Saturday, December 15, 2007

Certaldo Market (9 of 10)

Yet another perfect day - although we never seemed to have anything else while staying here. The night before, Ada, from our little restaurant, La Grilia, had told us that the Certaldo market would be on today. How exciting! We were at Certaldo Alto yesterday; today we retraced our steps, stopping twice along the way for the views. At one stop we stood for quite a while watching some olives being harvested with the electric comb attached to a small generator.

Road to Certaldo

We parked outside a bar near one side of the markets at the end of town, had delicious cappuccino, and then walked across to look at all the stalls. What fun! We always went to markets whenever possible and really enjoyed the experience.

At this one I bought a long, pale pink parka (no one in Tuggeranong will have anything like it) and a cyclamen as a present for Ada as it was to be our last dinner at our restaurant there for this year, later that evening. We also bought sugar dispensers like I used everyday at the bars for my cappuccini. Another little slice of Italy for my cucina in Canberra.

Walking back to the bar after the market, for the third or was it the fourth cappuccino of the day, we thought ourselves very fortunate. Certaldo Alto one day, Certaldo markets the next.

Later on in the afternoon, we went to church. To La Collegia to be precise. We always enjoy touring the basilica and seeing the frescoes of Santa Fina with her long suffering nurse. The ceiling of this church was magnificent with arches everywhere of endless dark blue with gold stars. Everywhere you looked, you saw angels in the architecture, cherubim holding up garlands, and the striped marble featured throughout so many churches in Tuscan towns.

The frescos are mostly intact but Santa Fina, in her private chapel in the front of the church, in a little side chapel on the right of the chapel is perhaps the finest, and it’s my favorite. The stained glass window over the altar of San Gimignano is from 1936 and the new rose window up above the entrance is from 2002. The church was built in 1100 and consecrated in 1148.

All these facts came from the custodian who became quite friendly and chatty once we assured her that we wouldn’t be taking any pictures. Entrance to the church was 3.50 euros and an extra 2 euros if you intended to visit the museum next door as well.

Afterwards, just as much fun was had shopping for hand embroidered things of velvet, make up bags, lavender bags and glasses cases, all in colors like apricot, pale pink, light green and gold - what a find! We were each given pot holders as a 'regalo' (gift) with our purchases. Then there was dinner and farewells to Ada at the restaurant.

We walked back to Albergo La Cisterna for a final evening of watching the lights twinkle on as darkness fell. Bells chimed and caroled in the dusk. Our stay in this enchanted town is never long enough and after eight days we felt bereft at the thought of leaving in the morning. I think a two week stay on the next trip might suit us better.

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