It’s amazing how many years I’ve lived and yet know so little about myself. It seems I’m always finding another opportunity to have one of those “hmmmm….I never realized (chose one:) how much l liked that/how much I hated that/how important that was to me/how much I’ll miss that”, etc. moments. This Spring, the “that” was weather, and my surprise was how obsessed and unpleasantly whiney I became about it.
I remember when I was a child, I used to stay for 2 weeks every summer with my best friend’s family in a small cottage by a river. One year it rained every single day for those 2 weeks. Let’s just say we were not a happy group, and it’s a tribute to the patience of everyone involved that we remained friends. When you’re 10 years old, 2 weeks of rain feels like 6 months. This year was like I was reliving that childhood experience, except that this time it felt like 6 months because it actually was 6 months.
In the Philadelphia area, this past winter was gray and rainy. But I could always look forward to heading to sunny Italy in March……which I did…..only to find La Bella Italia had also suffered a wet, gray winter and the bad weather gods were not ready to leave.
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia they had what all of my very annoyingly smug friends described as “the most beautiful Spring in years”.
In Italy, we all hoped April would bring a ray or 2 of sunshine….perhaps some warmth….. but no such luck. May arrived. We were meeting our friends Lynda and Doug, who were coming over to join us for a 2-week vacation in Germany and Italy. Surely by mid-May we’d have reasonable weather. I’ve been in Italy in May for years and it’s always been wonderful. When people ask when they should come, May is the answer. We assured our visiting friends that May would be just perfect. Unfortunately, this particular May turned out to be the worst anyone — including 100-year old Nonno Gino — could ever remember, and the Spring as a whole was the wettest in 150 years.
We met Lynda and Doug in Munich for 3 chilly, soggy days, followed by 2 intermittent-rain with winterish temperatures ones in Stuttgart. Baden-Baden’s 2 days were perhaps the nicest and we could even have a lunch outside 1 afternoon. As we continued down the Italian peninsula to Orvieto, however, our photos record a series of days where we’re dressed in long sleeves and sweaters.
The high point (or should I say low point?) of this was the day that Mother (or more likely Father) Nature was at her/his most wrathful. We were going to take our friends on a little tour around nearby Lake Bolsena, stopping on the way to see Civita di Bagnoregio – an interesting remnant of a town that, because of earthquakes and erosion, can now only be accessed via a foot bridge. The good news is that the worst of the torrential rains came while we were eating in the restaurant at the base of Civita, and that it cleared just long enough for us to hike up, walk around the little town and hike back down before the next wave of storms arrived. On the drive around the lake, we had several instances of blinding rain, high wind and nickel-sized hail covering the roads, interspersed with moments of dazzlingly bright sun.
And speaking of the always-angry Old Testament God – the photo below was taken from the car by Doug, as we were approaching the town of Bolsena. I think this is one of those times when the photo says it all.
They ended their trip by driving back to Munich, where they got to spend another cold, wet 1-1/2 days before boarding their plane. As proof of their flexibility, they did very little complaining during all of this….probably because I was doing enough for the 4 of us.
Meanwhile, Orvieto continued its string of bad weather. Restaurants we always frequent because of their pleasant outdoor seating remained unvisited. Alan’s beloved Vespa was unused for the most part. We didn’t even bother to pump up our bikes’ tires.
FINALLY – good weather arrive in late June…..right before we returned to the US. Mid-80’s, low humidity, nights in the 60’s, bright blue skies, lots of sun…..THIS is what I expect of Italy in the Spring. A week before we left, we were having a beautiful outdoor dinner at a friend’s and I was wearing my signature turtleneck plus 2 wool sweaters. I was still in my flannel pj’s on my last night. Since we’ve been gone, of course every day has been more gorgeous than the one before.
Because I have complained during this entire blog, it might surprise you to know that I continue to believe May is the best month to be in Italy. I will consider this past one an anomaly; I’m going with the averages that say this was only one out of a lot of other Mays that were picture-perfect. That being said — be warned: 1 bad Spring I can put down as a bump in the road; with 2???? My whining will be so high-pitched that dogs will flee and glass will shatter. So let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2014.