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Spring in Tuscany 2023 – Small Doses #76

In retrospect we really should rewrite this whole post. It was written in one go, well over a week ago. Then of course we got a little carried away with work and didn’t post it. The festival came and went – so it’s now outdated. But it feels real, and it just so happens that summer arrives tomorrow –  so perfect timing, and we’re not going to rewrite it. It’s a pretty fair representation of our spring in Tuscany.

As I sit here and write this, workers scramble on the street to get the town ready. They’re trimming the wild weeds growing on the sidewalks. Weeds are taking over every little nook and cranny where an exposed patch of dirt might host some hidden seeds that would eventually grow and bloom into something – totally normal for this time of the year.

I can hear Marilia say something to the cat in between tracks on the headphones. She was listening to Okkervil River a little while ago, I could hear that too. Meanwhile I spent the morning listening to old Against Me! records, trying to block out the noise from the machinery downstairs. I now also hear the washer, which means Marília checked the forecast and it’s probably gonna be sunny. Which rules, because it has been raining nonstop this year.

The town is in a complete frenzy as it gets ready. The Mostra del Chianti Montespertoli (Chianti Wine Exhibition) is the town’s largest event, and with a town that takes wine so seriously (we have our own DOCG denomination), it’s the only thing on people’s minds. The festival engulfs us, so we may as well enjoy it. And as it is the town’s main business card – the town needs to look great before Saturday. It’s now Thursday.

Stands are already set up all over the main square for each specific winery participating. They will be selling wine glasses but thinking about doing business on a larger scale. There are wine tastings. People come from abroad to buy wine. There are also food stands and games – and on a few select dates – food vendors also take over the streets near the town’s main piazza and set up shop. That includes our street. Last year we had a caramel candy stand in front of our house (update, the same thing happened this year). Opening the windows during the heatwave going on meant getting a whiff of caramelized nuts and uninvited mosquitoes. That wasn’t the best week sleep-wise. We’re glad it’s a little cooler this year and we can keep the windows shut.

But this hurried last-minute sprint to get the town ready was also a wake-up call to us: We had been meaning to make this post since Spring started. I guess it’s a little serendipitous that this is just now getting to you – as it’s also a major transition for us as well. (Update, we’re horrible people)

Not to mention that summer officially starts tomorrow. To us, summer last year meant one thing (besides the horrible heat): our first wedding season after moving here.

Last night we played a little hooky for a few hours and instead of writing this, or doing other things that needed catching up, we watched MerPeople on Netflix. After all the Merman jokes made by me (Thank you, Derek Zoolander), we ended up binging the whole thing. Escapism and trying to understand a subculture that was completely unknown to us turned into a pretty deep night in our household.

One take away from the show is that “Mermaiding” (?) gives people an outlet for them to be themselves, which is always incredible. But as people make life choices that involve choosing careers based on said outlet, we can’t help but relate to it a little bit. And as we see how much time and effort others put into making something that may seem so “trivial” to most – their livelihoods – we spent the best part of the evening last night debating our own life choices. Not so much debating, but going from “we’re going to be starving artists forever” to being grateful that we get to make a very simple living from doing what we love. And allowing us to do what we love on our time off as well.

“Time off”. That’s been a weird thing to deal with since our move. Before Italy, weddings were pretty much evenly spaced out throughout the year. Maybe with an usually busy occasional May or September. But we were stepping on eggshells all the time. We might have a wedding today, then another one in two weeks – every month – for the year.

Now we have seasons. Both wedding ones and weather ones. Which is funny, after moving here straight from the tropics.

Having seasons gives us time again. Time to redo websites when things are slow. Time to go play in the snow when it’s cold and not have to worry about pulling a muscle on the day before a wedding. But saying it has been an adjustment is an understatement. Learning to fluctuate between being incredibly busy and totally dead has been a challenge. And as one of my favorite writers, Wesley Eisold, mentioned in his newsletter – When you’re in the middle of either end of the spectrum, which end up being completely different storms on their own, it looks like those periods will never end. You don’t remember what being in the other spectrum feels like. It’s been hard.

As a series of unusual showers and cool weather for this time of the year give way to the heat, we’re slowly embracing change. Our first few weddings of the year have happened (the first one of them being a very wet one) and while this was meant to be a whole thing about the transition from Winter to Spring, it’s now a “summer is on our doorsteps” thing.

Spring was great. It gave us our best few months here yet. It’s by far our favorite season in Tuscany, but this one was a lot more rewarding than the last – maybe because of being better adapted to this being our new home.

Random thought time:

1. We joined a photography club in town. We’re the only professionals there. I think everyone there loves photography more than us. All joking aside, it’s probably a little true.

2. We’ve been doing a lot of our “behind-the-scenes” work in English, which has been great. I (Frankie) felt weird not getting to use it as often while we lived in Brazil, but it’s been so nice going back to a language where I feel I express myself better in.

3. We got a large planter for our Terazza. Right now we’re growing Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes (both yellow and red), Florentine Tomatoes, Parsley, Coriander AND Basil. First aphids got to everything, then caterpillars. Now we’re good I’m hoping we’re going to be eating eggplant by the end of next week.

4. We’re still struggling to make friends here.

5. I got a pizza oven for my birthday, which has been a GREAT weekend outdoor activity on our terraza. Have jokingly talked about doing an experience where we bring people over after portrait shoots and make them pizza.

6. Still don’t know how we’ve managed to decide to move across the planet without a solid job or booked gigs – but we still managed to have things work out.

7. I’ve been feeling horrible about my own photography, to a point that it turned into a bit of a depression. I’m trying to work through it right now. Maybe working so hard at making all of this work stuff work out is the reason why it did work out, but also because of this uneasiness-slash-anxiety I’ve been feeling.

8. Marilia wants to get another cat. I do too.

9. The catering at the last few weddings we photographed were incredible. They weren’t expecting a vegetarian vendor, so they were kind enough to make me a special option of a pear & mascarpone Ravioli at one wedding, then another delicious cheese ravioli at the next. The vendors could also choose between drinking white or red wine at both weddings. What a difference from having to explain that we need to eat.

10. There isn’t a single day where something about living here doesn’t blow our minds in a positive way.

11. We’re quickly finding out the negative things about here that annoy us as well. Current one is how quickly able-bodied persons make the horrible decision to park in accessible parking spots. We see it happen almost every day and it drives us insane.

Here are some visual memories from our spring in Tuscany, some stills to go along with the reel we posted on our instagram and with the newsletter we’re sending out soon.

Sorry for this post being gigantic. Felt like writing. It had been too long.

H.A.G.S.

xoxo

-Frankie & Marilia