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.

Talking cranes

It’s a locally-known thing that the old industrial cranes on Bristol’s harbourside used to talk to each other. It started happening while the Industrial Museum was being transformed into the present day M Shed and many a passersby were entertained and informed about what the new museum would have inside.

A couple of years on and apparently the staff at M Shed still get asked whether the cranes are going to strike up a conversation again. As a result, one of the curators has set out to make it happen and I’m pleased to say that I’m one of the writers who has been tasked with putting together a new set of scripts for them!

I’ve been working on the final drafts and the plan is to get them up and running before the end of the year. I won’t reveal anything else yet, but instead here are a few pictures of a recent trip up in one of the cranes where we got to see things from their perspective.

(Update: I am now working on a new set of scripts especially for an upcoming exhibition at M Shed. See here for a new post all about it)

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