Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

6:49 – The benefits of waking up early (photos)

Sunrise from sticciano facing northeast

Every culture has its expressions for why you should wake up early. In Italian it’s “la mattina ha l’oro in bocca” (morning has gold in the air – they haven’t smelled my breath, apparently) and “chi dorme non prende pesce”. The latter about not catching fish is their equivalent of the English “the early bird catches the worm,” an expression with some disegard to the human preference for fish over worms. Then there is my maternal grandfather’s favourite, “the beggar’s already in the next town,” which was said to me as a child around 7am and is likely a direct translation of something in Hungarian.

A recent study by the sleep center at the Ospedale delle Molinette di Torino revealed that the average weekday alarm clock in Italy is set for 6:49am. Tommaso and I are happy to learn that we are completely average, as ours is set for 6:50, so my internal clock makes my eyes pop open at 6:49, even on weekends. We are known to use the snooze button a few times, but sometimes I’ve actually rested enough to get up right away. Which is what I did this morning. And it’s a dang good thing.

There are lots of things you can do in the morning if you get up early enough. How much depends on where you are in life, for if you have a young child you’re likely taking care of him or her right away. As we don’t, I find the morning perfect for long emails to my mom, inspired blog posts, quiet time to prepare the next lesson or lecture I have to give, or other seated activities.

But when it’s suddenly summer, the outdoors beckons. This morning at 6:49 I looked out the window from our “cottage” in Maremma and saw that the sky was pinkish. Perhaps had I gotten up even earlier it’d have been more spectacular, but nonetheless I tossed on sweats and ran out with my camera. Our little town of Sticciano is on a hilltop so I walked around the “loop” required to record the sunrise from each cardinal direction. Here are my results.

In the west, pointing towards the sea, fog was creeping in and reflecting the sunrise behind me.

Sunrise from sticciano facing northeast

Looking through a hole in a rock directly at the sun coming up

Pointing east

What do you do with that little gift of time to yourself in the morning?

PS the cats were still dozing…

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.