For many years the enchanting land of Italy played host to us during our yearly visits. Such frequency is ample proof how irresistible the charm of “Bel paese” is to us. Italy perfectly fitted our idea of a beautiful panoramic tapestry running its length and width – endowed with all manners of fine features: nature, history, religion, tradition, arts, architecture, cultural heritage, romance, wine, cuisine and enthusiastic people. Giuseppe Verdi rightly praised it when he said: “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
But at these times, the mood is sombre. Italy is in the news for the wrong reasons – just as in the case of numerous countries. Many of us are on self-quarantine observing sanitised lifestyles, keeping social distancing day-to-day as precaution against a deadly virus hell-bent on wreaking havoc across the planet. The airports, railway stations, streets, stadiums, theatres, Malls, gridlocked traffic – all remain empty.
But what we see around us is love in action – the proclamation that the truest thing about us by this isolation is not our brokenness, but our belovedness. Our adherence to self-quarantine is the most remarkable act of human solidarity to conquer this daunting virus and it allows me to remain confident of our people’s ability to rise to any challenge.
During this Eastertide when Italy, like many countries, are struggling to defeat the menace of the virus, I indulge in quiet reflection focused on our past visits abroad, especially to Italy in 2012 when we had the pleasure to witness Scoppio del Carro at Florence during Pasqua. The relevant post is reblogged below. Jo
Easter Sunday in Florence. The sky was overcast with dark clouds, as we walked up Via dei Servi, bound southwest towards Piazza del Duomo. Of all the beautiful names this city is called, especially Firenze as we call it with our Italian friends, there are also those who lovingly use its most beautiful form, Fiorenza, for it is still considered the flower of all Italian graces. As regards this write up, I would rather refer to it in its simplest form: Florence.
Only few meters ahead, beyond the curve of the street, stood the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria della Fiore (Il Duomo) crowned with Filippo Brunelleschi’s soaring octagonal dome resting on a drum. It had rained during the early hours of today when we returned to our rented apartment in Via degli Alfani following the midnight Mass at this cathedral – something we had…
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Thank you so kindly for this piece, indeed peace. My memories of Florence shall now be imagined to Fiorenza. You show so beautifully that at Easter we can truly see that our brokeness is overcome by our belovedness.
Thank you, Marilee.
This beautiful article reminds me also of having been in Florence. The photographs are amazing.
Thanks for sharing these.
Thanks. Have a great weekend.
Thanks for posting this! We need to remember what Italy was like before this horrible virus struck, and hopefully, what it will be like again some day.
Exactly. I understand Scoppio del Carro will not take place on this Easter Sunday due to obvious reasons. Thanks for your comments, Ann.
Hope Italy, and the rest of the World, will soon look back to these deathly days, as a thing of the past.
My best wishes to you as well. 🙂
Thank you. Have a great Easter Sunday. Jo
How did I miss this post!!! Yikes! I was reminded of my brother, Wes and his wife’s adventures on a Easter Sunday in Sienna. They had just arrived in Italy and were staying in a home just outside the city. They needed to go to the grocery store and didn’t understand that all of Sienna would be out that day with parades etc. They were using a GSP to guide them and somehow they found themselves in the centre of Sienna. People surrounded the car, the police came to help and pointed to the GSP and said it was no good. I understand everyone was very kind and helped them to leave the town centre. It was an unforgettable Easter for them. Now, we live in a time of uncertainty, but one thing that gives me comfort is that there are compassionate communities that help each other through this difficult challenge.
I can imagine Wes’ dilemma on that Easter Sunday. It’s also difficult fighting the crowds in the narrow streets of Siena during August when Palio dell’assunta, the historical bareback horse race, takes place circling Plazza del Campo. Then again, for us, a pleasant ride through the rich county of Chainti hills with its flourishing vines and olive trees, would compensate for the hassle. Italians love to come together and celebrate. Also, with numerous tourist spots, Italy is perpetually crowded.
Rebecca, when we stayed at Siena, we went out occasionally during after-hours when the tourists with their iPhone-cameras and selfie-rods vacated the town and the locals took over the pubs and trattorias, or sing and chat in the piazzas. There we had come across friendly and caring attitudes, and the experience of something real, is unforgettable. Such good things are sprouting all around us at these difficult times. Have a great weekend. Jo
I agree wholeheartedly – there are extraordinary people responding with care and compassion in an unprecedented time that demands we live one day at a time. I can only imagine how wonderful it was to meet up with the locals in Sienna. Those are the experiences that give meaning to travel. You reminded me of my favourite travel quote BY G.K Chesterton “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” Whenever we travel, we go in the off season simply to meet the locals. Have a wonderful weekend. Sunshine in Vancouver!
Thank you. How lovely you have glorious sunshine! It’s rainy and cloudy in tropics here – but nice.