Monday, November 29, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
My first visit to Arezzo was with a colleague of mine at Castello di Casole a few summers ago. The town was only an hour and a half away and neither of us had ever been, so we grabbed a guidebook, jumped in her convertible and headed east. Upon arriving we walked around the city center, poked our heads into a few churches and shops and admired the main piazza. Then we had a nice lunch and left. It was a pleasant enough experience but I wasn’t feeling the urge to return anytime soon.
Daniela and I didn’t have tickets to watch the tournament in the stands, thank god, so we gathered around a television outside a bar to watch the spectacle in the piazza. You would think that the knights would be racing towards one other trying to knock each other off their horses, right?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
We bypassed the Duomo and all of the main sights I had already seen several times and stopped at the Tourist Office in the Piazza de Priori to pick up a map of the town. On the way Lisa pointed out the local sandstone called “panchina” used in the buildings and pavement around town. When I looked down at the gritty grey stones under my feet, right there staring up at me was the perfectly preserved fossil of an ancient seashell.
Lisa guided a reluctant me out of the shop and we continued further down the street to the Roman amphitheater and baths that date back to the first century. We were able to view the partially recreated site perfectly from this vista. Lisa told me that the amphitheater functioned as the town dump for centuries until an archeologist discovered ruins underneath and patients from the insane asylum in town were enlisted to dig out the trash.
Monday, July 12, 2010
A day at a bagno in Viareggio costs anywhere from 15 to 30 euro, and you can pay by the day or month, or like many Italian families do, the whole summer. Some of the bagnos even have swimming pools. The key is to get chairs as close to the sea as possible where the breeze is the strongest. In order to do so, you need to arrive early or even call a bagno to reserve your space ahead of time. Food always being a priority for me and Daniela, we walked past bagno after bagno until our stomachs stopped us in front of a little café on the beach at Bagno Guido.
Back at the bagno Daniela took a little nap while I did some yoga under the shade of our umbrella. At the end of the day we threw on our beach cover-ups and took a stroll along the Promenade. Noticing that the July sales were in full swing, we couldn't resist poking our heads into a few shops along the way. I found a great summer dress by one of my favorite Italian designers, Massimo Rebecchi (you can never have enough dresses in Florence) and Daniela bought some blue Tom Ford sunglasses that she was particularly excited about and which happen to look fantastic on her.
Since it was Sunday, otherwise knows as the worst possible day of the week to go to any beach in Italy given the traffic and the crowds, we decided to arrive in the afternoon. 3PM was late enough that we only waited ten minutes in the queue to park the car in the lot adjacent to the beach. Once inside we stopped to fuel up at the park’s bar and restaurant. After sliding into a parking space just steps from the beach, we headed south for about 15 minutes to a surprisingly secluded spot.
I was fascinated to learn from Paolo that there are cowboys in the Maremma called “butteri” who in the olden days used to wear velvet jackets and black hats while tending the cattle and sheep. Legend has it that Buffalo Bill and his circus came to the Maremma in the 1800s and challenged the butteri to a rodeo and guess who won??? According to Wikipedia, there are only five or six large herds still tended by butteri in the park today, however the tradition of the butteri lives on outside the park in small demonstrations in the region's rural towns and in the Italian equivalent of rodeos.
We started with a mixed seafood antipasti featuring five different fish and shellfish, then we shared a tender white fish called corvina cooked Maremma-stye in foil with tomatoes, parsley, clams, mussels and juniper berries from bushes in the sand dunes all along the coastline. The waiter, who spent a good ten minutes perfectly fileting our fish tableside, recommended an unusual and unusually good Maremma white wine made from the French Voignier grape. I ate every morsel on my plate and drank every drop in my glass and proceeded to pass out for most of car ride home. Thank god Paolo was driving…