The day before my birthday, Saturday, we went with Michelangelo and Rossella to the antique market in Arezzo. This market is held the first Sunday of the month and the preceding Saturday. Odd way of saying it, but it’s not the first weekend of the month. Think about it. It’s very well-known throughout Italy and people from all over come to it. It covers most of the town and is a treasure trove of Italian antiques and tchotchkes. Rossella’s sister, Mariella, and her husband, Mario, met us there. I love going to this market and have been several times. However, nothing prepared me for going with Italians.
When I go to places like this with Steve, he can be done in about 15 minutes. I linger back, taking my time, but still mindful that he’s somewhere up ahead tapping his foot. So I’m used to the express version of shopping. Rossella and Mariella, however, take shopping to a new level. I’m not sure there was one piece of silver, one vase, one painting that they didn’t touch and discuss. Their husbands were completely oblivious to them and their pace. Every now and then we would get separated from them and Michelangelo would call Rossella for an update on their location. Then we’d hook back up, only to separate again. A couple of times, they even separated from each other. Thank goodness for cell phones. I was somewhere in between the two paces. Not blowing through like the guys, but not moving like a snail like the women. But since I was an island alone and my cell phone won’t work without wi-fi, I couldn’t get separated from one of the packs. And I had Millie, who I was constantly having to protect from getting stepped on or eating something off the ground.
We moved through part of the market in the morning, then went to lunch. We had lunch at a convent and on market weekends they serve a fixed menu. We sat outside on this gorgeous portico and had pappa pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), lasagne, roasted pork and potatoes and white chocolate mousse for dessert. And biscotti and vin santo after all that.
It was a great lunch and great to sit down and relax after all that walking and shopping. Lots of food and it was quite good. Something we’ve noticed about Italians is their approach to meals. It’s no secret that they love good food and love to eat. What is fascinating to me is how robustly they eat. Even the women. We’ll be served and they immediately dig in after the obligatory “Buon appetito!”. Before I’ve even decided if I like it or not, they’re done. I’m a pretty fast eater, but I’m no match for these folks. I have to hustle to keep up and I wonder about my friends who are slow eaters (I’m thinking of you, Julie) and how they could possibly manage to stay in the game. They also clean their plates. Nothing is left and what sauce may be lingering on the plate is promptly sopped up with bread. I love this. I love that food is approached with intention and is savored to the last morsel. There is no waste here – a sea of clean plates is what you see after any meal. If you don’t eat every scrap, they think something is wrong with the food. Here it’s not lady-like to have an appetite like a bird. That’s where I fit right in.
After lunch, we walked and shopped some more. I love Italians. They are a group of people who really do love life. As we
strolled along, they would stop and have a discussion. All of them. Not just our group. Along with the masses gathered at the booths and tables, there were clumps of people just stopped to talk. Then they move along again. At about 4:00, we were all about done. It was hot and sunny and since it had been cool and rainy when we left Anghiari that morning, I didn’t bring my sunglasses. I was getting a nice little headache from the sun and heat. We stopped in a shady spot for some water in the big park at the top of town and Mariella even had a collapsible dog bowl in her bag that Millie used. Again we rested, refreshed and recharged.
On the way back to the car, we stopped in the duomo. What a gorgeous church.
A wonderful day spent with great people. We all bought a little something and were all happy with our purchases. Arezzo is a beautiful and very historic town that we really need to explore more. But for this day, it was all about antiquing with Italians and learning just a little more about these fascinating people and their approach to life.