Before we headed out for the day, we met Martina, about whom we’ve heard a lot. She’s the daughter of the first family to welcome the Sada Sats to their new home. Mario, her father, and Martina have been an invaluable source for information and connections while the property has been developing. Martina, who is now 23 works directly for the Sada Sats. She does everything including helping navigate the Italian bureaucracy (a daunting task) – to assisting with preparation and cleaning for guests – to providing advice about what to see locally. A more competent and willing young person would be very hard to find!
Before heading to La Verna following Sada Sat Kaur’s recommendation…we just had to find a place to wash the (really filthy as you have seen in a previous photo) car. We needed some diesel anyway so found a station that had their own version of an automatic car wash. Fortunately the attendant (who spoke no English) was nice enough to help us get the washing process started after fueling up. He wanted to know if I wanted the 5-Euro wash or the 7-Euro (still don’t have any idea what the difference is). I decided on the 7 – I’m a really big spender you know. Really, really wish I had videoed the process. An ingenious series of brushes, nozzles, sensors and moving arms started moving around and above our stationary car – with us inside – soaping, rinsing, blowing dry in a robot-like process for what must have been over 10-minutes (I guess the 7-Euro version). Every time the arms moved ominously toward the car, Linda either screamed or closed her eyes…not trusting this kind of technology I guess.
Finally, sparkling clean, we headed up a winding mountain road (are there any other kind here) to La Verna, a monastery located in a beautiful national forest.
The monastery was founded at this site because it was reputed to be the place where St. Francis received the stigmata. Francis is especially venerated here. Some of his relics are part of the treasure.
This is still an active religious community so silence is requested while visiting the main complex. People talk in whispers and there are no group tours. Quiet is an essential part of the beauty of this place.
There are several buildings at La Verna that contain extremely beautiful, large glazed terracotta reliefs by Andrea Della Robbia, also by his son and workers of his studio. Some are incredibly colorful…
The brilliant artistry of Della Robbia is breath-taking. We’ve seen so many paintings and frescoes of this subject matter during our trip, but the detail and the gracefulness of Della Robbia’s figures shines above. The facial expressiveness and composition bring the figures and scenes to life. We’ve all become major fans.
There was a restaurant/refectory there that was available to the public. We needed a light lunch as we were anticipating a big, scrumptious dinner at Al Coccio in Sansepulcro that evening. No one could speak English and Sada Sat was not with us to interpret, so we just sat at a table for four and looked at a small mimeographed sheet with some menu items. We checked Google for some translations, but it turned out not necessary. The wait staff just kept coming out filling our plates – everyone gets everything the kitchen has prepared that day. First they filled our bowls with enough pasta each to feed a family of six (I was first so couldn’t stop the server dumping three helping in – I did finish it). Then they came out with plates of chicken, duck, sausage, and pork loin. Look out, we got it all (at least Josh could substitute sausage for the chicken that is not his bag). Thought we were back in Brazil for a moment. With it they served a green salad. They offered local (curative) water and wine. So much for a light lunch. Urp!
Satiated in mind, body and spirit we wound back down the mountain and headed off to a walled, steep hill town Sada Sat had recommended.
We got to Anghiari just before sunset and walked in under the bell tower.
It is an incredibly picturesque place where people still live and work.
It is kept in pristine shape and we only wished we had more time to explore it’s museums and shops, but time and darkness were upon us.
Making this day even more surreal, we came around a corner and there was another Della Robbia, this time the Madonna disguised as Snow White! Don’t you think?
Anyway, we headed back through Sansepulcro and met Sada Sat for another spectacular dinner at Al Coccio.
Back to the Yoga Borgo for some rest before doing up Arezzo tomorrow…on our last full day in this magnificent part of Italy. Time has flown.