Saturday, 31 March 2012

Too slow.

Spring is really here. I wanted to take a picture of the blossom in the street lights at night, but I was too slow. I could see it perfectly. It was going to be an essential Spring shot with a glorious twist. Subtle indigoes, yellows and delicate pinks.  It was going to knock your socks off.

Only I was far too slow and the trees are pretty much fully coated in lemon green. Pretty. Pity. Must be quicker off the mark next Spring.

This is all I have to show for my efforts this week.

What is this? An Ikea advert? I'm in love with this photo and I have no idea why. Maybe it's because I took it whilst supposedly having a nap.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Scrambling in the Rain

Valmadrera - stunning views over the village and over to Lecco as you climb and inch your way along the sheer rocky slopes. Drive North out of Milan and this is the first mountain of the Alps.

Normally I'd have taken so so many photos, but today the sky had an ugly white-out and then it started to rain so my precious camera was wrapped up in a plastic bag. Every time it stopped, I took it out only for it to start again. At the end of the day this is all I was left with.

In any case, a rainy walk with views as good as these is better than a sunny Sunday in the Milanese suburbs.

Otherwise I would never have over heard this conversation of a man and friends standing out on the grass of his garden.

Woman: What are you looking for?

Man: Nettles.

"Oooh yummy!" they all chorus.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Rhythms

The rhythms of Italian life are definitely one of the things that attracted me when I thought about moving to Italy. The lazy Sundays, the evening passeggiata etc... I had experienced it on while on holiday in Liguria. 

Unfortunately I somehow managed to end up in Milan where the working hours are probably more like London than Italy. Actually that's not true, people in Italy work much longer hours than they do in the UK in my experience, but in general they know how to do relaxation properly.

I say in general, because I get the impression that in Milan most people are working ten or twelve hour days. It feels frenetic sometimes but there are rhythms here nonetheless. 

In August the city is dead, in October things are starting to take off again. Things are really picking up again by December but then there's Christmas and everybody shuts down for a few weeks. January is quiet and then from February onwards things get faster and faster as people aim to complete their goals by July when everyone goes on holiday. And the weird thing is that it's not just schools either. It seems to be everywhere, law firms, businesses...

The last couple of weeks have been particularly draining, and that's why it was very necessary to head down to Liguria where they have a better idea of 'Italian' life and enjoy the sunset.

The next day we went for a walk along the cinque terre. Monterosso is on it's way to recovery but Vernazza is still devastated. Or at least it appeared so from the train. Our BnB hostess asked us not to go (we weren't intending to anyway) in order to leave the residents some peace on their first weekend back in the town.

Manarola, Riomaggiore and Corniglia however, were relatively unaffected by the landslides and flooding so we took the high paths along the vineyards way above the sea from Manarola to Corniglia.

Manarola was beautiful. As always. But we didn't spend long here as we were impatient to get going. So I took a few photos, sent my mum the obligatory gloating text (family tradition - don't ask) stocked up on focaccia and we were off.

Obligatory Ligurian cat photo. I like to think it has some artistic merit too. Nope. Pretty sure it wasn't dead.

The views were amazing. Unfortunately none of the photos I took do them justice but I am quite envious of the old lady who enjoys this Olive and Mimosa dining room.

Finally we arrived. Or so we thought we had. Going down was far harder than going up but we did stumble in after all - only to find our favourite bar was shut. Never mind the ice-cream was appreciated anyway!

This break was one of the best things I have done this year, if not THE best thing. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Sunday. I thoroughly recommend the Cinque Terre in Spring.

ps. Oh and if you go - spend lots of money. That's probably what they need right now.  

Reasons to Visit Me II

I like to think I treat my guests well when they come to visit. They've travelled all this way to see me, why shouldn't they see the best that Lombardy has to offer?

And what's better than a view like this on a February morning?

Come and visit again soon so I have another excuse to go to Lake Como!