I don’t go to work anymore, so Sundays have a different feeling for me now. Sunday used to be the day I got everything ready for the workweek. Making lunches to easily grab and go, cleaning house, making sure clothes were in order, gathering my thoughts about work – organizing for the coming week. Now Sunday is what it is was always meant to be – a day of rest and reflection. A day for slowing down and looking around, of counting your blessings and appreciating each one. And usually for us, it’s a day to take a little spin somewhere to see a new part of this wonderful world.
A Walk Through the Country
We started this Sunday by taking one of our favorite walks. Down along the old city walls and peeling off toward the cemetery. Once you pass the Porta San Angelo, the oldest entrance to Anghiari, you walk down the hill with the city to your back. The view is of olive groves and mountains. You pass a beekeeper’s hive, where the colorful boxes hint at the golden treasure inside. You pass a tiny settlement of stone houses, all leaning on each other as they have for hundreds of years. One is separate from the rest and served as a watch tower during medieval times to protect Anghiari from the southeast. Then the cemetery, a safe distance from town to try and contain disease, bordered by high walls and ringed with cypress trees. Then farmland. Tobacco fields mostly, which are now churned up in huge chunks making rivulets for the winter rain to penetrate the earth. Idyllic, and only a five minute walk from town.
Once you curl around to go back up the hill to Anghiari, you see it sitting there atop its ridge, nesting in its thick stones walls. Starting your day like this is a spiritual experience. Your mind tries to comprehend the thousands of people who have walked on this same earth over the centuries. It tries to take a quick inventory of historical events that this land has hosted. Sometimes it can’t do that so it just reminds you that you are one in a long line of visitors to this place. This place, which has endured horrors beyond your imagination, stands as a testament to the collective determination of mankind to survive. And your 21st century Sunday is waiting for you to make the most of it.
The Monthly Antique Market
On the second Sunday of every month, Anghiari hosts an antique market in the main piazza. On our way back home, we walked through it and picked up a couple of treasures. I love that these villages bring things to you, a throwback to times when people weren’t mobile and getting basic provisions was a major chore in daily life. Now it seems like a luxury. A whole warehouse of things spread out before me less than a minute from my doorstep.
Montone is in Umbria, just across the border from Tuscany. It’s a beautiful hill town and it’s been on my list to revisit ever since we got here in July. There are more famous and notable hill towns, but I like the ones that are sleepy and quiet with little or no tourist traffic. All of them are amazing to visit, but there’s something special to me about the ones like Montone that don’t have souvenir shops ringing the piazza.
A light rain started falling as we were driving to Montone. We left Anghiari in the sunshine, with clouds just beginning to gather. By the time we got to Montone, about 30 minutes away, the sky was dark and rain was sputtering. Since it wasn’t a downpour, we decided to stroll around, umbrellas at the ready. There’s nothing more beautiful than a clear, sunny day to walk around a hill town and take in the views from each alley. But the mist lends a quality that I love, kind of a mystery, to places.
We had the entire town to ourselves. I think there was one restaurant open and there was a lively soccer game going on in the field just outside the city walls. As we walked, we could hear the cheers and the drumbeat from the game echoing through the city. I’m sure that’s what an invading army must have sounded like centuries ago. But our instincts are not programmed to fear those sounds today so we walked in peace and security.
The views from Montone are fantastic. We will definitely go back when the weather is clearer to get the full effect of the endless vista. This contemplative view, with the light rain blurring the edges and muting the colors, was just what we needed for this Sunday. A Sunday of recognizing our place in this land and standing in awe at the riches of nature.