Saturday, March 27, 2010

Arezzo, All by Myself

What do to on a Friday when you wake up to an overcast Florence? Go to another Tuscan town where the sun is in abundance. So for me, it was Arezzo or bust!

I actually had no previous plans to go to Arezzo, mostly because I had never heard a lot about it and no particular yen to see it. I figured it's "just another classic Tuscan town." And it was. Which is exactly why I'm so glad I went.

The idea was put in my head when I talked to a woman my mom knows who studied in Arezzo for 3 spring semesters - 3!! I'm SO jealous! So, I power-walked my way to the train station, bought me a ticket and hopped on. I have yet to master timing my travels well, I have yet to make the walk to the train station leisurely and relaxed. Oh well, keeps my calves in excellent shape!

I got off the train and walked out into blue skies and sunshine...and had no idea where I was going. It's a really fun feeling though, to know that I could go in whichever direction the wind took me and it wasn't the "wrong way." Luckily my intuition came through, and I had a great day!
First impressions of Arezzo:
Funky trees. Always a good sign.
That would be a chocolate Easter egg (tradition here). In case you can't tell that this is the size of a large baby and the 240 euro price tag doesn't register, I zoomed out:
See those white eggs in the basket? Those are regular eggs. Now look at that yellow-bowed beast. 
Any town that takes its seasonal chocolate this seriously has my unshakable approval.

Lunch was my first order of business. I had to decide whether I wanted a restaurant-type place, or a simple sandwich. When traveling alone, this is an important question - especially in Italy, where eating meals with others is heavily emphasized. I ultimately decided on a sandwich, mostly because I wanted to wander around outside and enjoy the spring weather. After much wandering, I decided on a little hole-in-the-wall place crowded with Italian kids my age and some locals. They sold "piadine", which are a classic sandwich from the Emilia-Romagna region(where Rome is). It's basically a warm, soft but crispy pita-like bread filled with whatever your heart desires!
I went for arugula + mushrooms + parmeggiano. I did not regret that.
It was salty and crunchy and greasy and amazing. The parmeggiano-arugula combo is to live for - a little bitter, a little salty, a lot yum! I did a little more research into piadinas and they are traditionally made with just flour, lard, and water, dressed with a little olive oil. Horrible nutritionally, but I really do not care. SO tasty!

 I wandered some more, right into the piazza grande:

HUGE open piazza!
Nature called and I did a baaad thing - went into a cafe that I saw had a bathroom and when I came out, I pretended my phone rang so I didn't have to buy anything. Ssssh.

I hit the jackpot when I stumbled upon a gorgeous park! Exactly what I wanted. Even Frida the camera had fun.

Turns out there is a the valley on the other side...

See the red VW bug? Love it.

Pigeons! They like stone walls...a lot.

Nature's hammock.

Bell tower to Arezzo's Duomo!

After a long, peaceful moment on a bench, I continued exploring...
And what did I stumble upon but....a Roman ampitheatre! Imagine, in Italy of all places!

No matter how many I've seen, they are always so cool. It's just amazing to me to literally step into a different time period.

Too cute. I only felt a little creepy taking this picture.

I spent a long time walking around, window shopping and sitting on a step in the piazza grande before I decided to head home before dark. If I didn't already love this town, I'm pretty sure this sealed the deal:
A chocolate shop with 32 different flavors of chocolate. I didn't go in, because I wasn't entirely sure I would ever get out!
A rainbow of Lindt truffles. Why can't this kind of rainbow appear after it rains???

Good food, lovely weather, gorgeous views, and no obligations. The perfect solo vacation day.

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