Places, or 1 am ramblings

I haven’t written anything in a long time because school got crazy.  And now my new post isn’t even about Italy.

I’m graduating college in a few days.  That’s crazy.  i’ll never have to go to class or write papers or finished required readings or do something for a grade ever again.  That’s pretty weird.  Like I have two days before my family gets here, and I basically have nothing to do.  Give me an assignment, quick!

I’m not sure how I feel about leaving Humboldt.  Like I’ll be glad to get away from the weird transients (most of them are fine but one lady threatened to beat me up because I was talking to her boyfriend about his dog), and the constant smell of pot and the liquor stores and driving to Safeway at night and wondering if the ambulance and/or police will be at the bars yet.  I used to keep track of when they got there.  I’m definitely not going to miss EurTWEAKa.

But I was driving around the other day, out on Samoa and then around to Old Arcata Road, and looking at the fields with cows and their babies and the bay and the egrets that stand like sentinels in the grass; and I was walking down to Tin Can Mailman, the best used bookstore I’ve ever been to, and I was looking at the grass growing in the cracks in the sidewalk and the tiny yellow and white flowers growing in peoples’ front lawns, and I’ll miss that.  I’ll miss the hawks and the big eagle or vulture or whatever that flew in front of my car the other day.  I already miss hanging out with Sam almost every night and being obnoxious at Safeway at 11pm.  I miss riding on the front of the cart while he pretended to roll me into a stand of skillets.  I’m going to miss the smell of trees.

I have strong connections to places.  I go to South Pasadena and I’m a kid again, but also kind of an adult.  In Arcata I’m mostly an adult, but I’m also a college student.  In Firenze I was myself, because no one knew who I was.  On vacations I am a passenger, an explorer, an observer.

When I’m sad or miss a friend, I listen to the Beatles song In My Life.  The places that are gone or have changed, like the mountains near my house in LA.  Places I’ll remember all my life.  Firenze.  Humboldt.

Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up moving back out to the countryside, maybe on the central coast of California, like San Luis Obispo or something, because I know I’m going to miss the smell of the sky and the breeze saying summer is on its way.  I’m not coming back to Humboldt.  Its connection to sad memories is too strong.  I need to go somewhere that makes me look up at the sky and smile.

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Siena and San Gimignano

In a spur of the moment trip, Erica, Nicole, Sylvia and Natalie and I went on a Bus2Alps day trip to Siena and San Gimignano.  I had wanted to go to Siena over the summer–ten days before I got to Italy, Il Palio was held in Piazza del Campo.  The Palio is a huge bareback horse race dating from the Middle Ages.  It is run twice every summer, once in July and once in August.  Ten of the city’s 17 contrade, or districts, compete (the contrade are rotated every year). Each contrada hangs a flag with its colors and symbol, usually an animal.  The seventeen contrade are Aquila (Eagle), Bruco (Caterpillar), Chiocciola (Snail), Civetta (Owl), Drago (Dragon), Giraffa (Giraffe), Istrice (Porcupine), Leocorno (Unicorn), Lupa (She-Wolf), Nicchio (Shell), Oca (Goose), Onda (Wave), Pantera (Panther), Selva (Forest), Tartuca (Turtle), Torre (Tower), and Valdimontone (Ram).   The winner of the race wins the palio, which is a painted silk banner, as well as fame within the city.  Emotions are high prior to the Palio.  Even the horses must have protection, because there have been occasions when the horse favored to win, or a horse from a rival contrada, has been drugged, or even stolen.  There are feasts and celebrations, and the horses are treated like royalty.  In the end, it all comes down to the horse.  There are a couple of turns in Piazza del Campo that a pretty dangerous.  Horses and riders go down hard.  It doesn’t matter if the rider makes it across the finish line–whichever contrada‘s horse gets there first wins.

Palio flags:

Palio flags

Okay, so enough about the Palio.  We met our Bus2Alps group at the train station, and took a bus about an hour out to Siena.  We stopped at a parking lot for tour busses outside of the city, and we walked to this lookout where you could see the whole city.  The skyline is dominated by the Duomo, which is unique not only because the dome is blue but because it is in the middle rather than at the end of the cathedral.

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Then we walked over to Basilica di San Domenico, where we found something amazing!  I don’t remember much about the church, just what we saw in it.

