A quick visit yesterday to northern Italy, the town of Reggio Emilia in the Emilia Romagna region. We chose to drive there over the mountains - the double ranges of the Alpi Apuane and the Appenines, winding our way through steep valleys and over tortuous passes. There was snow still lying under trees on the higher slopes, but the alpine meadows were ablaze with spring flowers and cherry blossom.
It took us about 5 hours to drive 100 miles, but it was worth it to see some of the most isolated upland villages and the views (despite hazy cloud) were spectacular, though difficult to photograph because of the haze.
We went through the small medieval town of Castiglione di Gafagnana, where the fortifications still stand and there are 12th century churches and buildings everywhere.
Emilia Romagna is one of the most wealthy region of Italy - fertile plains and a lot of manufacturing. Quite different to Tuscany. The town of Reggio Emilia is fairly modern by Italian standards - wide streets and imposing 18th and 19th century buildings - but lovely soft colours and it has a friendly, laid back feel to it.
We lazed in the piazza over a coffee and indulged in a bit of 'people watching' which seems to be a favourite Italian pastime.
We were there for the exhibition opening of one of the Pietrasanta artists - Norwegian painter Dora Bendixon.
The show’s called ‘Hombres’ and contains portraits and drawings of a family group as they interact with each other in the way that families do.
She uses light and shade to reveal the psychodynamics of the family, and when she uses colour, it’s very rich. Dora is a wonderful portrait painter - she brings her subjects alive on canvas.
After the show, a late dinner at a backstreet restaurant that served local, rather than tourist, food and a much quicker (2 hour) drive back on the autostrada. The car, fortunately, didn’t turn into a pumpkin on the motorway and we were home and in bed before 2am. And not a moment too soon, if this sneaky snap taken by the Pri-mate is to be believed. A fabulous day!