Those under-appreciated Etruscans

We spent our morning seeing more of the lively city of Arezzo. Today was Saturday and there was a lot of action in the streets, including, but not limited to, an antiques market. Nice stuff, so it’s a good thing there is no room to spare in our luggage.

Our main focus today was the Archaeological Museum, housed in a former convent founded in 1323. It was built directly over the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre, which is why it has the lovely curved design. And while Rome left its share of remains, it is the Etruscan artifacts that we came to see, and for which Arezzo is known.

Arezzo was one of the key Etruscan centers of trade in the years before its conquest by Rome in the 4th century BC. The Etruscans had a bustling economy and there is great evidence here that they had the wealth and leisure to have also lived a beautifully ornamented life.

Seeing their jewelry, their sculpture, their mosaics and their tools, we are constantly reminded that the only thing that has really changed in the world is our technology.

The Romans certainly made advancements in that category, being brilliant engineers and builders. I love these sewer pipes, which probably haven’t been improved on yet. Each is carefully stamped with the owner’s name and designed to snuggle into the earth.

This museum was a bit of a muddle when it came to separating Etruscan from Roman or providing labels, but the star exhibit clearly is a Greek piece that presumably found its place in a very wealthy Etruscan home. This large and lovely red figure krater with spiral handles is attributed to the Attic potter Euphronios and decorated with scenes of battle between the Amazons and the ancient Greeks, created in the 6th c. BC.

One unusual display was a recreation of a Roman dining room. I could never get comfortable eating breakfast in bed, let along have a dinner party there, but lounging on their sides seemed to work well for the Romans.

So many lovely things, many 2,500 years old, and still worthy to be admired and coveted today. Can’t I just take one piece home?

Don’s Food Corner

First, an explanation about the salt-free bread of Umbria.  Umbria was once a Papal State.  During the middle of the 15th century one of the Popes levied a tax on salt in Umbria, and since then there has been no salt in the bread in this region.  Never forget; never forgive.

Today was a travel (and laundry) day.  We had a couple of “Kebab” sandwiches while sitting on a railway station platform.  No need for photos.

This evening, after doing the laundry, we decided for a quick pizza.  Well, it turned into a feast.  The server at the nearest pizza place talked us into a started of a platter of various fried delights — fried mozzarella, onion rings, rice balls with cheese (a variation of the street food specialty of Sicily), potato balls and olives.  All excellent, but that dish alone would have been enough.

But we had already ordered a ricotta-and-salami-filled calzone (for me) and a pizza with salami (for Jo).   Each was gigantic.  And fantastic.  We could see the wood burning oven from where we were sitting.  Both the pizza and calzone had a slightly smokey aura from the oven.  The crust for each was thick, but crusty.

We got there early — they didn’t open for dinner until 7.  By the time we left after 8, people were lining up.  They were also doing a brisk take-out business.  One of the special deals at the pizzeria was ordering  pizza by the meter.  The take-out boxes for the meter-size pizzas were almost as larger as the server.

We have to admit to not being able to finish these great meals.  But I know we will be able to recover.

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