There was a head.  St. Catherine’s head.  I don’t know much about it.  I read that she experience at lot of visions of Christ and received her stigmata in this church, in the Cappella delle Volte.  I’m not really sure why they only have her head though…

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That’s literally the creepiest thing I’ve ever posted.

So then we got a walking tour around Siena.  I would love to spend some time in that city, if only to be able to find my way around.  The streets wind all over the place.  We walked up to the Piazza del Duomo.  We didn’t have enough time to stand in line to get at ticket and go inside, but I looked at pictures on the brochure, and I really wish I had been able to go inside.  The interior of the Siena Duomo is black and white marble, which is pretty unique among Gothic churches in Europe.  The outside had the most intricate masonry I had ever seen–the marble was like milk, and there was also pink marble in the entrance archways.

Siena Duomo

We waited in the Piazza de Campo, where the Palio is held, and walked around the courtyard inside the Palazzo Pubblico, which is the Gothic-era town hall that was finished in 1342.  We also watched pigeons playing and drinking water in the Fonte Gaia in the piazza.

After the rest of our group showed up, we went to Tenuta Torciano for wine tasting.  The tasting room was beautiful, and had a bunch of tables set up for our group.  The walls were gold and there was a table with several bottles of wine on it.  There were two glasses of wine in front of each spot, one for white and one for red.  The white wine was Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the first red was Chianti, which was my favorite.  Our first plate of food was salad, prosciutto and some kind of cheese.  Second was gnocchi, and last was lasagna.  The man in charge of the tasting was so passionate about wine, and he called all the girls principessa.  The other red wines that we tried were Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Cavaliere and Bartolomeo.  They got drier as we moved up the list.  We also got to smell truffle oil, which was put by my nose when I wasn’t looking, so I turned towards it and yelled “What?!” when I saw it there.  There was a bucket in the middle of the table where we could pour the wine when we were done tasting it.

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After the wine tasting we all got to go out to the garden, where there was a willow tree and a little arbor with a bench under it.  Nicole was a little tipsy and said she wanted to bring the pomegranate tree home with her but she couldn’t.  After a few minutes of consideration, she turned me and said, “I’ll put a ring on it.”

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time in San Gimignano.  It is best known for having 14 of the original 76 medieval towers still standing throughout the town.  The towers served as both fortresses and watchtowers as well as symbols of their owners’ wealth.

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There were tiny streets–more like alleys, and no cars.  We walked up the street from the main entrance to the town and into the Piazza della Cisterna, named for the well in the center.  There, two tiny shops sold “the best gelato in the world.”  (Sorry, but the stuff in the Oltrarno was better.)  We got gelato and walked around the edges of the town to see the views from the top of the hills.  San G has amazing views of Tuscany.

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There were also, inexplicably, these guys all over the place:

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The Cooking Class and Fashion’s Night Out

On September 18, CEA held a cooking class at In Tavola, which is like a super nice place that offers cooking classes in Firenze.  Emily, Brie, Nicole, Erica and I walked around the Oltrarno for a while looking for the place, because it was hidden on a tiny street that looked more like an alley.  This was not an uncommon occurrence in Europe.

There were only about 20 of us in this class (the whole school could sign up for different days over a week).  We were split into four groups.  Emily and I were in one of the vegetarian groups.  We started with our antipasto, or appetizer, which was caprese di melanzane, or eggplant caprese.  We grilled the eggplant slices and put it on a tomato slice.  Then we put a slice of mozzarella over that and sprinkled basil over it.

Next, we made pasta dough.  You start with a mound of flour, and make it like a volcano, with a crater in the middle.  You break two eggs in the middle and mix it gently together until it’s doughy.  Then you make it into a ball and wrap it in saran wrap for about 30 minutes.

While we were waiting for the dough to do whatever (I honestly don’t know), we made the sauce.  My little cookbook calls it Fresh Mediterranean sauce.  It was garlic, tomatoes, capers, parsley and olive oil in it.  We mixed all that together and let it cook.

Then, still waiting for the dough to be ready, we made tiramisu.  First we had to mix mascarpone with sugar and egg yolk, then egg whites.  Then we had a coffee and brandy mixture that we dipped Savoiardi cookies into.  We made alternating layers of the mascarpone and cookies and sprinkled the top with cocoa powder.

Finally the dough was ready.  Our teacher showed us how to set up the pasta maker and how to cut the dough.  First you cut off a little part of the ball of dough and roll it flat (we actually used those old wooden rolling pins).  You have to run the dough through the machine at different settings, or thicknesses, for different kinds of pastas.  We just make regular spaghetti.  Then we threw it in a pot of boiling water and let it cook for about two or three minutes, not long at all, and then it was ready!

