A Saturday stroll through Arezzo included a market, service, churches, and artwork.
We officially began our service project at the children’s shelter today. The room we were given to paint is a room for three girls and the walls were quotes that the girls had written over the years. All the quotes were about empowerment, having confidence, and loving yourself. I thought it was cool that girls wrote these messages on the wall because it was something that gave them strength to conquer each day. It also made me realize that girls all around the world struggle with confidence and loving themselves as they are. Our world is filled with so much hate that tears us down and often times makes us feel like we need to be something we are not. However, as women, we are strong and need to realize that we are beautiful just the way we are no matter where we come from. These quotes had such beautiful meanings that we chose to keep one on the wall. It is a reminder that we can all overcome our obstacles in life.
After working on our service project we got to enjoy the city streets of Arezzo and visit the local market that is hosted every Saturday. The market is filled with fresh fruit, amazing local meats and cheese, and different articles of clothes and jewelry. I bought the best cherries I have ever eaten and some of the juiciest peaches. The fruit was so fresh, which was a nice break from all the pizza and pasta I have been eating. I also tried the local cooked pig. The pig was roasted in different spices and herbs, which made for a delicious sandwich. I love embracing the culture here and trying their different types of food. It makes me feel like I am a true Italian 😉
One of the best moments of the day was entering into a local 13th-century church called Basilica San Francesco which is home to frescoes painted by Piero della Francesca. My immediate reaction when I walked into the church was amazement of the beautiful frescoes located behind the altar. The space entails medieval architecture but is brought to life by the frescoes. The frescoes are comprised of many beautiful colors that make the space light up. The natural light hits the paintings in a way that makes you feel that the Divine is present in the church. The church is dedicated to Saint Frances which is shown with crucifix because of the stigmata, that is the wounds Christ received when crucified but Saint Frances also received. Therefore the most important aspect of the church is the crucifix hanging over the alter that the frescoes frame. The frescoes make me feel that I am back in the time the stories of the art is taking place. The paintings are so detailed and do a fantastic job of telling a story within one picture. Renaissance art is to engage and bring the stories home, which is exactly what the frescoes did for me. I enjoyed the paintings all around, but my favorite piece of the church was the statue of Saint Francis. It is a beautiful statue that made me feel as if I was standing in front of Saint Francis himself.
Saint Francis is celebrated in Arezzo because he is known for purifying the city. In 1217 he travels to Arezzo and sees demons flying over the city. He calls for them to be exercised by a priest. The city is purified and a large golden cross appears over the cityscape. People in Arezzo celebrate Saint Francis for dissolving the corruption and demons within the city.
After visiting the church I enjoyed a nice meal with friends. However, we didn’t eat the traditional pasta or pizza you would find in Italy. Instead, we ate at the local sushi restaurant that has brought my standards of sushi back home to a higher level. It was amazing.