Had time after breakfast for another quick lap of the town on the lookout for some bread. The town is sprucing itself up for a visit from the Pope on the 4th of July so lots of painting, scaffolding and closed roads which we think is getting on the nerves of many of the locals. One of the main thoroughfares was closed except for a narrow pedestrian access, and had a bunch of guys re laying the cobblestones. While we were watching i commented to an old guy next to me that it looked like hard work. He nodded and asked if I was American, and I noted something familiar in his accent. I said no, “I’m from Ourstraarlia” (Australia). He then told me he’d lived there for 20 years, “In Lilydale”. We had a chuckle and swapped stories for a bit. He’s been back in Italy for 35 years etc. etc.
Apparently Sulmona is the capital for ‘confetti’, which is Italian bonbonieri used for decorating wedding tables for guests to take home & is a symbol of fertility. It’s basically sugar coated almonds and made up to look like flowers and other decorative motifs.
A very scenic train ride through the mountains to Rome and stopped in Tirbutina station – had to wait 40 minutes for the train to Florence which would stop for us at Arezzo. I found a bench and sat down with our bags while the girls went off to check out a bookshop. Very interesting to sit at a big railway station and watch the goings on. There was room next to me for a person to sit and it was variously occupied by, a young lady who immediately started smoking so i made my displeasure obvious by turning my back to her, a couple indian guys (one sat on the end/armrest), a young student who read her notes for a bit, a young bloke who was busy checking through the contents of his bag till he found what he was after, a middle aged lady who was dressed up very nicely and became very occupied with her fingernail polish and began picking off bits where it was peeling, another young lady who was working nearby at the SKY booth (selling cable TV I suppose) and who managed to talk on her mobile for about 15 minutes (raising her voice and wildly gesticulating most of the time), an large elderly lady who got comfortable but moved fairly quickly when a nearby bench was vacated by a middle-aged couple who said goodbye to each other and went their separate ways. Behind me on a bench that backed onto mine, similar movements of people were going on. A young family with a couple of kids eating gelato, a couple who where very interested in other, two female back-packers taking a load off for a while, and a few others I didn’t notice. There was one bench occupied by a single person (who may have been homeless), who had filled the bench with lots of plastic bags, blankets, thick jacket etc. She just sat there, doing a little looking around but not really very interested in what was happening. Short, rotund, wearing a white T shirt a little overdue for a wash, navy track pants, white socks and blue canvas shoes, she peered at the world through glasses that seemed a little too thick. At one point she asked a young girl who had sat on the next bench, to mind her stuff while she went off and came back with a sandwich. I don’t think any one walking past had considered taking any of her things. In amongst her stuff she found a drink bottle that was wrapped up in some paper and bags. After having some, spent a long time and was very particular about wrapping it all up again. Bag within bag, and all needing to be tied up with a double knot and then finally wrapped up with newspaper. An interesting half an hour and I also managed to read a bit of my book before the girls came back with some gelato and we headed off for binari 10 for the train.
On our train to Arrezzo we met a guy in our section of the train who was reading a book on neurology. He’s an artist who makes traditional paper mache masks and was on his way home to Firenze. Great to have a natter about life, philosophy etc. Good fun trying to understand each other… He actually helped us out because we had to ring the accommodation place and the temporary help (Dana) couldn’t speak english and we needed to find out where to find the key.
We got out of the wrong side of the station at Arezzo, but that was OK because we found a good supermarket. Walked across to the old town and found our accommodation after picking up the key from Dana at the Bar San Libertino (when we leave we have to put the keys and the balance of 30 euors in the letter box). A small apartment with two rooms and a bathroom guess the kitchen was for when the regular owners were home). We were on the second floor on a corner with one window looking out over the street and the other over a piazza with a church in it! Had a picnic in our room and headed out for a wander. An amazing looking town. Beautiful belvedere looking our over the old city walls. Nice garden at the top of town behind the cathedral. There’s an escalator that takes you down to a huge car park outside the old city walls… The Piazza Grande is an open, sloping square (a lot like Sienna’s) where they have an annual jousting tournament (rather than a horse race) against ‘the Sarasan’ who is a dummy set up in the square and the ‘knights’ score points if they hit the target/shield or break their lance. The Saracen pivots when you hit his shield and he has a rope in his other arm that can swing round and hit the jouster who then loses points. It must be a hoot, with lots of pomp and pageantry as each of the four quarters/sections of the city are represented. Wandered back towards our lodgings and listened to a little live music in the Piazza San Francesco and then down to the Porto Libertino to see the Chimera statue which is a copy of an Etruscan bronze they found when digging at the wall/gate. A mortally wounded lion with a goat sticking out of its back, and with a snake for a tail (maybe a version of the St. George & the dragon myth?)…