In the past three years, Florence's marathon has grown up and it's been fun watching it grow as I have grown closer to my city. The marathon organization has tweaked every detail, from the course, to the publicity, to the ease of registration, traffic and spectator control, and especially the staging at the start and finish lines, not to mention free massages at the end. This year 11,000 runners participated from all over the world. After today's race, the Florence Marathon now ranks among the 20 most widely recognized marathons in the world. Once they decided to do it, they brought out their old Renaissance thinking caps and designed a seriously marathonic masterpiece.
For the past few days, the city has played host to these 11,000 visitors and their families, and you can feel the personality of these athletes all over Florence. The streets have been packed with a welcoming spirit. It's fun to watch others appreciating the city that I love.
The marathon was a spectacle to behold, the best one since I've lived here, not to mention we were blessed with outstanding running weather, blue skies and crisp, cool air. I cannot imagine the high of running through Florence, with a mass of 11,000 people, being aroused by the energy emanating from 700 years of art and architecture smack in front of you on every street, not to mention the natural beauty of the Arno and the hills that encase and crown the city. The Florence Marathon outdid itself this year.
Monday, November 21, 2011
While the prolonged summer resulted in an underproductive grape and olive harvest, not to mention no porcini anywhere, we've been rewarded with an equally prolonged, unseasonably warm autumn. Which has beckoned me to soak up these last days outside before surrendering to the winter. And so in the past month, I've abandoned my touring saddle to immerse myself in outdoor events, fairs, as well as riding for pleasure in the Tuscan countryside with friends.
But that's not all. Despite the political and economic disarray in Italy, over the past few months Florence has been outperforming itself in its repetoire of cultural events and there's no end in sight. The city has played host to an extravagant program of concerts, fairs, feasts and exhibits. New museums continue to pop up everywhere and the ever-more popular Mayor Renzi has launched countless new community initiatives, improvement projects, cultural events and forums. It is also the season for theater, classical music and opera, which abounds in Florence, making it hard to decide what to do next. Just in the past week, we've had an international documentary film fest, myriad ethnic feasts, sagre, truffle, wine and olio nuovo fairs, the Sicilian Fest, the Maggio Musicale.....the list goes on, leaving me litte time to blog.
But thanks to my IPhone, I've been able to capture a photo here and there! Memories of Autumn 2011.
Posted by Barbara at 8:03 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Riding the ridge from Tavarnelle to Cerbaia is breathtaking, rich in scenery, hidden castelli and great schiacciata stops. Even after years living and riding here, I am constantly taken by the urge to stop and take photos, which runs counter-intuitive to the impulse to keep pedaling. And as much as I want to stop and snap a photo, I seldom do, because that would interrupt the high of the moment. Having the roads of Tuscany so accessible and being able to experience them all year-round is a true blessing.
We've been lucky to have such enduring, crisp autumn weather, vivid colors, sharp blue skies, the smell of wood burning, birds still chirping, roses still blooming, and we're taking advantage of every lasting day before winter strikes!
Posted by Barbara at 9:16 PM
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
While fixing the flat on the side of the road, I could hear leaves and branches rustling in the woods.....my client had wandered into the brush, taking photos. Suddenly, an enraged hunter, fully decked out in camouflage gear, appeared out of the woods aiming his rifle directly at my client, angrily shouting and cursing in heavy Florentine country vernacular. He was enraged. Terrified at first, I realized that Chris had interrupted a potential "kill" while snapping photos of the hunter at work. The hunterman wanted Chris to turn over his camera. I tried to explain to the hunter that Chris is a tourist, innocently taking photos, meaning no harm. I was trying to protect my client without becoming his dinner. I apologized over and over again, hoping that he would relax and put his rifle down. Thank God he did. It was the quickest and shakiest flat I've ever fixed. We were out of there!
My real objective of that day was to ride through certain olive groves that I knew were already begining their raccolta (harvest). For all of Tuscany, this is a very exciting time of year. Last year was the first time that I experienced it firsthand, riding through the olives groves every day, watching them multiply and grow, preparing themselves to validate many a Tuscan dish.
Last year's raccolta was robust and abundant. There were ladders and people perched in every tree, nets all over the place, baskets and baskets of olives being transported to the frantoio (press). The buzz of the harvest electrified the countryside.
This year, the prolonged summer and lack of rain previsioned a meager harvest. As the months passed by, I could see that there weren't many olives on the trees, and those that were there were small. On this last work day, I was eager to catch some action, and I had to search it out. I took some side roads near Pisignano and alas, there we saw life in the olive groves, men and women in the trees, harvesting the olives. Always a sight to behold. Of course, we got off our bikes and asked permission to watch, and were welcomed with glee. On the invitation of one of the workers, my clients were invited to climb up the latter to help them pick! It was a blast and the clients were tickled with excitement. By the time we left, alot of smiles were shared and photos snapped.
It was a great way to end the touring year. When we arrived at Le Corti, they too were harvesting the olives and I was able to explain the press while it was in action. We even tasted the newborn oil, as it poured out of the press. Here's the video I took! Can't wait for next year, but very content to get back to city life in Florence.
Posted by Barbara at 10:29 PM