We planned a lot of trips and sightseeing for Myra, but we also wanted to have some time just to stay around Anghiari. It’s a small town, but there are an incredible number of things to do here. There are several restaurants that we had to take her to, gelato that had to be eaten, shops to visit, and there was a festival one weekend. So our down time wasn’t very down, but at least we could run back home and rest up between activities.
Myra’s trip was planned for the perfect time. The weather was great – sometimes a little chilly, especially at night – but for the most part beautiful blue skies and plenty of sunshine. She also got to go to the monthly Arezzo antiques market. It’s known far and wide and Italians flock to it to buy gorgeous antique furniture and accessories for their homes. It’s huge – it’s spread out all over the town of Arezzo. It’s held the first weekend of the month and Myra and I went to it on Sunday. We had a great day, just us girls, looking at the antique furniture, the estate jewelry, the artwork, the vintage linens, and the junk. Myra bought a beautiful embroidered Tuscan pillowcase from the 19th century for a song. A great memento of her Italian holiday.
We got there in the morning and as luck would have it, finished looking around just in time for lunch. We consulted my handy Slow Foods app and found a great restaurant right off the main piazza, La Torre di Gnicche. It was a gorgeous day, but a little chilly so we both had soup. I had one of my favorites, pappa al pomodoro, and Myra had a lentil soup. They were great and just what we needed. We had a glass of Montepulciano wine and it was so good we bought a bottle to take home.
Anghiari has a celebration every year called “I Centogusti dell’Appennino” – the 100 tastes of the Appenines. Food and wine producers from the upper tiber valley come to showcase their products, give away samples, and sell them. Our normally sleepy little village was packed with people for the weekend. It was cold and windy that weekend, so we bundled up and went out, then came home and got warm and rested, then bundled up and went out again. It was great. Meats, cheeses, truffles, mushrooms, beer, wine, honey, jams – you name it. If you can consume it or use it, it was for sale here.
Ever since we arrived here, we’ve noticed that there are several doors to the ancient buildings that look like they’re never used. They’re locked up, dusty, no mailbox, no doorbell – nothing. We’ve always wondered what they are. Now we know. They’re storage areas or extra spaces that you can rent – they’re not finished, just stone walls and beamed ceilings. And for Centogusti many of them are opened up and used. Producers came and set up beautiful displays in these spaces and you could wander in and taste what they had and buy what you liked.
We bought meat, cheese, chocolate, beer and wine. We like to help out the local economy whenever we can. Myra even got some vacuum sealed to take home. She’ll love opening that up in a few weeks when she gets homesick for all things Italian.
The Centogusti was great and wonderful, but we also had restaurants to visit. We visited Ciccolino’s – the place where you never know what they’ll have – on Friday for lunch for the fried fish. Good, as always. We had to visit the pizzeria for some of the best pizza around. That was the only pizza Myra had in Italy. Kind of a shame. We had to have gelato, and I’m ashamed to say that we only had it about three times the entire time she was here. I’m blaming it on the chilly weather. And the porchetta – two weeks here and not one porchetta. For her last night in Anghiari, we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, La Nena. Lots of food in a short amount of time, but Myra, being the person of extraordinary taste that she is, rose to the occasion and made us proud. She left several strands of pasta on her plate, but dove right in and tasted everything we threw her way.
We were also invited to lunch with our friend/landlord, Giovanni and his family. His middle son, Livio, and his wife Anna, are expecting their first baby in January. Anna’s parents were visiting from Germany and we were asked to lunch with the whole family. We ate downstairs at the restaurant, Gran Duca, and it was outstanding. Not only was the food good, the company was delightful. Germans, Italians, Americans, young, old, and in between all gathered around the table. All spoke English (mercifully) and we had a great time learning about each others’ cultures and politics. And celebrating the upcoming birth of Francesca Sophie, the Italian-German that we hope to be able to meet before we leave here.
Myra’s time in Anghiari was short, but we hope meaningful. We love it here so much that we just assume everyone will see the same simple beauty in it that we do. Every morning we marvel at the view out over the valley – sometimes bright and sunny, sometimes shrouded in fog, but always breathtaking. We walk down the stone streets to the piazza and look at the medieval buildings, the ancient city walls, the arches, the gates to the city and think how much has happened here and that we’re now a part of it. We love history and feel that everyone who lives in a place has some impact on it. Even though our presence here will never be noteworthy, we’re honored to be part of the body of humanity that has spent time here. Places speak to us and this one speaks in a calm, comforting voice that assures us that despite the turbulence that has been witnessed here, it’s ultimately a place of beauty and bounty. We love sharing that with our friends and know that our love for this place is unique, but hope that they can sample it and hopefully, appreciate it.