The sky burned bright yellow Sunday afternoon, before giving way to a January thunderstorm and introducing a double rainbow, which arced over Broadway and spilled its pot of gold across Saratoga. It brought to mind the last time I’d witnessed such an unusual sky, a couple of years ago and many miles away. Notes on a napkin:
Today, just the walled city still stands in the historic quarter of town, in the medieval part of the village. Along thin cobbled roads, the mortar of many civilizations - marble, brick and a mix of stones - form the architecture.
Here, 75 miles south from Rome, the morning begins with a shot of espresso. Last night it ended beneath a double rainbow arcing over the bay.
A man who looks to be in his 70s stands nearby.
“Scusa,” I said, squeezing by him atop the narrow walkway. This time of year, the man explains, he would normally be caring for the earth in preparation of spring. Instead he spends most of the afternoon swatting at the falling snow with a small whisk broom.
“Prego,” he gestures with a wave of the hand; a lonely figure amid a panorama of clay-orange roofs and looming cypress trees, bewildered by the speckles of snow fixed to their limbs.
This seaside town has endured countless attempts of conquer, from the French invaders of the Middle Ages to German occupiers during World War II. But this is something different. A double rainbow followed by a freakish fall of snow.
In Italy, 57 million people drive 30 million cars through streets lined with 2,700 years of cultural history, yet there exists not one single shovel. Instead, the natives muscle brooms across the cobbled sidewalks. They link together paper clips to form makeshift chains and attach them to the tires of their cars. The children meanwhile, like children everywhere, are giddy. Makeshift sleds are created from scraps of cardboard.
A series of church bells suddenly rings out and the sky fills with a million startled birds. A row of storefronts along the road boast cheese and pastry and baked bread. There is an espresso cafe, a lingerie shop, and a fresh fruit market.
The gleeful sounds of children permeate everything. Laughing in Italian. Gliding down the slick hills.