One of the features of the cooking school agenda is an afternoon trip to the nearby pre-Etruscan town of Arezzo, birthplace of the Italian poet Petrarch.
Apparently Bill and Cindy were scheduled to see some fabulous frescoes in a church, but we'll probably never know just how fabulous they are. See, on the road to Arezzo their limo broke down.
There they were, stuck on the side of the autostrada, about 20 minutes out of Arezzo. What to do, what to do? Cindy and Bill didn't care. This was much more exciting than touring another Catholic church.
But their driver, named Claudio of course, was beside himself. His little cell phone nearly melted as he made call after call, begging for help, berating the mechanic who was supposed to have fixed the van yesterday, pleading for patience from the tour guide waiting for us in Arezzo, tracking down our rescuer who was lost. It was all quite a show. And Claudio really was a funny guy.
Bill didn't catch the full flavor of the conversation on video, but this should give you some idea.
Just look at his face when Cindy showed him a picture of her daughters Laura and Elizabeth. "Ooooh bella, bella! You senda picture to dem in California? Letta me smile-a. Bigga smile-a for dem. You tella dem Claudio take-a care a dem dey ever come-a Eeetaly."
Finally our rescuer arrived and we hurried on to Arezzo. Here's Cindy saying goodbye to Claudio and promising to give her daughters his Facebook address. I wonder if she has remembered to do that. I really wonder.
And there's our guide who was supposed to spend the entire afternoon showing us religious paintings but now could give us only about 45 minutes of walking through the old town. Yay! We dodged that bullet.
Here's where the religious frescoes are. All closed up, darnit.
Here's a monument to Petrarch commissioned by Mussolini. Nice park, actually.
No time for monuments, though. Off we go to the center of the old medieval town.
Arezzo was one of the last cities in Italy to be conquered (actually, bought) by the Florentines. This old building was home to a family that let every heir hang a crest on the outside wall. These crests go back a few years.
This is a famous loggia designed by the great Arezzo artist and architect Giorgio Vasari.
That's Giorgio admiring his work.
Now we're approaching the Piazza Grande, the center of town.
It slopes. It's the site of a first-Sunday-of-the-month antiques fair as well as medieval jousting matches in summer.
But this evening it's practically deserted. Quiet, peaceful and lovely.
That's an old church with a clock and bell tower. See?
And that's the piazza again.
All going to sleep now.
It sits below the very impressive Pieve di Santa Maria, one of Tuscany's finest Romanesque churches, built in the 12th century. That's all according to Fodor's.
Shhhh. Everybody's gone. Be quiet and maybe you can hear the sound of some jousting.
Now off to wait for our restaurant to open. We're not really hungry; Chef Claudio had stuffed us full of food we'd cooked earlier in the day. But at this point there was little to do in Arezzo but wait for the restaurant to open so we could eat a little something before we were picked up for the return to Relais Torre Guelfa.
Let's see .... there's a church without much of a facade.
And there's a statue.
And here's our view as we sat for 45 minutes on a sidewalk bench watching the world of Arezzo pass us by.
Somebody from the office back home sent an email announcing there were leftover box lunches available. I snapped this picture inside one of the local delicatessens to let them know we don't need no stinkin' box lunches in Italy.
That's our restaurant down there on the left behind the bollards. Will it ever open?
Finally! A warm place to sit.
And eat! We hadn't been hungry, but oh my, just look at that pork shank.
Bill is satisfied with the way the day has gone.