We took our pasta through a storage room and out into a courtyard, then down into a basement that was really a big dining room.  The people from In Tavola had set up our eggplant caprese and tiramisu.  We all got seats and were served the food we had just made.  It was delicious!  Homemade pasta is SO much better than store-bought pasta.  Homemade everything is just better.

We were already talking about walking around town when we noticed that there were a lot more people out than usual.  Then we remembered–September 18 was Fashion’s Night Out!  This is a night when all the designer stores are open, usually serving drinks.  It was started by Vogues Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour in 2009 for try to jumpstart the economy after the collapse in 2007-08.  There are Fashion Nights in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, among 25 other US cities and 15 countries worldwide.  2012 was the first Fashion Night Out in Firenze.

We split up to get dressed up (which for me meant without food on my clothes), and met again on via Tournabuoni, which is the fashion center of Firenze, and only a block over from my apartment.  There were places set up in the middle of the street where you could go get a free drink, and all the stores were open and giving out free drinks.  We went into the Ralph Lauren store first.  Via Tournabuoni is also home to such mega-names like Chanel, Bulgari, Valentino, Hermes, and Salvatore Ferragamo.  It’s not like it was really late, but the area around my apartment is usually closed down and quiet by dark, so it was exciting to see it lit up and alive.  In Piazza della Repubblica, a huge stage had been set up (we had seen this on the way to school, how had we forgotten?) and there were people performing.  There was a huge bar set up in the middle of the piazza.  I wanted to buy one of the Fashion Night Firenze T-shirts, especially since it was Firenze’s first year, but they were all sold out!  I got a postcard though.

Cinque Terre

In September, CEA took us all to the famous Cinque Terre.  We left Firenze at 7 AM on a bus to go to the train station in La Spezia.  A lot of people slept on the bus, but I stayed awake because I like to look out the window.  I got to see the sun come up over the Apennines (the mountain range that runs down the middle of Italy).  We passed Carrara, which is where the quarry is that Michelangelo went to go get marble for his sculptures.

In La Spezia we all got a special ticket that let us stay in and travel around the Cinque Terre area for the day.  We also got maps so we could take the trails between the five towns if we wanted.  Cinque Terre is Italian for ‘five lands’, and the five towns are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.  I took the train all the way to Monterosso and stayed there all day, mostly due to falling asleep on the beach.  Me and a couple other girls went into a little tourist shop, where I got a cool swimsuit coverup.  Then we went down to the beach and sat on our towels taking pictures.

the beach at Monterosso

Monterosso

Brie and Nicole showed up later (Emily was still exploring the other towns) and we went swimming.  The beaches are really cool.  The water is about ankle to knee deep for a while, and then suddenly drops off, which is why in pictures the water is always light blue and then dark blue.  I have this weird fear of water I can’t see the bottom of, basically anything that isn’t in a swimming pool, so I was standing on the edge and Brie and Nicole and this old Italian guy were all urging me to just jump in.  So I did.

Later, Emily showed up with some other people.  We only had about an hour before we had to be back at the La Spezia station, so Em, Brie, Nicole and I went and got gelato.

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By the way, this was the last day I had long hair.

Festa della Rificolona

One day Emily and I went dress shopping (we actually did that many days, but specifically this day) and I got this really pretty blue dress made mostly of lace.  Then we made plans to meet in Piazza della Repubblica that evening to go to the lantern festival.  I didn’t know what that was, but it sounded pretty, and also all I could think about was that scene in Tangled with all the lanterns. Oh.  Also earlier that day, Nicole and I had gone to a hair salon to get our hair cut.  We hadn’t made an appointment, so while we waited they served us green tea and we flipped through those hair magazines to decide what I wanted to do with my hair.  My hair was down to my hips and becoming unmanageable.  So this was the first time I had been out with my new haircut. Erica and I met Emily, Brie, Polly, Daniel, and Nicole at Piazza della Repubblica.  I was wearing my new dress and Emily hadn’t seen my hair so there was yelling and “Oh my gosh!” all around.

