Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian
The morning air is scented and laden with pollen. I rub my eyes and start to sneeze as my allergies greet the arrival of spring. We are in the town piazza with friends, a happy group of old and young.
We are waiting for the usual late arrivals. The path leads along a road traveled even by the early Etruscans. Our goal is not far away; a wide and sunny meadow near a small church in Romanic style, dominated by its bell tower and the sound of church bells from the surrounding valley.
The day is crisp. The morning dew bathes the ﬁelds and shadows. This is the ﬁrst outing of the season. The “pratone” (that is what we call our destination) can only be reached by bicycle. Each of us has his own, some with an attached basket, some with gears…the little ones are on wheels.
We adults are slowed down by the children who will entertain us once we arrive at our destination.
We carry food, a soccer ball, 2 rounds of pecorino cheese with fava beans, and rolled up blankets.
During the last difﬁcult segment which rises towards the church, the road is so narrow that it seems like a scribble on the dusty white road. Iris peek out from dry woods.
They are in full bloom and seem to genuﬂect under their purple weight: “Caterina dei Medici’s ﬂower” and “the symbol of Florence”, the children remind us.
We arrive at the large meadow, a colorful spectacle. It was a difﬁcult but worhwhile climb. The hills are cloaked with color: the not quite mature green grass, the yellow ﬂowers of the rapeseed, red poppies and clover.
The spring light illiminates but isn’t blinding. The air is perfumed and I continue to sneeze. We will reach that paradise in a few moments. The children, with cheeks red from pedaling, noisily run after the ball which has already rolled to the bottom of the valley. T
he little girls are calm and sitting in a circle, making designs with colored chalk.
The large churchbells deafen us with one ring: it is 1 PM. Time to eat! I am chosen to distribute the wine. I carefully open the ﬁrst bottle and pour. We get water from the fountain next to the church.
We slice the pecorino and a large round of unsalted bread, the base for our tasty sandwiches, ﬁlled with cold cuts and a frittata.
The “vignarola” is delicious, prepared with spring vegetables, topped off with fennel and mint. Lunch becomes “merenda”, merenda becomes dinner. soccer game wakes us up as we separate into teams, men against women. Some have preferred to spread out the blankets, a rolled up sweater as a pillow, close their eyes and take a nap.
It is hot but not humid and the sun makes us happy. It was a long winter spent indoors. The day passes quickly among jokes, food, drinks and games.
When it is almost dark we can see the ﬁrst lightning bugs and hear the quiet evening crickets. It is time to get our bicycles and return home.
Francesco Sorelli – My Tales of Tuscany