Thursday, April 5, 2012


Primavera - springtime - is my favorite season.  In Tuscany, it is especially beautiful!  The countryside becomes a bit greener, flowers start to bloom, and the temperatures become pleasant once again.

Blossoms in Giardino di Boboli

Not only is it incredibly beautiful, it is one of the most perfect times to visit Italy.  It is not yet the "high season" (which runs from June until September), so airfare and accommodations are usually much less expensive.

Olive trees dotting the Tuscan landscape in April

Another benefit is that there are not as many tourists as there are in the summer months, so it's easier to visit some of the more popular museums and tourist sites.  Also, if you can time your visit right, you can take advantage of the Settimana della Cultura...the "week of culture" where all state-run museums, sites, etc offer free admission!  Granted, the lines can be a bit longer,'s FREE.

Standing in a very long line for free admission to Palazzo Pitti, April 2011
This year, the Settimana della Cultura is April 14th through the 22nd.  So unless you can hop a plane soon, you'll probably miss it this year.  Don't worry, it will come around again!

Primavera marks the start of picnic season.  The spring breezes may still be cool, but the sun makes up for it.  Many people pack a light lunch or stop by a market to buy some fresh goodies and then  head to a park and enjoy their lunch.  Oh, and of course after lunch, there is nothing better to do than stretch out on the ground and take a nap in the afternoon sun!

Giardino di Boboli...a lovely place for an afternoon nap!
Some days the temperatures may actually be warm enough to allow a trip to the beach.  Springtime at the beach is much less crowded than during the summer.  You may have an entire stretch of sand to yourselves!  Keep in mind, many beaches will charge you "admission", but with a little research, you can find free stretches of beach to visit where all you need is your blanket and some sunscreen.

Almost deserted beach near Viareggio
Of course, with springtime comes Easter.  Easter in Florence is an amazing experience.  The bells of the churches are completely silent during Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.  It's a strange thing to not hear the bells chiming throughout the day, but then, on Easter Sunday when they finally start peeling again, it's a very moving experience.

The biggest tradition in Florence on Easter is the Scoppio del Carro (explosion of the cart).  An ancient wooden cart (over 500 years old) is paraded through the town from Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo, pulled by huge white oxen decked out in garlands of fresh spring flowers.  They park the cart directly in front of the cathedral doors and the oxen are led away for the remainder of the festivities.  The priest blesses the cart and later, when the "Gloria" is proclaimed during Easter Mass, the priest lights a fuse attached to a mechanical "dove" that is attached to a wire.  The dove then streaks from the alter, through the church, and out the door until it comes in contact with the cart, igniting fireworks and "exploding" the cart.  It's an amazing thing to witness, so if you are in Florence for Easter, you should definitely make an attempt to see it!  (Unfortunately, I have not witnessed this myself, yet.  I have seen video and photos and can't wait to be able to see it for myself!  Last year when I was there, I was sick during Easter and wasn't able to get out to see it.  Maybe next year!)

Piazza del Duomo...where the Scoppio del Carro takes place each  year.
Wishing everyone a Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter) and an enjoyable spring!

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