Monday, March 07, 2011

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks

Just back from a windy whirl in Tuscany – not intentionally so, but we chose the wrong time of the year. Florence has almost exactly the same latitude as Nice, but that is where the similarity ends. Nice is sheltered from the northern wind by the Alpes Maritimes, while Florence nurtures it and even gives it a special term of affection, the tramontana (across the mountains). And it is cold: the Florentinos are dressed like Eskimos and we like Lear; every other shop is a gelateria – for which I swear they don’t need refrigeration.
On the plus side, the cities – Florence, Siena and Arezzo - are relatively crowd-free: the “tribe of wretches”, as Lord Byron called them, are a throng but not yet a multitude. But in the end, survival took priority over research, and that for southern Tuscany has been postponed until the temperature improves.


justin said...

Hi Ted, I didn't know that Florence could be so cold. It's on our list of must-see places, which we hope to visit in the next 1-2 years.

ted said...

Hi Justin, Don't let me put you off - it's unmissable in any weather. The trick is to get the right compromise between cold and crowds - like May. Two good descriptions of Tuscan cold: Saul Bellow's Winter in Tuscany and Sinclar Lewis's World So Wide. But do go - I'll try to have my book out in time!