Part 4: Arezzo
James: On Tuesday, 11/13, we took a bus to Arezzo. It rained on the way to the bus, stopped while on the bus, and of course started pouring as soon as we got off. We took a city bus to the youth hostel, which is an enormous villa with a huge garden just outside of town. We got a nice room to ourselves for $30. This was the only hostel we stayed in that wasn't full. Arezzo is a small medieval town in eastern Tuscany, and we liked it immensely. For some reason, we just were in a bad funk in Siena, and only by leaving town could we shake it. Arezzo was perfect: small, little traffic, very friendly people, excellent sights, no tourists, and great food and best of all it didn't rain (at least not much). Arezzo is a walled city with an enormous fortress from the days of warring city-states. The fort was free, and is still in a pristine condition. It was set in a lovely city park, and we walked nearly alone through the entire compound, the ramparts, buildings, caverns, towers, etc. It was right out of The Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons. We also toured a Roman amphitheater and aquaduct, and some of the best churches of our whole trip.
Rachel: We especially liked the church of San Francesco, which was simple and unpretentious, but with a quiet beauty that the gaudy over-decorated duomos can't come close to. Excellent art and frescos inside as well by the Piero della Francesca. Unlike Florence and Siena, Arezzo was a charming town that really grew on us the more we stayed.
James: We also found the best gelato of our whole trip here (gelato is the real reason we came back to Italy: Imagine the greatest home-made ice cream you've ever had, and it will pale compared to gelato. It seems to be a cross between custard and ice cream, but there's nothing like it. It's my favorite dessert of all, hands down). Meanwhile, my razor had gotten dull and unusable by this time, so we stopped into to a little tiny barbershop on a side street to get a shave. Eros, the curator, was a classic little old Italian man, but he was super friendly with us, and we had a good time hanging out with him. He was very curious about my digital camera, and I showed him my photos on the display. He wanted to know how much it costs to buy one. Getting a shave in an old-fashioned barbershop is always a treat for me. We also met a few people walking around, Alfiera, a poet, and a cantankerous old man who we couldn't keep quiet (his friend kept telling him to "Shut Up.")