Friday morning, and I was on the train to Arezzo, Tuscany. My stop there was timed for the largest antique fair in the country, which occurs on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. I arrived around noon and, after checking in at the modest but perfectly-located hotel, I went out to explore the town before the antique vendors moved in and set up their wares.
Some of the sellers with larger items were already beginning to set up their spots in the Piazza Grande. Arezzo is a very old town that was an Etruscan settlement before the rise of the Roman empire. During the middle ages, the Medici left their mark, as they did in all this region of Italy. There is a large fortress from the time of Cosimo Medici on the highest point in the town, with a nice park between that and the largest Cathedral. All the large churches in the Centro Storico part of Arezzo are nice, but not overly ornate. They were all open and, surprisingly, none was under renovation.
Italy has so many historical, ancient, and landmark buildings that preservation and restoration projects are a booming business. A town with no restoration projects going on would be a first for me. I don’t think I have ever been in a historical location without a couple of the landmark buildings being covered by scaffolding draped with fabric to retain the dust and debris.
I found the food in Arezzo, as in Rome, to be a very good value. Even the food that is mediocre here is substantially better than one might find back in Washington, without knowing where to go. Here it seems, you can pop into almost any place that’s open and get a pretty good meal, and usually at a very good value-to-dollar (or euro).
After a breakfast at the hotel consisting mostly of cakes and coffee, I lit out with my camera to explore the antique fair and look at the rest of the town. I was very surprised at the number of vendors, and the number of people shopping the antiques.
I spent the better part of the day exploring and looking at all the curious things. It turned out to be a very interesting visit. Nearly the whole of the central historical part of Arezzo’s narrow medieval streets were lined with canopies and tables. The vendors with the big-ticket items, (wardrobes, chests, tables, beds, and various other furniture items), were set up in the Piazza Grande.
I successfully resisted the temptation to spend any money for things I would just have to figure out how to get home. Besides, when I left home I had made the decision that I needed to start slowly down-sizing on my accumulation of household furnishings and material goods. Buying an antique would be the antithesis of my newly-determined objective.