Monday, October 10, 2011

Italy Highlight

Check out the totally awesome, orange Cinquecento...must-get-one
Our second day of vacation brought one of my all time favorite moments in our year in Italy. It all began when we dropped the guys off in the town of Cortona, with their plan of cycling to Montepulciano. Cortona turned out to be a trip to Abilene (family joke, but taken from an actual phrase - Wikipedia it if you really want to know), but on our way into Cortona, we'd passed through a massive market going on in Camucia. Camucia is a fairly modern looking town at the base of the hill heading up into beautiful Cortona (best known today as the setting for Under the Tuscan Sun and still home to author Frances Mayes, at least for part of each year). There seems to be no real reason to stop in Camucia on one's way to Cortona...unless this market is happening. As it turns out, this was their annual festival, and the market went on for streets and streets. Lisa and I didn't even cover the whole market before getting the phone call from the guys saying they were already near Montepulciano. Having not found a whole lot of things to interest us, we got on the road to fulfill our chase car duties.
Recycled Etruscan and Latin stones at base of a palazzo - see...recycling = good
Montepulciano was a town we'd stopped into back in May and loved; however, we visited during reposo...or what I refer to as "that darn reposo." I decided then that this was a place we had to revisit. Montepulciano is also the town, for those of you who are Twilight movie fans, used in New Moon - when Edward is about to step into the sunlight to commit vampire suicide by forcing the Volturi to kill him, then Bella runs across the piazza to stop him...all that was filmed in Montepulciano. Just in case you were wondering.

But all of that is not the real reason we wanted to visit Montepulciano again. Actually, we wanted to return to one specific shop, a copper shop. We'd purchased a piece from this shop back in the spring, and as we walked through the rest of town, carrying our shopping bag, a man standing in a doorway looked at our bag, then said, "I made that." He was the coppersmith. We smiled, waved, thought how neat it was, and continued on our way. We wanted to revisit the shop. This time around, after making our purchases, we headed straight to the coppersmith's workshop, poked our heads in his door, held up the bags and began speaking in our pidgin Italian that we'd bought something in the spring and had returned for more, that we loved his work. And thus began our visit with Cesare Mazzetti, an amazing artisan who made the copper topping on the Duomo in Siena, also made a copper platter presented to the Pope and which is now a holding of the Vatican Museum, and an all around nice guy. Signore Mazzetti, after a short conversation, seemed to recognize our interest in his work, so he closed up his workshop and took us next door to his private museum, holding some of his first molds, work done by his father and his grandfather, and his collection of ancient copper pots. The chance to visit with Signore Mazzetti one on one, hear about his craft, listen to his stories of his family history, and just have that connection with him was one of the true highlights I've had here in Italy. So often, our interactions are superficial at best. I have such enormous respect for artists, especially those who are keeping alive the "old ways," in a world that has increasingly turned to inexpensive mass production with the accompanying loss in quality. And what a rush to have a real conversation in Italian, something beyond our standard two or three sentences! If you're interested in learning more about Signore Mazzetti and his hardworking wife who runs the shop, please check out their website - even better, visit the Montepulciano shop in person to pick out your own Italian souvenir.

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