Well, summer has arrived with temperatures in the upper 20s and lower 30 degrees, the farmers have cut the hay and the swifts are swooping and squeaking. The wildflowers are lovely at this time of year and that is very timely, as today (7th June) is the Infiorate or celebration of Corpus Domini where all the towns and villages decorate their streets with amazing works of art made from flower petals. One of the most famous of these is at Spello in Umbria.
I’m sure those of you who have stayed in the big Italian cities have experienced being woken up by a cacophony of church bells early in the morning (well on holiday it seems very early!). Well, it’s not only the cities that can be noisy. Don’t think that country life is all peace and tranquillity. We live in a small village in the countryside and whereas at times it can be peaceful, most of the time it isn′t. There is all the farm machinery clattering down the road, the chain saws cutting wood for the fire, the strimmers cutting the grass, the cocks crowing (even in the middle of the night), the dogs barking, and on summer evenings I can hear the clack of the balls as my neighbours play the Italian version of boules.
When we moved here, the village church was being repaired after the earthquake in the 1990s and so I was rudely awakened one morning after we had lived here for over a year, when the bells rang for the first time at 8 a.m. When I say bells well, they are electronic and play a hymn. I can’t remember the name but the chorus is Ave, Ave Ave Mari – a. I remember asking my neighbour do they ring every day and her assuring me that yes they did – 365 days a year, in fact. At noon we also have a single toll bell, presumably to tell the farm workers that it’s lunchtime, which is useful when you are gardening and lose track of time, and then again we can have other tunes (I don’t know who decides what to play) at the afternoon service. In fact the village priest is kept extremely busy tending the needs of several villages and saying Mass in them all. I am always amazed how he manages to visit every house in his Parish in the run up to Easter, performing a Blessing at each of them.