There’s a little town about 10 minutes from here called Le Ville. It’s really just a spot in the road on the way to Arezzo. We’ve been through it dozens of times and nothing has ever made us want to stop and look around. We found out that they have one of the best presepe (nativity scenes) in the area.
Presepe are big here. You see signs for them in most towns. Some are with real people, some are just scenes. All are a representation of the birth of Christ. Everyone kept talking about the one in Le Ville, so we had to check it out.
First of all, it’s only open for 5 nights and it doesn’t open until 5:15. So we got there at about 5:25. It was packed with people. We waited in line for about 40 minutes – Steve’s favorite thing in the whole world to do. It was cold and my pants were wet – the window in the car wasn’t closed all the way and the rain blew in the night before. I just thought the seat was cold until I got out of the car and my pants were sticking to me. We debated just punting the whole thing. But we were there and thought we’d give it shot and see what all the fuss was about. So we waited for 40 miserable minutes until we finally got in.
Le Ville, the spot in the road little town, transforms the entire village into Bethlehem for this presepe. They have it all – the money changers, the Romans, the artisans, the beggars, the lepers, the magi, and, of course, the manger scene – you name it, they have it represented. And it’s not just represented – it’s enacted. It’s like you’re strolling through Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Christ. It was so cool and we were so glad we waited in the line for 40 minutes, then took 40 more minutes to walk through everything, in the freezing cold, with wet pants. As with so many things before, we agreed it was worth it. It was an experience – the entire town was lit with candles. In fact, that was the only light. It was almost impossible to take pictures because of the low light (with my smartphone, anyway). But it was magical, if a little dangerous. We both thought how this would be so great to do in the U.S., but it would have to be handicap accessible (this was certainly not), lit so that you could actually see where you were walking (this was not), and not for free (this was).
I want to go back to Le Ville in the daytime so we can see how this is all layed out. It meandered through town and much of it was built specifically for this. It also went on the bank on the outskirts of town. I couldn’t get a picture of this, but at one point we looked down the bank and saw hundreds of candles twinkling on the other side. It was truly magnificent. They put a lot of effort into making this. It’s not like they just put a few tents up – they built things – bulidings, rivers, lakes, North Africa. As I read over this, I realize that this sound a little cheesy, but it wasn’t. It was really enjoyable.
When we got back, we went down to the piazza for a pizza. Afterward, we walked over to the Rondo – a passageway underneath the old watch tower – where they were having a concert. We were a little early for the concert, but walked around and found out that Rossano, the guy who owns the sports bar, was putting on the concert. Rossano throws great parties. He did the pig roast last weekend, the jazz concert a couple of months ago, and by the looks of things on January 1, a great New Year’s Eve party at the sports bar. Many other street parties and concerts that he’s had since we’ve been here. He gave us a glass of Prosecco and told us that the concert would start at 10:00. What kind of music, we asked – funky, he said. Not sure what that meant. Anyway, the Rondo is a great place for a party.
The watch tower is a prominent feature of the Anghiari skyline. It’s a great rounded building that is on the outside of town, along the old city wall. It has a walkway underneath it that connects the two sides of the wall. It’s a great place to walk and a great place for teenagers to congregate, judging by the looks of things every time we walk through. There are places to sit inside and there’s always classical music playing. It’s really a very special place. Well, this night there wasn’t any classical music, there was funky music.
A little after 10:00 we went back. The band was playing Balkan rock music, which is apparently very popular in Italy. We saw several friends and the Australians we met at Rossano’s last party, the pig roast. One of them put together a video from the pig roast, if you’d like to have a look:
The party in the rondo was like so many things we’ve happened upon here. Seemingly spontaneous (I know they’re not – they’re very well planned) events that bring people together in quirky places around the city. Always with drink, usually with food and music. And always great fun. We saw some of our friends the next day and they said the party lasted until 3:00 am when some nearby residents called the police because of the noise. We were long tucked away in our beds by then and were far enough away from the Rondo that we didn’t hear a thing.
Another day in Italy – an Italian village turned into Bethlehem and a Balkan rock concert in a medieval tower.