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Published: October 8th 2019
Is'nt it odd when you want to heap praise on something you often refer to the old marketing slogan of Carlsberg lager ! If Carlsberg made aires - if Carlsberg supported the best football team. Today I thought if Carlsberg made markets then Pitigliano had to win the award hands down. It reminded me of markets we used to have back home in the 50's and 60's . Dad used to take me to the cattle markets and then into what were massive markets full of stalls selling anything and everything you had need for. Trying to park in Pitigliano was difficult . We had to try to squeeze through hundreds of Italian cars parked at odd angles to the road. Doors opening all the time and families falling out into the road . Three or four walking abreast in the middle of the road . It was like the worst obstacle course you could imagine. We did however get to the parking area and found the last space available that would take Gabby, The awful driving of the Italians made this journey a very difficult one.
Things are not going to plan for us so Buddha came in handy
reminding us that " We do not learn by experience but by our capacity for experience" and boy are we experiencing life in all its many hues here in Pitigliano today. We are seeing what an Italian Sunday at the market is like . We are learning more and more about what makes Italians tick. They do love life and make the most of every day as if it were their last. I an not sure they value it as we have passed so many roadside shrines to young men and women killed in car accidents. Today we were nearly scooped up by a rather foolish driver in his Fiat 500 who had misjudged a corner . He approached us on the wrong side of the road . The sight of him hurtling towards me made to think he was never going to correct himself and he would embed himself in Gabbys bonnet and engine taking us with him. How he managed to correct himself I shall never ever know but I sighed a large sigh and thanked something or someone for getting him out of our way. Good drivers maybe - careless ones yes . The rule in Italy
whether its the rule of the road or walking is that there is no rule . They walk as they drive - barging by , pushing you out of their way, expecting you to move . We have learned quickly not to move , Occaisionally you barge shoulders , sometimes you bump them out of the way . If you cannot beat them then there is no choice but to join them and take up Italian habits .
The market was a joy . Stalls everywhere selling everything from curtains to carpets, from bedding to towels . Some stalls sold kitchen utensils and cooking equipment . Others sold shoes , handbags, gloves and belts . Further down were the food stalls , roast chickens , cheese stalls , onions and chilli specialities of the area . All manner of fruit and vegetable . A good old fashioned market and well loved by the locals who treated it as a day out for themselves and their children.
We walk down into town . It is another one of those hilltop towns that perch precariously on the hillside . You wonder how the houses were built in the first place
and how they still stand . The colour is mellow in the early Autumn sunshine . We cross the busy road and enter the first piazza , We sit and have a coffee and a custard cake. It seems as if all of Italy are here today enjoying the lovely weather .
The towns streets are narrow and medieval . They would be recognisable to a 14th century visitor if they arrived today . Little has changed over the centuries . The tall houses five stories high block out the light . It is cool down the streets and the pleasant smells of cheese and wines and pasta fill the air. We look inside them . They are like a tardis with shelves filled with goodies . We walk up to the church but dont bother going in. It is white and Baroque outside so will be Baroque inside . The tower is a mixture of stone work and white plasterwork .
Pitigliano is a quaint place and has another name of Little Jerusalem. This is because of the historical presence of the Jews who were well integrated into the community and had their own synagogue . One of the most imposing features is the acqueduct built by the Medici family which dominates the town. It was built to provide what was a village with running water between the years of 1636 and 1639. It was the first acqueduct built in the Maremma region . Restored in the 18th century by the Lorraines who added a few more smaller arches to it. It was incorporated into the town walls and is made of the local tufa rock . The Medici family from Florence came to power here in the town following a peoples revolt of 1562 where Count Niccol Orsini was exiled . Once the Medici family claimed ownership of Pitigliana they obtained protection of it becoming important to the town. Despite everything they did the town never quite achieved its full potential socially or economically due to its remoteness from their base in Florence . The population like that of many medieval towns were reduced to poverty and forced to emigrate in the hope of a better life somwhere else . Isn't that the sad story of many hilltowns in Italy?
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