Out into nature
About a kilometre outside the walls, where Borgo Giannotti meets the site of the weekend market, there is a great walk to be had alongside the Serchio River.
I power-walked through the centro storico and up Borgo G, dodging the inevitable queues and oddly parked vehicles. The sidewalks here less than a metre wide; there is no way you can respect the distance, so you step off into the road and the cars drive around you.
And there it is – lush green growth under an azure sky. Nothing has been mown or trimmed for two months and nature has had a ball with leaves, long waving grasses and wildflowers. The dog park has chest-high grasses in places, interrupted now and then by a bouncing dog.
Along the roadside, buttercups, daisies, something purple, something white – and those stunning red poppies. Between the road and the river, the bank features an odd assortment of bamboo, trees, weeds and – corn! The flooding here can be severe and all manner of plants end up relocated.
Today, the river is only a few metres deep at best; there are shingle islands for the cormorants, little pools for the fish and the occasional egret, startingly white.
The greens are so green and the blue sky so blue it almost looks fake. If you discount the Mediterranean-style houses at the start of the walk, you could be just about anywhere in the world.
We met again by coincidence on Sunday and this time we continued downriver to Monte San Pietro; a small village lining one side of the river. In the distance, the towers of Nozzano, another good walk.
I noted many things during this walk. I should have worn sunscreen and I now have a farmer’s singlet tan. I cannot wait for the shoe shops to open, so I can buy proper trail shoes and walking sandals. I need a bike.
They're "pretty shots" - mostly, trees, grass, the river, and the sky. The thing is, after being pretty much confined to the inside of the wall, this great sweep of nature was almost overwhelming.