Welcome to the third stop of the road trip through Italy. This time we will avoid the crowds in Florence and move to a city called Arezzo. It has around 100,000 inhabitants, and I chose it as an alternative to New Year’s Eve in Florence.
First impressions of Arezzo
The original idea was to spend the last night of the year in Siena, but all the accommodation was taken. So instead, I looked around the map and decided to go local. Arezzo intrigued me because the Oscar movie Life is beautiful (La vita e bella) was shot there. And also, it was small enough to experience an authentic Italian New Year.
Arezzo surprised me by its medieval character. There were a lot of old buildings and passages. There is a big square that was filled with little stalls that were meticulously covered with sheets, but these were promising an interesting market experience on the first day of the year. I am not sure if it was because of a tradition to get rid of old stuff or if it was some real antique sellers.
Dining in Arezzo
Before joining the Arezzians on the hill to celebrate the departure of the old and welcome the new year, I grabbed a dinner in the downtown. It was not that easy given I didn’t have any reservation. It seemed that I will be hungry in the New Year, but luckily I managed to find a place called Luck (how ironic, right?). It also happened for the first time that a waiter would explain me the menu, so I made an informed choice this time, and chose beef stew with tomatoes and panna cotta with berries. Thank you for being capitalistic and allowing me to have a meal at your place!
New Year celebration – Tuscan style
An impressive crowd of people met in the park in front of the church at a top of the hill to celebrate together the New Years. The weather was chilly, but the air was surprisingly fresh. It was a pleasant change after Florence. Every visitor of this little town festival got a balloon, which they released after the midnight. There was also a lot of fireworks, but I was trying to keep away from it.
There was also a local buffet of delicacies. I like that Italians prepare local food to eat, there are no hasty, smelly fast foods, but real decent food. All his accompanied by a selection of local wines. There were also cocktails and beer offered at different stalls. There was a DJ that was playing really old hits (yes, YMCA). After midnight, he played some electronic music, which made a huge contrast to his previous retro set.
An inspection into Italian elegance
One thing that surprised me a lot was that although it was around 0 degrees, people were really nicely dressed up. The guys were wearing suits with white shirts and ties. They had their coats open to show off their elegance. The girls were wearing rather short skirts and very very light jackets. I looked like a little Eskimo girl compared to them.
Because Arezzo is such a small town, people were nonstop greeting each other after the year 2017 started. The atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming. Italy is also taking the safety seriously, so the entrance of the celebration park was guarded by police who performed checks too.
Exploring Arezzo in the daylight
I got to bed before 1 am, which I consider a huge success. I didn’t really drink a lot, so it was actually nice for once to weak up on the first of January by myself, before the alarm clock, and not feel hangover or dizzy. My host made me a lovely breakfast including traditional festive sweet bread called Pannettone.
I wanted to wander through the streets of Arezzo around 11 am. The big square and surrounding streets were packed with stalls selling old stuff from closets, chandeliers, to old army shoes, fluffy toys, books. Think of anything and you would be able to find it there – including a collection of Barbies. It was really diverse and a lot of people were out in the streets enjoying the beautiful sunny day.
The best ever souvenir
I didn’t feel like buying anything but one stall actually caught my attention. It was an old guy offering to make a brooch with your name from a wire. At first, I passed his booth and didn’t stop to look closer. But as I went forward, I realized that it would be nice to have a customized memory from this trip, and I returned to grab it. At a cost of 3 EUR only, it is a priceless and unique souvenir.
And then, there was not much time left, I wandered through the streets of this beautiful medieval Tuscan city and imagined Roberto Benigni shooting the movie La vita e Bella. I had a great New Year’s Eve without tourists, was relaxed and ready to move on. And I didn’t even mind to find out that my train to Rome is delayed. It was a lovely getaway. How was your New Year’s Eve? Drop me a comment below!