Epiphany is a holiday here in Tuscany, so we have been gently easing back into life on our hillside after a short week of exploring. The Befana seems to have replaced Wise Men around here as the main focus: an old lady who hands gifts to children, occasionally in stockings, apparently, in a strange act of cultural fusion. We decided we’d stick to Father Christmas, but we did enjoy the wonderful Befana biscuits baked by our kind neighbour, sitting on the terrace in the sun. Our very own flesh and blood Befana, I suppose, who appeared just as tea was brewing. Magic indeed.
While friends minded our beloved chickens, we had two nights in Bologna, and three in Venice. The grown-ups knew both, but it was wonderful to gear the experience to a 5 and 8 year-old. Bologna offered beautiful inspiration to a quilter, with warm light shining on endless red bricks. People dress beautifully too, despite the freezing cold. Rarely have I seen so many real fur coats, worn by young and old, without any apparent fuss. Italians do cold weather with style!
In Bologna, we mostly just walked and walked, and sheltered in cafés for hot chocolate and biscottis. Of the few monuments we did visit, I was most taken by the walls of one old church, part of the extraordinary Basilica di Santo Stefano.
It is difficult to take bad photos of Venice but the thing I really wanted to photograph was the amazing mosaic floor of St Mark, but despite others shooting away, I obediently followed the signs telling me not to. Amazing, if totally daunting, inspiration for a quilter. No doubt pictures are available somewhere online, such as here (st marks floor. ) Instead, here are two random ones that I took with the iPad… We were so lucky with sun all day every day, despite the cold. No flooding, either. Was I perhaps secretly disappointed about that?
Having got home, I picked up a long-abandoned project and finally got round to attaching the hand-pieced hexies to the background.
I’ve got enough scrappy red and white four-patches for another border. I’ve squared up half of them already. But real life picks up again tomorrow, or at least real life as experienced during research leave in this most beautiful location. I will link this up to Jessica’s Monday Morning motivation party.
During my travels, I carried the iPad in my nifty little pouch made from fabric from the gorgeous Ms L. Such technology is a bit of a curse really, as it means you never really get away from life… So it might as well be in something pretty! I sewed this quickly one evening of December before a trip to Paris to examine a PhD. It makes me smile every time I unzip it.