As the valley wakes up from its winter slumber, its pe ople begin to shake off their lethargy, too. As though a long hibernation is over, more bicyclists whiz along the highways. The terrace of Bar Sport and other sidewalk bars and caffe’ are more crowded. And villages and towns hold festivals to mark the arrival of spring.
Flowers, flowers, everywhere! Every market, every greenhouse, and even on the side of the highways, roses, geraniums, azaleas, and petunias are for sale. Their bright colors in the golden sunlight are a perfect counterpoint to the gray days of late winter.
Everyone is ready to get out of the house, too. The festivals we have visited so far were more bustling than past years. It could be because Easter came early this year, and so everyone is more mentally prepared to be outside. I think that it is because this has been a picture-perfect spring. All of March and most of April were without significant rain. Days of endless sunshine and warm temperatures have brought the valley to full flower earlier than years past.
This year, we went to Borgo a Mozzano in April for the bi-annual Azalea festival. The single long road that winds through the town is blocked off. Banks of flowers and imaginative arrangements appear as if by magic, softening the cold stone corridor with the bright colors of azaleas and camellias. We avoided the traffic by taking the train, only 2 train stops from our station. We arrived in time for lunch, sitting outdoors at the local pub.
Afterwards, we strolled for a couple of hours, including afternoon coffee in our itinerary. I boarded with train for home with only a small azalea, resisting the temptation (mostly) this year to fill the courtyard with these early bloomers.
May 1 is International Labor Day in Italy as in most countries (except in the United States). This year was the 56th year that Fornaci di Barga was the center of activity for ‘Primo Maggio’. Perhaps because it fell on a Sunday or again because of the gorgeous warm sunshine, but it seemed that everyone from Ghivizzano was there.
And there were more people than I have seen before. People from throughout the valley were in attendance. I spotted a several foreign tags and a few steering wheels on the right side of the car. Once again, the Lucca-Aulla train line allowed us to avoid the headaches of parking and traffic.
Too soon, the sun will become hot during midday and everyone will retreat indoors for the afternoon siesta. In the meantime, we are celebrating this wonderful spring of 2016 out of doors.