Friday, 15 May 2009

Spring in the Sibillini

May is perhaps the best month up in the Sibillini mountains - brisk breezes team up with the spring warmth to require a well-packed backpack, with sweaters and sunhats often in use within half an hour of each other. Snow still clings to the peaks and makes getting to the upper reaches impossible on some roads. The newness of the season also means that only the dedicated - like us - are up there, so on most occasions you have the place to yourself.

And then there are the wildflowers. It's one of the primary calls of going up there (along with the best air in Italy and the feeling of freedom). I can't tell you what they're called, and I can't remember which ones bloom when, I just know I'm an ardent follower. It's a changing scene too - in a matter of weeks the characters and colours of the wildflower world will be changing, and again a couple of weeks after that. These constant shifts of the floral display are always a matter of wonder and admiration, and I'll never tire of it.

This past weekend we went up to our favourite spot, walked up to "our" ridge that looks east, north, and west for miles, with the Sibillini ridges stretching in blue waves to the south. We followed our usual habit of ambling up and slumbering silently in the sun, cool breeze requiring a pullover, and then drifting aimlessly over the earthy domes with ever-changing views over Le Marche and into Umbria and Lazio. It's magificent.

This time I spotted a grove of evergreens a little way down the ridge and so we stopped on our way down. Another world - a pine forest, not a dominant feature around here. Lush carpet of cool grass, an invititation into a verdant hideaway, and yet another perspective in a landscape of multiple personalities.

That's the thing about these mountains - there's always something new to explore, always a little corner that we haven't discovered before. It'll never get old.

Below are some pictures from the day. I should perhaps know better than to post pictures of flowers, but how can I wax so lyrical without giving an idea of what I'm talking about. (Click on the picture to launch a full-size version.)

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