08 Feb 2012

I find observing the elements around me utterly fascinating, almost magical. No wonder ancient peoples used to worship them… We should at least respect them.

The Elements and the Seasons: Fire and Water

fire14

When my friends of the Italy Blogging Roundtable proposed as this month’s topic “the elements”, I was enthusiastic. I find observing the elements and their primeval power around me utterly fascinating, almost magical. Fire, Air, Water and Earth can be sources of joy and wonder or pain and fear. So here is how I see two of the elements through the seasons in Tuscany.

Fire

Fire is as beautiful as it is powerful. It can warm up your nights in winter, be it in the privacy of your home or around a festive bonfire such as those organized on Monte Amiata to celebrate the New Year.

fire

(Photo by =PASqua=)

bonfires santa fiora

(By maxche)

It can colour the countryside in spring when it’s time to burn the pruned olive tree branches.

fire in the countryside of Tuscany

(Photo by icopythat)

In the summer, it can be the heart of the village festivals where the local men will gather around large braziers and cook steaks and saussages!

cortona steak festival

(Photo by gordonjcoe_uk)

Or it could warm up a cool summer night on the beach, when you sit with your friends around a bonfire looking at the sea.

bonfire on the beach

(Photo by gianlucaxx)

But please, beware… lighting bonfires on the beach (or elsewhere) is not permitted in Tuscany. It is very dangerous in the summer as it might start a larger fire, especially if the beach is by the pine tree woods.

Fire can be beautiful but also terribly scary and devastating. In the summer it is not uncommon for large fires to destroy vast areas of the countryside of or woods. They are sometimes started deliberately but they are often the result of negligence: a cigarette butt thrown from a car window, a campfire lit to barbecue or a candle left unattained can be as dangerous as a bomb.

In the fall, fire burns in the braziers by the side of the road where chestnuts are roasted!

caldarroste

(Photo by giagir)

And then of course, there is the fire that accompanies the big celebrations in any city all year round…

fireworks in lucca

(Photo by Mirod)

And a very special mention goes to the fire that makes Pisa incredibly beautiful on June 16, on the occasion of the Luminara festival.

luminara pisa

And there is the fire that lights emotions… a hopeful candle in a church, a loving candle in a cemetery, romantic candles to celebrate a wedding in Tuscany, a stunning sunset…

candles in a church

(Photo by LeoLondon)

candles cemetery

(Photo by gone bunburying)

wedding in Tuscany

(Photo by Boutique Events – Wedding Planners in Tuscany)

sunset in tuscany

(Photo by To Tuscany)

Water

Writing about water this year, after the terrible tragedy of the floods in Cinque Terre, Lunigiana and Genoa is not easy. A special thought goes to all those people who have lost so much in those terrible events of course. But if it’s true that water can be destructive, it is also the source of life.

In winter, water can come to us as snow, like the thick coat which has covered Tuscany over the past few days.

snow in tuscany

(Our village under the snow, by Alice Rossi)

In spring, it makes our countryside bright green and beautiful.

spring in tuscany

tuscany in spring

In the summer, water is synonymous with the sea. Most Italians can’t wait for the summer to arrive so that they can go to the beach. Tuscany has a fabulous coast, and an archipelago that is one of the most important maritime parks in the country.

the coast of the Maremma in Tuscany

(Photo by pynomoscato)

And in the fall, there is nothing more beautiful than the little streams that cut through the woods and which you may come across unexpectedly while mushroom hunting or simply enjoying a walk in the pretty and colourful countryside.

stream in the woods in Tuscany

(Photo by pynomoscato)

And then there is water that makes our life better. The water of the many natural hot springs of Tuscany such as Petriolo, Saturnia, and Bagni San Filippo

hot spring in tuscany ::  Saturnia

(Photo of Saturnia by Juergen Kurlvink)

…the water of the fountains which make our cities so beautiful…

fonte gaia siena

(Siena – Photo by Effervescing Elephant)

…the water of the public fountains that quench our thirst when we wander around (this one is in my village)…

water fountain in Civitella

…the water that filled the fountains where women used to go to do the laundry (I can’t imagine climbing back to the village with wet linens… They must have been very heavy!)…

Le fonti Civitella Marittima

…the water that moved the presses in the mills for centuries…

water mill near Siena tuscany

(Photo by fabrizio64)

…the water of the rivers that flow through the cities, which provide the perfect background for lovely nights out or for quiet walks on the river banks…

piagge pisa

(Photo by Ivan Louis)

No wonder every ancient people has worshipped the elements. We should at least try to respect them and our environment more.

Earth and Air… to follow!

Italy Blogging Roundtable

italy travel blog roundtableThis is the nineth post in a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Here you can find the posts of the other bloggers who participate in the roundtable. Our topic this month was “the elements“:

Alexandra (Arttrav) – Destructive Elements – Italian churches damaged by earth, water, air and fire

Jessica (Why Go Italy) – Italy’s Active Volcanoes

Melanie (Italofile) – Braving the Elements: A Rare Snowfall in Rome

Rebecca (Brigolante) – Earth: 47, Morto che Parla

Comments

  1. Talking water… and fire
    Bagni san Filippo, south of Siena, have ‘fire hot water’ that you can enjoy either in the sophisticated SPA or in a natural steam in the wood! Maybe just before enjoying a night out at the Fiaccole in Abbadia San Salvatore (picture above showing a bonfire)

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