verb ǀar-ẓi-go-go-là-reǀ  1. to let your mind wander, to muse, to daydream

What a beautiful morning Palm Sunday was this yearfull of sunshine and bells, chatter and laughter. After Mass people gathered in the piazzas outside the churches, holding their olive branches (the local symbol of this holiday honoring Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, as they are easier to procure than palm fronds). For the rest of Palm Sunday, people could be seen carrying their branches around the city.

April 2011

Above  The Arno’s color often assumes an olive-y color; the top image was taken by Ponte alle Grazie, where fishermen sometimes try their luck, and the bottom photo features the riverside elevation of the Uffizi reflected in the river.

I love Sunday mornings in Florence; the tone is more gentle than the other days, and church bells fill the whole morning with music. Hearing the bells ringing throughout the day has always been one of the many pleasures of living here. As Florence wakes up, the bells ring on the quarter hour, growing more jubilant as they call church‧goers to the first Masses of the day. Santo Spirito’s quarter‧to‧nine’s have been my favorites ever since I can remember (although they never did regain their original exuberance after a recent restoration). In contrast, the noon bells always strike me as more somber ... a resonant reminder that the day is ‘half over’.
    When Masses resume throughout the city in the late afternoon, the sound of joyful bells mingles with the sun that fills our apartment during those hours. The bells mark the quarter hours flying past, as I scramble to finish whatever I’m working on before figuring out what’s for dinner. Much to our amusement, the bells don’t necessarily coincide with the quarter hour, so we’ve taken to joking about the 4:23s or the 6:08s . At night the bells are fewer, and often drowned out by traffic, but the Duomo’s twelve tolls at midnight stretch out long enough that I usually catch some of them. The single dong at 1 am is easy to miss, but 2 am leaves no doubt of the passing hours if sleep has not yet come..

Easter Egg Salad        

- 2 hard boiled eggs per person (see note about cooking eggs at right)
- various greens, chopped finely (rucola/watercress/green onions/celery, etc.)
- fresh herbs, chopped finely (parsley/basil/thyme)
generous grindings of salt, pepper, to taste (and a sprinkle of paprika if you like)
mayonnaise, to your liking (I add a little spicy mustard too)
- sliced bread (fresh from the bakery is ideal)

Chop the cooled eggs finely, and mash in the yolks a bit.
Add the chopped greens and herbs & mix them through, seasoning as you go.
Stir in the mayonnaise & mustard, tasting until you achieve the right balance.
Assemble the sandwiches, tucking in a handful of unchopped rucola or other greens if you’re so inclined.

With any luck, you’ll have some left over for later ...

For perfect hard-boiled eggs: Put the eggs in a pan and cover with cool water. Bring the water to a boil, then keep the water at a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Let the eggs sit for 12 minutes, drain the water and put a crack in each egg (this lets the sulfur, which causes the smell and the dull green color, escape). Cover the eggs with cold water and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. Start peeling at the large end.

April ended with a ‘notte bianca’—a white night. On these celebratory spring or summer evenings the city hosts a multitude of events that continue until dawn. This time the night ended up being on the chilly side, but the streets and piazzas were still filled with people enjoying the festive atmosphere.

My favorite initiative was ‘Il Bosco Sul Ponte’, an installation on Ponte alla Carraia (two bridges west of Ponte Vecchio). Despite the fact that the bridge is typically busy with traffic and lined with parked cars, the far-reaching views to the east and west invite people to linger along its low walls—it’s an ideal place to enjoy a gelato from Gelateria La Carraia while watching the sunset. And now, during the month of May, everyone can take advantage of the piazza-like space that has appeared along the western side of the bridge.

