Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Butterflies and the Slow Emerge from Winter

Wow, it is already April and I believe I may have left some of you hanging with my last post.  Just like the butterfly  I have emerged from my winter cocoon and am flourishing in the spring sun.  Yay, to Italian spring.  It comes early, which can be alarming to the winter body (think trying to buy a swim suit in March, eek!), but it is warm and delightful.  And blossoms, wow, they are a plenty.  We live in the countryside very near to fruit orchards.  As we drive into the city we drive past rows and rows of beautiful blossoms, and the lilacs are out already, and there are other varieties of blossoms that I have never seen before.  The fields are coming alive and the landscape is slowly changing colour, it is truly magnificent.  The scenery here has inspired thousands of years of poets, painters and writers and it is clear why this is so.  It is inspiring.

So, why have I not written.  Well, I have been busy.  Mi scusi!

We have been busy enjoying the beautiful weather as well as working, homeschooling and taking advantage of what  is on offer here around us.

We traveled to Siena one day and wandered the lovely cobblestone streets, we then sat and had lunch in the Piazza del Campo.  Piazza del Campo is a wonderful scallop shaped piazza with a beautiful fountain.  In the warm sun it is a busy piazza and is great for sitting and watching people and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  The is a tall bell tower, called Torre del Mangia and I climbed to the top with the four children.  The view from the top were really amazing.  Mark did not come with us, as we couldn't bring the dog, so he waited in the piazza and bought some chocolate in the chocolate market that was on that day.

The Gaia fountain in Piazza del Campo, Siena

Piazza del Campo from the Torre del Mangia

Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico

The next week, I had the opportunity to travel to Florence with a university art history class.  I was excited to brush up on my art history as well as having a day to myself.  We looked at a number of churches relating to the work of Brunelleschi and then climbed to the top of the Duomo.  It is a 463 stair climb, that also winds around the inside of the dome and then leads to the outside where you can take in the view of Florence.  I had a fantastic day, learned a lot and reignited my passion for art and history.

Me at the top of the Duomo Firenze, with Santa Croce in the background.

The beautiful Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, Firenze

The next day I was fortunate to return to Florence, this time with the whole family and to meet some Canadian friends.  Another great day in Florence, we had pizza and wine in the piazza outside Santo Spirito and then visited a couple of other churches.  I am on a bit of a church bender, there are so many here to view and they offer a treasure trove of beautiful artworks as well as amazing architecture.  And let me just tell you, two days in a row with Art Historians in Florence is a pretty special way to see the city.  We ended day two with a hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo and then walked up to San Miniato where we were fortunate to be able to hear the monks who live there sing Gregorian chants during late-afternoon vespers.  It was an amazing end to a great day, as the sun set over the Tuscan hills.

San Miniato al Monte, Firenze

I enjoyed a day at the San Giovanni terme with a group of friends and loved the beautiful rolling hills and warm thermal pools.

This past week we went to Cortona.  A beautiful hillside town.  There are winding cobblestone streets that lead up the hill and interspersed you will find little gardens, some that are almost hidden.  We wandered all the way up to the basilica of Santa Margherita, it was a warm sunny day, and the views along the way were breathtaking.  We wondered down a different way along via Margherita, a street lined with mosaic of the Stations of the Cross. 

The religious symbolism and iconography is plentiful, I am very taken by it and continue to snap pictures of the beautiful Madonna's that appear on houses and corners and the edges of fields. 

So it has been a busy and enjoyable month. I am slowly learning more Italian and really enjoying our lovely little village and the people that we are surrounded by.

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