Tag Archives: Market

“Life is Beautiful” in Arezzo


Buongiorno, principessa!

In 1999, Life is Beautiful won big at the Oscars, taking home the awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Music, and Best Foreign Language Film. In addition, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at that year’s awards. Indeed, Life is Beautiful, or La vita è bella as it’s called in Italian, is a masterful film, combining comedy and tragedy to follow the story of a Jewish man who uses humor to have a wonderful romance, yet must use that same quality to protect his son during the Holocaust.

The beginning part of the movie is set in Arezzo, a town in Eastern Tuscany that often gets overshadowed by its more famous tourist destinations in the region. However, at one time, it was one of the wealthiest cities in Tuscany, producing gold jewelry for shops all over Europe. Today, it’s well-known for the gigantic, sprawling antiques market, when over 500 vendors set up shop in the city for the first weekend of each month.

What kind of place is this? It’s beautiful: Pigeons fly, women all from the sky! I’m moving here!

Several weeks ago, the owner/artist of a recycled furniture shop recommended that Arezzo has the best market around, so we added it to our list of day trips for the semester. The night before, Julia, Liz, and I watched Life is Beautiful to prepare, before catching a train the next morning to the town along with Staci. And, needless to say, la vita è veramente bella when you get to spend in wandering alleys in a new town.

We wandered the streets, ducked into churches, browsed the hundreds of tents, and ate at a wonderful trattoria for lunch. What more could you want?

After an afternoon of walking around, we caught the train back to Florence and ate dinner in the city.

La vita è bella, no?

A Visit from St. Nicholas

Last Friday (Dec. 6) was St. Nicholas’s Day. In my family, we celebrate by putting our stockings out in front of the fireplace for St. Nick’s visit during the night. I always considered myself lucky that St. Nick visited my family not once, but twice, during December.

St. Nicholas himself came from present-day Demre, a town in southern Turkey about four hours east of Alanya. In the 4th century, he had a reputation for secret gift-giving, serving as a model for the Santa Claus we know and love today. During the Byzantine Empire, St. Nicholas was also one of the many bishops who answered Constantine’s request to appear at the First Council of Nicea, where he was one of those who signed the Nicean Creed.

And so, it was a pleasant surprise to visit a Christmas Market (Noel Pazarı) here in Alanya last Sunday. To all the naysayers who worry about the rising Islamism or intolerance in Turkey, I’d like them to take a look at the wonderful market that the town organizes every year near the harbor.


There was lots of food! Many of the local cultural associations in Alanya––from the Russians to the Lithuanians to the Germans to the Dutch––set up booths with their traditional sweets.

Amanda and I with our berliners!

You could buy all kinds of handmade crafts.


I found the Polish booth.

There was even a Christmas tree!


I also tried salep for the first time, a Turkish drink made from the flour of the tubers of orchids. It’s mixed with hot milk and sprinkled with cinnamon on top––so good!


Happy holidays!