It’s amazing what a difference a few dozen trees, housed in sacks intended for refuse, and ‘beanbags’, fabricated from the same bags, can make. The concept was ‘to create a place out of a non-place’, an idea that seems very much in the spirit of the original role played by Florence’s bridges, which traditionally served as much more than mere links between the city’s two sides. With its little buildings perched off the sides, and small piazza at the center, Ponte Vecchio is the only one reminiscent of the multi-functional historic bridges. But for the next month, Ponte alla Carraia promises to give residents and visitors a new way to experience one of these essential links between Florence’s two banks.!/group.php?gid=49528782402&v=infoshapeimage_19_link_0

~ il bosco sul ponte ~

won’t be open this May, I decided to read it this month, while my daughter was spending Easter with her father. As I had noted in The Piazzas of Florence, I struggle constantly with my need for solitude, but I always find comfort in AML’s writings. She believed periods of solitude to be the key to maintaining one’s ‘center’, and counseled time spent alone ‘sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day’. Her shell-inspired meditations first took root during one of her own solitary retreats, over half a century ago.
    Since it can be difficult to follow a creative thread in the

~ Gift From the Sea ~

~ Easter Egg Salad Sandwiches ~ 

When we lived in the US we used to have an Easter egg    hunt in our backyard each year. After the children had      found all of the eggs, we would turn the real ones into Easter Egg Salad and then make sandwiches. We no longer have a backyard, but our Easter Egg Salad Sandwich tradition continues ... Of course, what makes  it ‘Easter Egg Salad’ is merely a question of timing, and the fact that we use the eggs we’ve decorated. (I still remember trying, unsuccessfully, to find white eggs our first Easter in Italy, but by now we’ve grown used to the brown ones, which lend a nice background to paints and dyes, and are pretty in their own right.)
    We make egg salad rarely enough that it always seems   like a treat. These are our highly adaptable guidelines:

    Fortunately, with rare exceptions, the local churches have ‘real’ bells ... the kind that fly back and forth in the belfry, like children on swings. Mechanical bells can feel like more of an interruption, reminding me of the Gilmore Girls episode (In the Clamor and the Clangor) when a deceased resident bequeaths the funds to restore the defunct church bells. At first everyone is appreciative, but eventually the bells start grating on people’s nerves. When the Reverend happens upon two of the townspeople ‘breaking’ the bells, he looks momentarily surprised, but quickly assents, “Carry on.”
    Being so used to the company of the bells, I find that the few days before Easter feel strangely empty. Once Holy Thursday draws to a close, the bells rest in silence, resuming only just before midnight marks the official arrival of the most important day of the Catholic calendar: Easter Sunday.

Above  Just before 10 pm on Good Friday, the voices of a religious procession passing along the little street below our apartment drew me to the window. Multi-colored dots representing the candles carried by the worshippers were all that my camera captured of the scene (reminding me of the jello cups my friend had made for her daughter’s birthday the week before, inset, at top).

    One of the best places to enjoy the bells is up at the Rose Garden (which, disappointingly, continues to be closed for restoration). Along with tiny pressed wildflowers, the books I like to reread at the garden each year are sprinkled with jottings about the bells and their distinctive dings and dongs: “5:15 ~  bells are floating up from the city and down from San Miniato ... 5:21~ the Duomo’s bells are still chiming!! ... 5:30 ~ San Miniato’s tin can bells have just marked the half-hour.”../Lisa_McGarry/arzigogolare/Entries/2009/5/14_At_the_Rose_Garden.html../Lisa_McGarry/arzigogolare/Entries/2009/5/14_At_the_Rose_Garden.htmlshapeimage_31_link_0shapeimage_31_link_1

One book I read at the Rose Garden each spring is Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. But since the garden

There are many varieties
of trees; the pink blossoms on this one caught my eye.

The argonauta is one of the shells around which AML weaves her meditations on the various stages of a woman’s life.

Signs of life are everywhere these days: in the herbs flourishing on the windowsill, the blue hydrangea blooming in the kitchen window, the wild foxgloves growing out of roof top crevices and birds nesting in the eves ... The older generation has renewed the tradition of bringing chairs to gather in the park just down the hill from the church of San Miniato (photo below), and the whole city is alive with people, light and color.../Lisa_McGarry/arzigogolare/Entries/2009/3/4_Flowers_on_the_windowsill.html../Lisa_McGarry/arzigogolare/Entries/2009/3/25_The_blue_hydrangea.html../Lisa_McGarry/arzigogolare/Entries/2009/3/25_The_blue_hydrangea.htmlshapeimage_38_link_0shapeimage_38_link_1shapeimage_38_link_2

midst of the unavoidable daily distrac-tions, I use these solitary interludes when my daughter is away as chances to ‘replenish the spring’... to reconsider my goals and make a leap in my creative work. And so, in this season that’s synonymous with growth and renewal, I find myself duly replenished.