Sunday mornings here are generally pretty low-key - which is strange, really, since it's hardly as though the preceding Saturday nights are scenes of unbridled debauchery in the streets of the town (quite the opposite, in fact - I should think most people are comfortably ensconced in front of the TV, if not actually tucked up in bed, by soon after sundown). The first Sunday of January, though, when we're still in the last days of the holiday period, is especially peaceful. One of the most promising times of the year to be doing anything which you don't want observed - which might explain why our neighbour Professor C was this morning unloading a truck-load of bricks in an otherwise deserted street, as we were heading off with the four-footeds for their morning constitutional in the Martyrs' Square. And if there was any doubt about his intentions, his shifty glare in our direction pretty much confirmed the truth, as the senior four-footed nonchalently cocked his leg against the frame of our portone. Ah well - nothing like a little permit-free illicit construction work to get the year started!
Glorious sunshine, and the streets and squares of the town completely empty. A brilliantly blue sky, and a bite in the air that was exhilerating up until the point that it suddenly just became uncomfortably cold. A very light frost on the grass - which I hope is as bad as it will get for the whole winter, otherwise the citrus trees will be at risk. Pisa in general is several degrees warmer in winter than either Florence or Lucca (even though the latter is only twenty minutes away , on the other side of the Monte Pisano) which is why the Medici court used to base itself here during the winter months, and why we can have lemon and orange trees planted in the soil, rather than in pots that have to be taken indoors to avoid the cold. Up in Belforte, their lemon tree spends the winter in the middle of the laundry room, which is not the most practical of arrangements when you're trying to get at the washing machine!
Twenty minutes spent appreciating the aesthetics of the town in winter sunshine, and then home for much-needed coffee, and chocolate and almond cake, while the dogs luxuriate in the warmth from the underfloor heating.
Aubergine, Parmesan & Anchovy Tarts.
Blanquette of Guinea Fowl.
Upside-down Caramel Cream