We left our friends Bruno and Elena in Preggio and headed onwards across the green hills. On the way, we were excited to spot clusters of poppies growing on the side of the road. As we passed alongside one hill-top town, we were waved down a different road by a police officer — the later appearance of some guys in racing jumpsuits leads us to assume it was due to a rally in the town.
Our unexpected detour resulted in some excitement as we were waved by another officer right into the town’s narrow, pedestrian-filled streets. We cruised slowly down a main street lined with cafés and boutiques; shoppers threw us surprised/bemused looks as we drove along, close enough to do some window shopping, maybe grab a cappuccino.
Things got a little tight as we drove through the piazza and down another little street past parked cars — this guy’s expression was classic:
Apart from some harmless scraping of our driver’s side step on a step as we passed, we escaped unscathed and drove on into the town of Arezzo. We found ourselves a sosta to stay in, and walked up the steps into the town via a park overlooking the surrounding countryside. We were in Arezzo primarily to visit the Duomo (partly to exercise our new-found HDR tools!), so that was our first stop, right beside the park.
It was an imposing old building, looming over the square, and its interior was lovely, and immense. We took lots of photos, Katherine’s shoulder acting as a tripod because it was so dark inside.
We ventured outside again and walked through the town’s little, steep cobbled streets. We were reminded by a sign that this was the town in which a lot of one of our favourite films, La Vita e Bella, was filmed — I can’t say I recognised anything in particular though.
We came across some stalls selling salami, cheese, and a variety of herbs and spices. It turns out we managed to stumble upon a food festival, and found lots of stalls dotted around the town, each with a different theme – here, meat and cheese, there gelato and chocolate, and in the main piazza more salami, bread, and a couple of makeshift restaurants. We mused afterwards on the homogeneity of the food and had it been a food festival in Australia there would have been Middle Eastern cuisine, Indian, African, European, Asian and of course the more traditional mother-land type fare.
So, we got ourselves some gelati (Katherine picked well with a strawberry and white chocolate blend and cinnamon chocolate), took them back to the park and sat on the grass in the sun watching the world go by as the cathedral bells rang. We laughed at a toddler who had already mastered the Italian tradition of wild hand-gestures while talking.
We stayed the night in Arezzo, and prepared to head off the next morning. Stopping at a service station to check the tyre pressures, I realised that the front-right tyre valve was leaking air, hissing wildly when I gently pushed the valve to one side. Uh-oh! The service station had a garage, so I poked my head around the corner and stuttered out in Italian that I had a problem with the tyre. The guy apologetically said they couldn’t help, but directed us around the corner to a tyre specialist. Miraculously, I actually understood the directions and could find the place he was referring to in Google Maps, but the guy there couldn’t help us either. He pointed us onwards to another garage, pointing it out to me on my iPhone’s map. We found the place, and I looked up and stumbled through an Italian translation of our problem. A helpful and very friendly mechanic from Bangladesh waved us in, jacked up Nettle, whipped off her tyre and replaced the valve within about five minutes, and five Euros later, cheerfully waved us onwards.