All roots lead upwards – part two

On our last full day, we turned our backs on Florence and took the train to Arezzo, a city less talked about yet promising an equally grand history with Etruscan roots dating back to early BC.

We were rather unimpressed, then, to find a bland urban centre spreading out from the station, made all the more worse by pouring rain. With no other options in sight save for shopping in the highstreet stores, we made a run for a cafe, trying to find one that would fit the five of us and a pushchair. Eventually, we came across a rather unusual but immaculately done out 60’s style joint where we immersed ourselves in pastries and cappuccinos.

Once the rain had eased, we continued away from the train station and soon noticed the environment beginning to change. Unlike many cities where the landmark sights are to be found in the centre, here only those willing to climb the vertiginous streets are rewarded with the true Arezzo. The higher we climbed, the older and more majestic the buildings became. One of the more famous was the Basilica di San Francesco, where the Legend of the True Cross fresco by Piero della Francesca resides. But there was a myriad of other churches and museums at almost every turn, each with their own story to tell. Even the library was a sight in itself, with a wall of carved faces and emblems facing the street.

At the very top of the hill was a cathedral with a working clock tower and nearby, the Piazza Grande, a square surrounded by churches and towers as well as a stunning arched promenade.

But it wasn’t only the architecture that was fascinating. The shops added to the fabric of the area, with many specialist retailers such as a ‘Particularia’ store housed in a building from 900AD, which was packed with curiousities and medieval tools. There were also cave-like delicatessens full of cheeses and Italian meats and wine-tasting grottoes barely large enough for two tables.

With limited trains to take us back, we left Arezzo earlier than we would have liked and opted to go for a last supper in the nearest town to our farmstay. Considering there was only one restaurant to choose from, the decision was straightforward. The place was a traditional trattoria in every sense; analogue TV playing dubbed films in the background, paper tablecloths and hefty pizzas. Not to mention a Tuscan twist of stag’s heads decorating the walls.

Old friends

Came down ‘ere about a fortnight ago, following the line of the river through town. Wasn’t having much luck until then, it was all shopping malls and traffic wardens. None of them wants you around, see. There was the occasional park and that, but they gets trouble up there in the night, so it wasn’t much use.
Anyways, I ‘eard about the dockyard from some swanky magazine, believe it or not. Found a copy lying on the street someplace and had a read of it in a quiet doorway. Said the place had managed to ‘retain its historic character’, which I took to mean, it hadn’t all been turned into flats and restaurants like every other blinkin’ place I’s come across.
So I followed the course of the water as best I could, and I see’s its already started; people spillin’ out to the water’s edge with cappuccinos and what ‘ave you. But there’s an old train line running through, with moss and spring flowers all mixing in. So, I started following the tracks as they curved downriver; like a highway of old it was, all crusty sleepers and rusted iron. Eventually led me ‘ere.
There’s not a lot around, but that’s what I like about it. You can always find yourself a proper little nook where no one’ll bother you. Feel like I got friends in the cracks, y’know, and the peeling paint. And that water’s always running, churning through them old gates as sure as times passin’. Makes me think, if it all goes to pot, I’ll just find myself a nice bit of driftwood and float on out of ‘ere.