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We walked down to Piazza della Signoria, where a massive crowd had formed.  There were all kinds of lanterns.  I still don’t know if people make them or buy them.  We stood up on the Loggia to watch some kind of procession come out of the Palazzo Vecchio.  Still not sure what that was about.  Then we followed the crown back towards the Duomo.  We went around the Duomo and walked several blocks to Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.  While walking we figured out what was going on with the lanterns.  They are all filled with a little flame, and people walking hold them up on sticks.  The kids in the crowd are given blowguns, and they try to shoot the lanterns.  If they shoot it enough, the paper exterior collapses onto the flame, and the whole things catches on fire. When we got to Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, the people leading everyone gave a speech from the steps of Spedale degli Innocenti (in Italian, so I had no idea what was going on).  We just looked around.  There were several stands selling lanterns and food but none of us bought anything.  We watched several kids shoot some lanterns down. Side note: Spedale degli Innocenti opened in 1444 as the first orphanage in Europe, and part of the building is still used for that purpose.  There is still a rota, which is a rotating cylinder where mothers could place their unwanted children anonymously and ring a bell, so that the cylinder would turn and the child would be taken into the orphanage. I’ll now let my pictures from the festival speak for me.

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And alas, the death of a lantern:

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I guess you could call it school…

During the week I was in Firenze, walking around and going to class and working at La Tinaia, an art therapy center in the San Salvi neighborhood.  This was generally what my day looked like: 4-7 am wake up, depending on if I was going to Skype that morning.  I saw a lot of sunrises in Firenze.  Also, for the first two or three weeks, my room was so uncomfortable.  It was humid and hot, not to mention that I was sharing the room with someone else.  Because of jet lag, I would wake up around 3 and move to the tiny couch in the living room and open the window that was over the courtyard and the window that was over the street, which created a nice cross-breeze.  I would sleep in my underwear on the couch until about seven.  Then I would make myself tea in a little sauce pan.  We had an espresso maker and a couple fast-heating teapots, but they were covered with calcium on the inside because the water in Italy has a lot of calcium in it.  So that left the sauce pan, and we had about ten Christmas-themed mugs to choose from.  At 8:30 Rachel H. and I walked to Piazza della Repubblica and up into the building where our school was.  For a while we would leave early and get pastries at Gilli, but then we started just getting cereal at Conad.  The only way I can describe my cereal, called Fiocchi, which I thought meant cereal but now I’m not sure, is as an Italian Special K.  It had chocolate strips in it.  Our Italian class started at 9, and right before, I would dig up €2,50 for some hot chocolate from the amazing vending machine in the hall.

Our Italian professor’s name was Elisa.  She was so sweet!  And helpful.  There was always a planned lesson, but we would inevitably go off on some tangent or other, like about cursing or dialects or, like right before Thanksgiving, why Black Friday is so important in America.  The thing is, most language classes go through basic things that are pretty intuitive, in depth, so nothing useful is actually learned.  We only spent the first week on basic conjugations, and then Elisa taught us things to say in the markets, or at restaurants.  She took us to the Mercato Centrale, where fresh produce is sold.  Mercato Centrale is super interesting, there’s a huge section for produce, and another area for formaggio, or cheese, and and area for carne, or meat.  For class we had a scavenger hunt we had to complete in the market.

After Italian I would have a four hour break, which was when I would get a sandwich at I Due Fratellini and walk around the leather market by San Lorenzo.  There are tiny stores hidden in the buildings in that area, and I bought several dresses there, and when it got colder, a nice pair of boots.  I loved walking around the leather market.  The men there are pretty rude, they whistle and yell things, but I’m lucky enough to look Italian, so generally they left me alone.  The key is to not look lost.  If I didn’t walk around, and didn’t go home to take a nap, I would hang out in the student lounge, reading the Rick Steves’ Europe 2011 guide or the Bus2Alps brochure.  I quickly made plans for every weekend we had left.  Sometimes Grayson, our program’s director, would bring her dog Rudy to run around and play with us.

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On Monday afternoons I had photography.  That was such a great class.  We would usually walk around Firenze and take pictures.  Jacopo, our professor, took us to Stazione SMN to take pictures one day, and another day he took us to Cascine Park, which was quite an adventure.  We were all in the middle of taking pictures when it began to rain really hard, and then a full blown thunderstorm started right on top of us.  The thunder sounded like explosions.

Some photos from Cascine park:

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On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I had a sociology class called Living Italy.  We talked about the Slow Food movement, the importance of the different regions in Italian society, women’s issues, religion, the Mafia (which is real, by the way), politics, education, immigration and gypsies, Italian fashion, and sports.  I loved Professor Traxler.  I thought he was really funny, probably because we both have the same sarcastic sense of humor.

