Spring in Padova

Spring is my favorite time of year, and in Padova, it has its own unique sights, sounds and smells.

Whereas fall clings to the last bits of light and heat that slowly drain away, spring is full of promise, and even if it’s not that warm out yet, after a long, cold winter, those first days where the sun’s strength shines through are wonderful.

In my home town of Eugene, in Oregon, spring is a fairly drawn out affair. It starts with a few warmish days as early as February, and my recollection is that the last day of drizzle is usually the 4th of July. In between, you slowly trade gray and rain for more and more sunny days, and warmer temperatures, until at last you arrive at summer, which in Oregon is pretty much perfect: warm days, blue skies, no humidity. The only problem is that it’s altogether too brief and inevitably ends before you’ve done everything you hoped to during the nice weather. The evergreen forests also contribute to the gradual feel to spring: they are of course green throughout the winter, and while they start growing again in the spring, the change is a slow one that’s not very flashy.

Contrast this with Padova, where the temperatures don’t rise much through March, and the trees mostly remain bare, until all of a sudden spring explodes. In the space of a month, the trees go from bare to a bright, resplendent green, and the air warms, already carrying a hint of the humidity that will become oppressive during the summer. At first, you see just a few green buds only on close inspection, and then quickly the south sides of hills go green, and then everything is alive with foliage. In the nearby colli euganei, one of the sights in the spring are the “Judah Trees”, which stand out with their purple flowers.

The scent of late spring and early summer is also something particular to Italy. Having grown up there, the comparison for me is with western Oregon, where there is none of the light and sharp pine-scented mountain air that you get further up towards the east side of the cascades, but more of a sodden, mouldering fir-needle smell as things gradually dry out, which can take a lot of time in the darkest nooks and crannies of the forest floor, where the heat and sunlight rarely intrude. The contrast is striking: here in Italy, the generally still, humid air is soon laden with sweet flowering smells, as everything blooms at the same time. Granted, that same humidity is no fun later on in the summer, but during late spring, it can feel like walking in a garden. It’s a very “alive”, uplifting smell, of new growth, that later gives way to the sultry summer.

Spring is, of course, a great time to visit the area: it’s pleasant out, and you can still be active without gushing sweat, and naturally, if you love the outdoors like I do, it’s a great time to go for a hike in the hills to take in the verdant panorama.

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