Today is 'Liberation Day', 'La festa della Liberazione'.
This was the scene at the 'Altare della Patria' in Rome today...
... and this was the same scene last year!
Happy Birthday to Rome
Founded in 753 BC, making it two thousand, seven hundred and seventy three years old today.
This year there were no firework displays over the River Tiber, gladiators around the Colosseum or crowds of tourists. The streets were quiet and empty, but Rome is always in the thoughts of not only Italians, but all those who have visited this special city.
Easter is the biggest religious festival in Italy, with parades taking place all over the country. All generations of families gather together, go to mass, enjoy the celebrations and have the huge, endless lunches that Italy is so famous for.
This time of year is also popular for tourists, with the mild spring weather just perfect for those who do not tolerate heat. Schools are on holiday and with pilgrims flocking to the city for mass at the Vatican, it is normally a busy place. This year, Pope Francis presided over the religious celebrations and was joined spiritually via television, radio and the internet.
Here, in a small community in southern Italy, almost everyone is self sufficient, to varying degrees. The older generations are almost entirely self sufficient and all still use the age-old methods of planting according to the phases of the moon. Everything that is grown is used, eaten fresh and then bottled or stored for the winter months.
At this time of the year the pruning, generally very harsh, has finished and things that need tying back have been neatly done ready for the warmer, growing months. Nothing is bought from the shops, not even things like twine or stakes. Everyone has a bamboo plant in their garden which provides canes, branches are cut from trees for larger stakes and golden willow is used as twine.
The vines are always tied back with the slender, supple golden willow branches which are natural, sustainable and biodegradable.
The word of the month is 'Pioggia'
April can be quite warm in most parts of Italy and rain is much needed to nourish and replenish the ground in order to prepare it for planting vegetables, fruit and flowers next month.
We say 'April showers bring forth May flowers'
, the Italians say 'Aprile, ogni goccia un barile'
- meaning - 'April, every drop (of rain) is a barrel (of wine)'.