained it so well on the BBC website, a snow front has been swirling over Europe managing to hit all the spots along the Mediterranean coast which usually only see sun. The front has been swirling and curving, and, now, finally, it reached Vicenza, too.
So, I can relax now. This winter’s mission has been accomplished – we’ve seen snow. And we didn’t even have to go to the mountains for this. Hurray!
Because, you see, as I told you and for a fact it does snow in Italy. Especially in the Alps where you can go to get your fill of snow sports and then some. But down here in the vast plains of Veneto?! Not so much.
Our first winter in Vicenza, it did snow and the snow stayed put for about a week. It was cold, freezingly so. But then, poof, and it was gone. Last winter (our second here) it did snow for a couple of hours. Big fluffy snowflakes fell down from the skies only to immediately melt on arrival. So, we had to venture up to the Asiago plateau to see some good snow and to have a day of sledding fun. Still we could see the snow machines parked by the slopes and we knew that they had been working overtime.
And, I remember a visit to Venice back in February 2013, when, yes, the magic happened and it snowed. A deep blanket coated St. Mark’s Square and the blue covers of the gondolas. The romantic stone bridges turned dangerously slippery and the wet air became bone-chillingly cold. It looked absolutely beautiful though, minus all the tourists who were wandering around half-lost using plastic bags to cover their cameras and their heads.
So, yes, snowing this year in Vicenza (and I’ve seen the photos, it snowed in Venice again, too) was quite the event. I couldn’t miss it by staying in and thanking God for central heating. I had to brave the element.
A mid-morning walk along the streets showed that the council and the citizens of Vicenza seemed to already have things under absolute control. The snow was ploughed off the roads. Cars and bikes were moving easily from point A to point B and back. And people, armed with big shovels, were busy clearing the drives and the pavements in front of their homes. Groups of children and adults, all in the high spirits which the first snow always seems to bring, were engaging in impromptu snowball fights.
Considering how seldom it snows in Vicenza, it was actually quite admirable how well equipped the people and the city seemed to be. For all the time I spent living in England, I seem to have lots of memories of transport halting to a stop as soon as a snowflake was spotted somewhere over Northern London heading down to Oxford Street. As for Bulgaria, for years as soon as the first snow fell, journalists would interview the heads of the local bodies in charge of ensuring that cities and villages were able to function in the snow and they all would utter the now cult phrase: ‘This winter the snow took us by surprise!’ when trying to explain why portions of the country were suffering power cuts and impassable roads.
So, yes, considering it all, Vicenza did very well.
One small complaint here though. To deal with the cold weather, most old ladies in town seemed to be wearing long fur coats. The type that look like they have been designed for the Syberian frost and for the creation of which thousands of animals have fallen prey in the cruelest, most abominable way. Perhaps, all these coats that I saw were vintage ones, from the times when we didn’t know any better. Still, it is the one thing about winter that really fills me with indignation and makes me take a stand.
Anyway, seeing how well the city had been cleared up by mid-morning, I headed to the one place where I was hoping to see expanses of sparking virgin snow.
This whimsical park didn’t disappoint. It was beautiful, peaceful and all white. Only a handful of people were there enjoying the snow.
The large circular pond was half frozen and the resident ducks walked on the ice in search of something to eat.
The park’s rabbit population was out in force, too, looking a bit wet and a bit forlorn.
The bunnies would come all the way to me trying to see if I had anything to give them. Usually they don’t approach people at all, but the snow and the cold, it seems, had left them feeling a bit sad.
I fed them the carrot pieces I had brought with me from home.
So, yes, snow in Vicenza! Wet bunnies and fur coats aside, it was absolutely great. Now, if it could only go away rather nice and quick, as I am already looking forward to spring.
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