Saturday, 30 June 2012
A day in Arezzo (where life is beautiful, but boiling)
I barely remember Roberto Benigni's 1997 film "Life is Beautiful" which was shot in the Tuscan city of Arezzo. But a day trip there on Friday made me think that life can be boiling as well as beautiful.
The heat was staggering -- over 40C -- so I spent much of the day dodging from church to church. Which I would have done anyway, of course! Arezzo has some rare beauty in its churches, such as the Romanesque Santa Maria della Pieve just above.
The church, dating from the 12th century, sits at the foot of the steeply sloping Piazza Grande, which is topped by the long, shady Vasari loggia. To one side of the piazza is the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, with its lovely clock tower.
One of my favourite sites is, of course, San Francesco with its remarkable fresco cycle, "The Legend of the True Cross" by the great Piero della Francesca (can you tell I'm a fan?) This was my third visit to see these frescoes which I never seem to tire of.
For the first time, I did take myself past the Duomo (which is wonderful) to the lovely little Gothic San Domenico with its asymmetrical exterior and wonderful wooden cross, one of three painted by Cimabue.This one dates from between 1260 and 1270 -- which I find amazing, in part because it looks so modern in many ways!
Cimabue, said to have taught Giotto, painted three such crosses, including one completed 20 years after this work and now hanging in Florence's Santa Croce.
Naturally, no amount of heat could dampen my appetite and I had a great lunch just around the corner from San Francesco, at Bacco & Arianna which is charming, stylish, and quite inexpensive. I was crushed that my favourite wild boar was not available, so I settled for a savoury pici with pesto di salvia (pasta with pesto made from sage.)
I did think the heat also justified a medium-sized gelato mid-afternoon and later, a whipped cold cappuccino.