April 20, 2007 lia

La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life)

What an art of living the Italians have mastered. We had such an enjoyable time in Italy, eating and drinking our way from Milan to Rome. I think I must have spent every afternoon for 2 weeks drinking a glass of wine on a terrasse, eating a gelato for dinner, a two course lunch, and — at times — even enjoying a room with a view.

This picture was taken from our balcony in Sienna, on the eve of St. Catherine of Sienna’s day. Each of Sienna’s 17 boroughs mark the occasion with a procession, and the next day they gather in the square where the annual horse race is held.

When we first arrived in Sienna, another Tuscan hill town which has declined in influence since its height in the Renaissance period, we were a little Tuscan-hill-towned-out. But accidentally spilling onto this procession literally re-ignited our love of Tuscany.

We had seen lots of crowds in Italy already — the 2 hour queue at the Uffizi in Florence, the millions of tourists blocking any genuine experience of Venice on Good Friday, spending more time letting tourists pass rather than hiking the Cinque Terre on Easter Monday, 80 000 people per day at the Vatican museum — but this time the queue of people were NOT the tourists, and we, the tourists, got to be the ones to blissfully watch from outside the mass of people.

La Dolce Vita? Sometimes it’s watching, rather than participating.