Topics include Transportation, Things to Do, Dining Scene, Italy: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Originally a Roman city, Arezzo has many claims to fame. Among these, Guido d'Arezzo is credited with inventing the musical scale as it is known today, along with the "Guidonian Hand". Also, in the nearby mountains is Camaldoli, the "mother house" of the Camaldolese monks and nuns. Saint Romuald, a fascinating character who lived in the 11th century, was their founder. The twin monasteries, one a cenobium (where monks live in community) and the other a hermitage (where monks live in small houses and spend most of their time alone) still exists. The two are separated by a mile or so, the hermitage being higher up the mountain. These monks also have a house in the Big Sur area of California.
A popular event is the Joust of the Saracen, a medieval pageant
that rivals in some ways Siena's Palio. The Giostra del Saraceno
is a jousting contest against a target dummy, shaped like a human
torso, dressed like a Saracen warrior (of the Crusades), and mounted on
a swivel. This dummy is charged by knights in full aror, on
horsseback. When a charging knight strikes the Saracen's shield
with his lance, the dummy swings around. In the dummy's other
hand is a spiked ball on a longish chain, so the knight needs to keep
riding fast after he has struck the shield; otherwise, he may get hit
by the spiked ball.
Of course, before the 'main event' there is a lot of medieval pageantry -- flag tossing, processions, and the rest. But, what is important to know is that the knights each represent one quartiere of the city, and wear its colors. Everyone jams into the main piazza for the event, and the excitement is palpable. Why? Well, for one thing, all the townspeople are betting heavily on the outcome! A lot [of money] is riding on this seemingly medieval spectacle. It's as exciting as any modern sports event, and a lot more colorful than most. The Giostra takes place each September.
Arezzo also has a number of architectural and artistic attractions.