Liberation Day, in Italy. One of those many national holidays which jump up and catch the unwary, with the fact that everything is unexpectedly closed...but (after only thirteen years here) it has now sufficiently entered our consciousness that we're ready for it, when it comes round yet again. An unkind question would be to ask precisely from what it is that the Italians are celebrating having been liberated, given their somewhat chequered history during the early forties - and, as Charles says, there isn't an Italian from that period alive today who wouldn't swear on the grave of their father that they had all along been supporters of the allies, and had opposed to the death those awful, occupying (well, after the armistice, anyway...) Germans. Not a subject for dinner party chatter, when all's said and done.
The bells rang long and loud from Santa Caterina, this morning - I imagine for the annual Liberation Day service, when the small piazza in front of the church is populated every year with a variety of people in a variety of ruritanian military costumes; my favourites are the bersaglieri, with ostrich-plume hats dyed in dark colours that wouldn't have shamed Queen Alexandra at a Palace Garden Party circa 1908....except worn on this occasion generally by short, stocky men, strutting around like turkey cocks.
Strangely, since the bells usually drive him to distraction, the four-footed completely ignored them, this morning. And now they and the rest of town have subsided into holiday silence. Sadly, not as sunny today as it has been recently -although, even as I write, the sun is trying to break through.
The house has been swathed for days in heady scents from the garden: the courtyard is dense with clouds of jasmine in bloom; and the office terrace has a light carpet of blossoms which drift fitfully down from the orange tree which now towers above it; across the yard, pendant fat white wisteria flowers edge the roofline of the barn, and elswhere in the garden various clematis montanas decorate the pergolas. The azaleas bloom generously, as the camellias (finally!) draw to a close, and the roses, industrially heavy with bud, are just now starting to open. Bearded irises are about to burst into flower, on all sides, and already the fruit is beginning to swell on the apricot trees. No photographs to show, sadly, as my camera has finally and conclusively given up the ghost, and the replacement won't be with me for several weeks.
Two nights ago, I saw the first firefly of the year. By mid-May, we shall be inundated with hundreds of thousands of the things...
Kerala stuffed pancakes (crepes stuffed with keema, breadcrumbed and fried, and then served with a tomato sauce)
Lamb cutlets in parmesan; courgettes with pancetta
Egg-white chocolate soufflé