It doesn’t seem like nearly three years ago, when I, my husband Scotty Walsh, and our then-three-year old daughter, Lulu,stepped off the train for the first time in Arezzo. Sometimes it seems like only yesterday – when I discover something new in Centro Storico I never noticed before. And sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago – as so many places have become more than familiar and so many warm-hearted Aretini have become dear friends.
Piazza Grande, for example, is not only where we have watched the Giostra del Saracino four times sitting in the stands – once as guests of Mayor Giuseppe Fanfani himself. It is also where Lulu plays, where we sip coffee, enjoy aperitivi, where we climb up to the top of the Fraternita dei Laici bell-tower to enjoy the view, and it is what we admire every day as I walk Lulu from our house on Via Fra Le Torri to her elementary school, Aliotti.
Piazza San Francesco is not only famous for the fresco series, The Legend of the True Cross, it is also a vibrant center of night-life as friends spill out from haunts like Caffè dei Costanti – where the proprietors were kind enough to let me rent a table for free where I wrote my book, Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me, about the adventures Lulu and I have had here in Tuscany. They also graciously provided the room for my book-launch party last year.
Piazza San’Agostino is not only where InformaGiovani helps us find fun things to do over the weekend. It is also now where we meet friends and where, like last year, Lulu is a regular patron of the carousel above the fountain.
We have had dinner at the Mayor’s house, aka, “Zio Beppe” as Lulu calls him. (Honestly, he made the best fritelli de fiore zucchini I have ever tasted.)
I have toured the house of Giorgio Vasari with Aretino journalist, photographer, historian and friend, Gianni Brunacci ,as my very informative guide. Lulu and I were asked to model in last year’s La Notte Rosa by our lovely estetician Simona Giusti, from Estetica Simona. Lulu only has to pop in and say, “Ciao” to Alfredo at Macelleria Gastronomia Bassi Alfredo and she is handed a delicious slice of mortadella.
Massimo over at Bar Stefano gave me eight extra little chocolate eggs to put in her Easter basket. Elena, Nicola and Michele at the personal training gym Moving, have worked hard to help me keep off the kilos I should be putting on because of all the great Tuscan food I keep eating.
We have eaten everything at practically every restaurant in town; there are too many memories to list here. But I can tell you that Mario di Filippo, from one of our favorite places, Buca di San Francesco, has become much more than a friend. He is now Lulu’s official Nonno Italiano.
By the way, for those of you restaurateurs with signs in English declaring, “Typical Tuscan food” – change that to “Authentic Tuscan food.” I promise it is the translation you’re going for.
I can thank Paola di Juliis for helping us find each of the three beautiful apartments we have lived in. She also coordinated my book launch to great success. I also want to thank Francesca Cappelletti for introducing me to Arezzo’s Tourism Department. It was through her that I volunteered to rewrite the English versions of the Giostra brochure and the Benvenuti ad Arezzo website.
I am proud to say they both read so much better than they had before. I only wish I had been asked to do more. I cringe every time I read the new signs around Centro Storico describing the various palazzi and places of interest. They should have at least been better translated and they could have been so much more interesting and compelling. A missed opportunity. I also wrote what I believe is the only article published in an American magazine about last year’s Icastica contemporary art installation. I wish I could have done more.
But, heck, we’re not moving back to the United States. We’re only moving “down the street” to Ireland. Not so far away at all. If anyone would like me to help out with some marketing copy or a communications outreach strategy, I will still be close by.
I only recently discovered that the break-down of the word “Arrivederci” means to “re-see one another.” I had mistakenly thought it was simply the same as the English word, “Goodbye.” But, in what I believe is the more friendly Italian way, the word implies a desire to see each other again. And that is truly my hope. This summer, Ryan Air begins direct flights between Cork and Arezzo, so I plan to “re-see” you all again soon.
Thank you, Arezzo. You have made my life, and the lives of my husband and our daughter, so much richer.