On Wednesdays Emily and I had an art history class called The Great Masters.  This class was actually not that great, but we did visit a lot of churches and get histories about the frescoes in the chapels, and we went to the Palazzo Vecchio to see the Hall of 500 where Leonardo’s lost fresco is.  The best day was when we went to the Uffizi.  So there’s a bit of backstory about the experience I had at the Uffizi.  In high school I took a class called Art in Society, and because our teacher was the French teacher, we studied a lot of French Impressionism and literature, namely In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.  At the beginning of Swann’s Way, the first Proust book, he mentions Giotto’s Madonna and Child.  Madame made us go home and look it up, and it was kind of like, whatever, that’s cool.  I mean, it’s an interesting painting because it sort of ushered in the Renaissance, being one of the first paintings to really use linear perspective.  Anyways, Giotto left my mind for a while.  In the meantime, I took Art in Society for a second year (not on purpose, I just didn’t want to take Trig and our counselors were kind of idiots).  This was the last year that our school offered Art in Society, and I have a whole lot I could say about that but I’ll stop there.  Needless to say, it was very emotional for our class.  Fast-forward three or four years, and I’m walking up the stairs to the Uffizi Gallery thinking how cool it will be to see this painting that I had learned about so long ago in what ended up being a really important class to me.  I was not expecting to burst into tears when I walked into the room and saw it.  Emily thought I was having an art overload.  Which is kind of true.  But mostly, I was really missing my Art in Society class.

On Wednesday afternoons between classes, I took the bus over to San Salvi to work at La Tinaia.  I loved riding the bus.  At first it was kind of scary, but then it became my time to decompress and look at the city.  The bus takes you to these places you wouldn’t see as a tourist.  My stop, Alberti, was near the futbol stadium, and I would walk around the corner and go in a tunnel under the autostrada (freeway).  Then I walked further past some apartments, and then enter San Salvi.  It was like walking through a portal to this slightly abandoned, forgotten neighborhood.  There were palazzi on one side of the road, and a grassy area next to the wall blocking the train tracks on the other.  There was a trail through the grass, and there were always little birds flying around.  One of the palazzi is a primary school now.  I always walked by at recess, and I loved pausing my iPod and listening to the kids play and scream.  They were usually playing soccer or tag.

La Tinaia is in a yellow building at the end of the street.  It used to be a mental hospital, but in February 1975 (if I’m reading the translation correctly, so who really knows, but I think that’s right) they turned it into an art therapy center for people with developmental or mental disabilities.  I met one man there, and I don’t remember his name, but he said hello to me every week and asked me how I was.  He spoke really good English too.  Maika and Rossella were the women who showed me what to do.  Most of the time I worked in a tiny room with no windows.  I put the archive number in the computer and selected which materials the artist had used.  Then I took a picture of the piece with a digital camera that automatically uploaded the file onto the computer.  For the record, I archived a lot of Umberto Ammannati’s work.  I mean three folders of it.  That’s like a hundred fifty pieces.  The work in this place was amazing.  There were a lot of portraits, self and of others.  There was one artist who drew only women in lingerie and rockets.  I always wondered what these people had been through, and what was going through their mind when they were working.

For the last few weeks I got moved into the studio, which was a huge open room that smelled like paint.  There are huge easels everywhere and tables and unfinished work on the tables and easels.  Maika set me up at a table by one of the windows and showed me how to create the archive number (the number the piece is in the stack and the year it was made).  Then I had to write it down in a notebook.  That’s what I did for three hours a week, and it was great!  They played an English radio station that had the Beatles and Taylor Swift on it.  I have to say it–working at La Tinaia is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

So that’s generally what my week looked like in Firenze.  On Thursday night or Friday morning, I would pack up and leave for whatever adventure I had that weekend.

I’ll leave you with a picture of a street sign I found while walking in the Oltrarno neighborhood.  There a lot of weird signs like this.

Jesus sign

Arezzo

Our second weekend in Italy, Emily, Nicole, Polly, Erica, Daniel and I went on our first solo trip out of the city.  By that time, I had realized there are no trees in the city center (except in Piazza Santo Spirito, which is a little out of the way), and this is kind of a big deal because I grew up in South Pasadena, where trees dominate the skyline, and go to school in Humboldt, which is famous for trees (and weed but we don’t talk about that).

