Tuesday, November 17th
As reflected in this view from our room we woke up with very mixed feelings on our last full day in Italy. It’s been such a wonderful trip, on all levels, with today being full of promise too. But we are feeling a little heavy hearted knowing we have to leave this “dream” tomorrow. Knowing we’ll soon be home able to hug and kiss our kids and grand-kids is a real comfort though.
We stopped for a quick coffee and pastry at Tiffany’s. Our second time at this Sada Sat recommended place. It’s a busy business, but the friendly, expert, efficient counter people are a joy to watch. Starbucks could learn a lot…. See the blowup of Audrey Hepburn on the wall. Actually before “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“, tells you the owners are real fans.
We hoofed it up the hill to be sure to see the Piero della Francesca frescoes at the church of San Marco. Lots of sites and shops all over Italy are closed between 12:30 and 3:00, so you have to plan accordingly.
As you walk into the restored chapel at the back your breath gets taken away. The artistry of della Francesca has been admired from the time these frescoes were created to today. The frescoes were painted to convey the drama of the Legend of the True Cross to an audience that was illiterate, but knowledgeable about the actors and symbols in the story (surely the opposite of visitors today).
An amazing detail showing della Francesca’s skill. Look at the white horse leaping from the wall. Perspective most artists were incapable of at the time.
The entire church was covered with frescoes at one time, with just fragments remaining now. Fortunately they are still in the process of restoring. Here a restoration artist is painstakingly working on a triptych painting to go back on an opposite wall.
On up the hill to the town Duomo to see another della Francesca. Too late. It was closed for the mid-day break. But it looked like another, smaller church might be open, also with a della Robbia. So walked down the steep streets with tiny or no sidewalks, jumping out of the way of cars and motorcycles/scooters going way to fast for comfort.
The little church was extremely dark so we had to put a few Euros into a box that illuminated the relief for two minutes.
It was worth the “investment”. This church, Chiesa di Santa Maria in Gradi, was very early, destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, but still maintaining its original character.
Many of the beautiful buildings have interpretive plaques to provide historical information. We passed this one as we climbed back up to the Corso to a well known little place for made-to-order sandwiches and salads…and a delicious sweet bread filled with raisins and topped with walnuts and honey. For the record, Linda promised to try making it at home. Let’s hold her to it.
Picnic on the street. Sada Sat left us at this point to pick up Sada Sat Singh at the train station after his return from conducting a training session in Washington, DC. They returned to the Yoga Borgo.
In the meantime we made our way over to the Piazza Grande, surrounded by medieval towers and houses and structures from later centuries as well. We heard organ music coming from a large church backed up to the piazza. We walked in around the front and listened to the organist practicing his pieces. The wonderful sound was amplified by the stone structure; a very different space and sound from the usual concert hall.
Our next stop was the remains of a Roman amphitheater. It was starting to get late…and dark (a disadvantage at this time of year) so we headed back to the car in order to get to the final museum of our visit; the Burri collection in Citta di Castello…
…a beautiful city on a hill. On our way we decided to follow Google maps instead of Sada Sat’s directions (Google said it was shorter its way). Well, we didn’t realize the collection is housed at two locations. We wanted to go to the tobacco factory, but ended up, through lots of traffic and parking issues at the palazzo in town. A helpful attendant set us straight and we arrived where we wanted to be with just an hour before closing. It turned out to be just right.
The factory was used for drying tobacco leaves. It is huge. Burri took it over after it became defunct to show his large, abstract works in the very big, very tall spaces. The use of the space was as interesting as his work (he himself designed the galleries). The audio guide helped us understand Burri, his life, influences, and vision
We wanted to know more about him and, as it turns out, we’ll have the chance this coming weekend at a show about him currently at the Guggenheim in New York. Closing time….
We hurried home where Sada Sat was preparing a spectacular farewell dinner. Yes that is a plate of fresh tagliatelle in olio novella (pressed maybe three days ago), topped with a decadent mountain of shaved fresh white truffles. Locals and their dogs sniff out the bounty and often give the Sada Sats samples as a thank you for letting them search on their land. This year has been too dry for a truffle bounty, so these were purchased from a nearby source. Wow.
The gang’s all here. Filled with all kinds of new things that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We’re packed and ready to drive to Florence tomorrow morning for a flight to Zurich and on the Newark. Sada Sat Kaur is also off to Sweden to do some training sessions.
We can’t thank the Sada Sats enough for their hospitality, guidance and love. You can’t help feeling like a better you after being with them.
Thanks also to Marsha and Josh who put up with my sometimes miss-direction, and in their opinion, my too aggressive driving. And, for forgiving me for posting this blog often forgetting to allow them to edit (that did show).
And special thanks to Linda, who kept clear, accurate and copious notes of all we’ve seen and done. And, her willingness to let me plagiarize them as necessary in order to keep some semblance of timeliness.
Also thanks to you, my dear friends, for joining us on this special adventure. Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed coming along…and what you think would make the trip even better for you as we plan the next one — probably next Spring. Safe travels all!
Receiving your emails was the highlight of our days. The boys loved listening along and looking at the pictures. “Oooooo” “Ahhhhhh” was part of their regular vocabulary. We will make travelers out of them yet. How about next time create some verse in children’s book style. 🙂 Love you and can’t wait for the next….
Loved visiting Italy through your eyes. What a treat!!
Thanks so much, Joel; we have really enjoyed vicariously experiencing Europe/Italy through your eyes and sensibilities and humor. We look forward to spending time with you and Marsha when you return.