Our winter school term has just ended and we have made the seven hour drive up to Canberra to meet up with Daughter Number Two and her husband. No, it can’t be compared to Florence, however, since Canberra celebrates its Centenary as our capital, we have come to see its yearly tulip festival, Floriade and some its culture as well.
Last September we were fortunate to take a school trip group to Italy. Travelling through Rome, Siena, Verona, Turin, Milan and Florence, we experienced a memorable time together. One year on, our thoughts turn to that remarkable excursion. I guess it has something to do with the fact that we are coming out of winter and the weather is not dissimilar to the beautiful weather we also experienced in Italy.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Forgive me if I indulge in some iconic Italian reminiscing…
Il Duomo, Firenze
The white marble statue of Michelangelo’s, David in the Uffizi Gallery. (Did you know that an electronic device measures the amount of movement of the marble in the statue by nano millimetres!)
The marvel that is Florence cannot be compared to any other place in the world. It is a man made splendour. Whilst in Canberra we hope to visit some lesser forms of man made art, however, for today we turn to the splendour that is nature in Spring – a celebration of floral splendour and time with family.
The tulips are out in force
We enjoyed a perfect sunny day, basking in the glory of tulips in full bloom. While our thoughts may return to the memories of Italy, we revel in our present time together. How do you keep your memories alive?
Although I have only been blogging since September, I have found it one of the most rewarding outlets for my writing and thoughts on gardening, travel, pets and the every day happenings of life. So it was with much amazement that our blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award. As a newcomer, I have been buoyed by the feedback and kind words of my regular followers and visitors. My nominator was Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, whose blog I follow from the other side of the world, and one which never ceases to inspire with its heartfelt, entertaining and socially aware commentary – danke schoen to you Kevin!
After a long day at work waiting for the weather to warm up, we arrived home and unexpectedly found ourselves in the garden. There were many jobs to do. Our Italian adventure had superseded all else and our garden was in need of much attention. Recent high winds had further added to our workload with our gum trees shedding bark, twigs and branches.
Reassuringly though, the clematis had begun its short, yearly ramble over the tin shed. Easing our efforts were the flowering trees and shrubs with the magnolia taking centre stage in the afternoon light.
After two hours, a quick interlude and glass of wine with the neighbours, were further rewarded with an ochre sunset. Daylight saving does have its rewards! This time two weeks ago we were roaming the streets of Verona – a world diametrically opposite to the one we inhabit. Where would I rather be? I’ll let you know!
One of the most exciting things about coming back home is seeing the changes in the garden. We were both very jet lagged after twenty-nine hours in the air, however, our car had hardly come to a standstill when our older cat Sarge, came bounding from behind the camellias with his garrulous greeting! It was after copious pats that I noticed the tulips and the daffodils in full bloom and of course, the grass.
Yes, grass. As much as we loved our Italian escapade: the Medieval towns, the castles, the famous sculptures, the abundant artworks, the historic churches, after a time we found we missed greenery and indeed nature – maybe it was all that stone work. We did enjoy the Tuscan countryside via bus and some yellow roses protruding amongst the monuments, some nice potted containers, a balcony grapevine, many old persimmon trees and vine covered buildings, but we probably needed more back yards.
Now we have come back to our mountain home among the gums trees and the soon to be flowering rhododendrons. Apologies for the cliches! Perhaps the last words should go to Walt Whitman, “I believe a leaf of grass is the journey-work of stars”. I might have to look for that old John Denver CD. Can you guess which image is of our garden?
It really is impossible to see Milano in two days! However, we did a vast amount of walking from our hotel into the centre of the shopping district. As I continue to reflect on our journey throughout Italy, I have discovered many things about traveling with others and their wonderful and varied personalities. (This needs further exploration in another post.) Journeying as a group has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of course are that one is in familiar and safe company and have shared similar experiences in special places. One disadvantage can be that these special places can suddenly conjure up feelings that are emotionally overwhelming and quite embarrassing. The second part of our Milan visit did exactly that for me as we entered the grand Teatro alla Scala or La Scala.
I am the daughter of northern Italian and Czech parents with some Hungarian and Swedish influences. Most of my life I grew up listening to stories about life under the Austro-Hungarian Empire – stories of art, music and history. As a child and teenager this was probably the last thing I really wanted to listen to. However, during this visit to the northern regions of Italy, I finally understood the beauty, the art, the architecture and the history. This in turn created an overwhelming link to my ancestors. As we walked in to the grand theatre, the home of opera and ballet, and entered the viewing platform where a rehearsal was underway, I became so overwhelmed by the artistic beauty that I began to cry! Quite embarrassing when one is with twenty other people! Colin was just as bemused by my antics, quickly shuffling me out of sight as I incoherently sniffled into his sleeve, “now I know what my family was on about this place”.
Dating from 1778, La Scala has been home to all the famous operatic and ballet artists. In fact, the museum, also located on the site, reveals the past performers in all their glory: Rossini, Bellini, Toscanini, Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev and of course our own Dame Joan Sutherland, to name but a few.
In my last post I depicted Milan as a place of self discovery through fashion – a somewhat artificial enterprise. However, it has now become a place where I have found a connection with myself and my ancestral past. Indeed, I will never forget Milano for this gift of understanding. Have you had a similar profound experience of place?