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Report 454: Florence On My Own: Three Weeks of Studying Italian and Very Slow Travel

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2004

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Page 11 of 21: A restful day, and an Arezzo day

photo by Marian

Piazza Grande - Arezzo

Saturday 15 May: Today I have a relaxing day, just hanging out in my little garden, reading and snacking. The weather is still very lovely. I walk just far enough to buy some nice nail polish, and do my nails in the garden. In the evening, I meet John and his daughter Gennie at Borgo Antico. (His wife is not feeling well, and does not join us.) We have a pleasant dinner, sitting outside. The restaurant is more touristy than I would like, and I regret having chosen it, but the food turns out to be fine. Once our orders arrive and we taste our food, we all relax some. Of course the wine helps too. John is a microbiologist in Kansas; Gennie has just graduated from college in Texas. We have a very pleasant evening, chatting.

Sunday 16 May: Today I go to Arezzo with Rosemarie. She had wanted to travel further, suggesting Ravenna, but I am much to much of a Slow Traveler for that. Arezzo is only a short train ride from Florence; coincidentally I have heard Marco suggest it to one of the other students as a good day trip. My goal is to see the Piero Della Francesca frescoes in the San Francesco church. It is not clear to me exactly why, but apparently one needs to be part of a guided tour to see them.

Arezzo is a lovely, hilly town. After determining that we cannot get into San Francesco until about 1:30 at the earliest, we start wandering up the hills. I notice that there is some sort of modern art exhibit in one of the buildings, but it is not so easy to find the building! I eventually do, and it is small and very nice: “Da Picasso A Butero”. We wander around the beautiful Piazza Grande, near the top of the city; its irregular shape and slant remind me of the Campo in Siena.

Then we buy tickets to see the frescoes, for a time after lunch, as we are getting quite hungry. We stop in at one of the many restaurants we have passed on our way up the hilly streets, Il Saraceno, and have a pleasant, relaxed lunch. Then down to San Francesco and the frescoes. We are on time, but somehow are not sure that we have the right group. Anyway, there is a French-speaking guide, who I ignore. The frescoes are lovely, but I can see them on my own with the aid of my trusty Michelin Green Guide. The faces are expressive; the only disturbing part of this “Story of the True Cross” series is the scene where they are pushing the Jew down into a pit as the villain.

We are quite warm, and stop off for a drink before heading back to the train. I order a limonata, which somehow turns out to be hot lemon water. This is not what I expected, but everyone seems confused, so I just settle for some acqua minerale. And back to the train, and back home to get ready for another week. Already, I am more than halfway into my time in Florence, and I see that it will not be nearly enough.

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