(October 3, 2015) The first Sunday (and the preceding Saturday) of each month, the largest antiques fair in Italy is held in Arezzo, a 90-minute train ride away. I plan my trips to include the fair, usually twice, and can be found on the Saturday of the sale at the Spello train station at 9, catching the train to go see what I can find.
Some of the larger pieces of furniture in my home were purchased at Arezzo, and later delivered to me in Spello. I have purchased art, wooden carvings, a small carved wooden box, and a metal jewelry “safe” that is too easy to carry away to place anything of value inside. Now that my home is furnished, and I have no more room for some of the wonderful things that I see, I go to explore, to talk to vendors about the history of what they are selling, and occasionally to bring back small things. Even if I come home empty-handed, I try never to miss this fun event, covering the main piazzas in the “centro storico” (central historic district) and most of the streets connecting them—nearly 500 vendors on a good day.
I don’t really go looking for anything in particular any more, but I just enjoy looking at the offerings, taking a few photographs, and sometimes I find small things that I bring back, or plan to take home later. I enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the principal piazzas, take my time, and plan to meet the return trains to Spello (running every two hours). I made quite a reputation for myself in Spello, carrying a bench once, and once a headboard, onto the train home and then all the way up the hill through town–and I am still being asked it that was me (yes, it was!).
This trip, I came back with only small things, including lasts for tiny shoes for a child, a pencil drawing of a curly dog, a painting on wood of an angel, and a collection of typographer’s letters, all large, to hang on my kitchen wall among the other things I have hanging, to fill in spaces.
Now, it costs me more to travel to Arezzo than what I end up spending there, but I’m looking for inexpensive art for walls, and really looking for history and the story of any antiques whose vendors have time to talk to me. We Americans consider things over 100 years old antiques, and I am seeing carvings and statues and paintings at Arezzo that were from many centuries ago, even before Columbus sailed toward the New World. It’s an education, and a trip to a “museum” where I can touch, and sometimes own, small pieces of history.