It’s May. Nearly mid-May, actually, since the first part of the month seems to have spun away into nothingness without me noticing anything, rushing past while my mind was telling me that we were still lingering somewhere near the beginning of April.
May means that we’re deep into the heart of spring, a season that always manages to surprise me. Winter in Rome is such an undramatic, subtle affair that I never really notice its arrival; the trees shed their leaves so slowly, and the vines cling to their colour and foliage for so long that I start to wonder whether they’ll just turn green again in a couple of months. Even the weather is generally unremarkable, chilly but not truly cold, damp but rarely continuously waterlogged.
It seems like such an anticlimactic season should fade out quietly and slide smoothly into spring. But spring in Rome happens suddenly – one day the trees lining the Lungotevere are spindly and bare and buildings are still draped with the dead, woody bits of last year’s vines, and then, almost overnight, the whole city explodes into bloom.
Long strands of ivy cascade from roofs. Wisteria forms intensely perfumed canopies over entire courtyards. Vines climb their way up every available surface, clinging to walls that were bare a few days ago, and jasmine erupts into millions of tiny, fragrant blossoms. I find it irresistible, this abrupt shift from melancholy wintery Rome to bright, vibrant springtime Rome. It doesn’t last for long – soon, the temperature will start to creep steadily upwards until it’s undeniably summer – but for as long as it lingers, it’s wonderful.