Anyways, I got a text either the night before or early that morning from Emily saying they were going Arezzo and did Erica and I want to go?  We all packed lunch for ourselves–Erica and I had a ton of plums because we had gone to the fresh market after class that week and the lady whose produce we were looking at gave us a bunch of free plums even after we had bought like two bags of them.  So we stuck everything in our backpacks and walked to the bakery near Emily’s apartment that sells pastries for super cheap, and then walked to the train station to buy our tickets.  Stazione Santa Maria Novella was built in the Functionalist style in the 40s when the Fascist party was rising to power in Italy.  It’s all straight lines and block lettering, very austere looking.  At first it seemed intimidating and I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing, but I came to love that place.  I included it on my walks around the city, partly for people watching but also because of the shopping mall beneath the streets outside of the station.

It was here that I had my first experience with gypsies.  I saw these people everywhere, and occasionally they would come up to me with a cup and ask for change.  I always managed to say I didn’t have any change, but this woman ambushed me while I was counting my euro coins.  So I gave her twenty cents and turned back to the ticket machine.  She then pushed me and started rambling in Italian.  Emily and I both started yelling until she went away.  I didn’t even feel bad about it.  We conveniently learned how to say Fuck Off in Italian the next week.

When we got to Arezzo, we first walked to the visitor’s center around the corner from the train station.  We got a couple maps and started up the street to the old Roman amphitheater.  We couldn’t go inside but it was cool to look at.

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Walking through the streets up the hill towards Piazza Agostino, I was struck by how un-touristy Arezzo was.  There were no gypsies, no street vendors crowding the streets, which were narrow and winding.  The quiet was broken only by the six of us talking about how magical it was.  We finally made it up the hill to Piazza Agostino, where we rested and took pictures.  I really wanted to lie down in the shade because it was so hot.  Or maybe sit in the fountain.

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We walked further up the hill through Piazza Grande, to a park at the top of the hill where we ran around and had our lunch.  There were huge stone walls where a Medici fort used to be, and we sat on the walls with an amazing view of the Tuscan countryside.

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We pretended to be gargoyles on the wall (a picture I’m sure I would not be permitted to share) and walked further to an area that had good climbing trees.  It was really nice to sit in the shade and drink water and listen to kids playing in the parkThe park was so nice, it was the most green I had seen since I’d come to Italy.  We climbed up on one of the low hanging branches and Daniel took a picture of us girls.

the tree

Then we walked over to Arezzo’s Duomo at the other end of the park that was closed, but had a simple Gothic façade and Latin carved into the doorframe.  It was hot there, really hot and unbearably humid, so we kept walking until we got to the top of the hill to San Domenico.

San Domenico

inside San Domenico

San Domenico, founded in 1215 and completed in the 14th century, is home to a Crucifix by the pre-Renaissance artist Cimabue.  From the outside the church looks like it was never actually finished, and maybe it wasn’t.  It is so beautiful on the inside though.  The walls have frescoes on them and there are arched windows with green and white marble stripes.  While most churches in Italy have arched ceilings, San Domenico has a wooden ceiling that is a little arched, but also has flat beams, which is pretty unique in churches.  It was so peaceful there.  We all sat in the second row of pews and looked up at Cimabue’s cross.  It’s times like this that you realize how old Europe is, and what a baby the US is in countryhood.  This piece was made in 1268, 224 years before Columbus had even reached the New World.  We’re babies, you guys.

Cimabue's Crucifix

After we left San Domenico, we walked down to Piazza Grande and looked for more food.  No one wanted to eat at one of the restaurants because of the coperto, the cover charge that is usually used at restaurants on unsuspecting tourists.  Of course the coperto is only €1,50, but we didn’t know that then.  The piazza was huge and empty, with shields displaying the emblem of various guilds in Arezzo.

Piazza Grande

I fell asleep on the steps of a well that was on the far side of the piazza while Emily and a couple other people walked up to a lookout point or something.  When they came back, we walked around the town more–we had gotten up pretty early so we were kind of tired.  Basilica di San Francesco was closed, but the doors were glass–what?–so we got to peek inside.  Then we found an amazing little market that sold a bunch of pasta stuff–sauces, dried pasta, onions.  It was like walking back in time.

On our way back to the train station we went to a little gelato shop that was unanimously agreed to be a tourist trap but good nonetheless.  We sat in the square in front of the train station, eating gelato, enjoying the last moments of our first trip outside Firenze on our own.

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