Rain stops play in Arezzo

From Lake Trasimeno in the Italian region of Umbria we were able to get to Cortona in Tuscany in just half an hour.

The streets of Cortona

Cortona was quite a large hilltop town compared to the ones we had already visited but that day we were able to find a designated parking spot for our campervan with no trouble at all.

Yes! Parking designated only for camper vans

Better still, instead of having to slog up hundreds of steps or toil up a steep hill path, there were a series of escalators to carry us up to the city gates.

Great to get a help up the hill

Like all the Italian hilltop villages and towns, Cortona had beautiful narrow streets and alleyways. Fantastic views – tick. Amazing wine bars and restaurants – tick. Glorious renaissance buildings – tick. Stately palazzos and churches – tick. Wonderful shops – tick.

Cortona had beautiful lanes and alleyways

….fantastic views….
Amazing restaurants and cafes….

….including gelato stalls …
….glorious buildings…

…stately palazzos…
….wonderful shops….

The thing that made this particular Italian hilltop town stand out (apart from being the town in which the book and film “Under the Tuscan Sun” was set), was its absolutely excellent museum – the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca which is situated in the Palazzo Casali.

It was even more he location for a book and film….
But what made it special was the amazing museum

Despite its name, the museum has items on display not only from the city’s Etruscan past but also from Roman, and Egyptian times, as well as art and artefacts from the Medieval and Renaissance eras.

Stunning Etruscan jewellery
There were loads of interesting exhibits
Including many fascinating artefacts

We last saw something like this in an exhibition of Roman remains in Bath, England

Among its most famous ancient artefacts is a bronze Etruscan hanging lamp, found at Fratta near Cortona in 1840. It is thought that the lamp originated from an important Etruscan religious shrine of around the second half of the 4th century BC.

The precious Etruscan lamp
View from the museum balcony
As well as the modern museum there were some very ancient exhibits

We arrived at our next stop Arezzo at night and found a great spot to stay just outside the city but the wind was extremely wild overnight and the next day we woke to grey rain laden skies.

On the way up to Arezzo

Despite the prospect of rain we made our way up the hillside (again with the aid of escalators) and found the cathedral which unfortunately closed to visitors that day.

The Cathedral spire dominated the skyline

Near the cathedral we found a Palazzo in which there was a great exhibition and short film about Arezzo’s annual festival called the Saracen Joust which dates back to the Middle Ages.

There was a great exhibition on in this Palazzo

The joust is a contest in which horseback riders charge at a wooden target attached to a carving of a Saracen king and score points according to accuracy.

The jousters costumes were on display

The riders represent different parts of town and differentiate themselves by wearing variously coloured costumes of medieval knights.

The costumes were very dramatic

The whole town comes out to watch and almost everybody dresses in medieval costume and supports their rider very loudly and enthusiastically.

As we reached the massive and stunning main square (where the jousting contest takes place) it started to pour with rain so we ducked into a conveniently placed wine bar and had a very nice lunch.

One Sunday a month this loggia is filled with market stalls selling antiques
The main square was impressively large
The church of Santa Maria della Pieve
Each of these columns is different – the one on the far left is apparently a caryatid (a column sculpted in the form of woman)
Sheltering from the rain in a classic Italian wine bar

It was still raining when we’d finished our lunch so we made a dash for the fort (Fortezza Medicea) which was beautifully restored but lacked the atmosphere of the fortress in Castiglione del largo.

In the Fortezza Medicea

The views from the fortress are meant to be spectacular but sadly the heavy rain meant that we couldn’t enjoy them.

The weather having got the better of us for the first time during our entire trip, we decided to retreat to our home on wheels for the rest of the day.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Rain stops play in Arezzo”

  1. These mediaeval hilltop towns just never fail to amaze, do they – each one full of art treasures, beautiful buildings and wonderful restaurants and views!


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