Everyday life continues well for me here in Anghiari. Every day, I have engaging encounters and conversations, connections become deeper. I am meeting new people, making new friends; and, I have begun interviewing people again, on the theme of belonging. People give so generously in these interviews (which will appear at a later date on this blog). Of course, many of my interesting conversations happen because I am a visitor, but I would describe some of them as truly ‘everyday’, happening with people whom I see in an everyday sort of way.
In the past few days, conversations have been prompted by things going on in the artisans’ show and market, which has been running for a week, and ends today, May day, with a flower festival in piazza Baldaccio. This show/market is an annual event located in the mediaeval part of town, that is, the part of town where artisans’ workshops once existed, but is now, sadly, becoming empty, with more and more doors permanently closed. Some of these spaces are used for the show.
Piazza Baldaccio, which is the centre of the life of Anghiari, is just outside the walls, in the Renaissance part of town. The comune (town administration), where various events were held during the week, is located in the piazza del popolo, at the top of the old town. I went to a couple of talks there, one on Leonardo da Vinci and the mystery of ‘The Battle of Anghiari’, the other on artisans’ workshops in the 15th century, both of which were attended largely by locals.
Near the comune palazzo, in the piazza del popolo, you will also find the music school and the Free University of Autobiography; and, the liceo which specialises in woodwork is nearby. So, despite the absence of workshops and the decline in people living in this part of town, these institutions do provide a sense of real life still going on here – there are students in the streets. With regards to the liceo, however, I have just heard today that it is now under threat with falling enrolments. This art institute/school has been very important in maintaining the local woodworking traditions of inlaying, carving, furniture restoration, and the production of musical instruments. During the show, it has been open to visitors, with students displaying their work.
Although artisans’ workshops no longer exist in the mediaeval part of town, there are still woodworking artisans in and around Anghiari – for example Maestro Santi who does inlaying (and whom I have spoken about in a previous blog), and the Calli brothers who do furniture restoration (photo above). People such as the latter, for example, had showrooms during the market, and there were woodworkers from nearby towns such as Sansepolcro and Citta di Castello displaying their work. Other artisans from the region who were participating in the market included ironworkers, jewellers, toymakers and this woman from Arezzo who does embroidery.
Apart from these, there were ubiquitous Italian goods for sale of varying quality. When the weather was fine, and on holidays, there were lots of visitors, and restaurants, bars and the alimentari were doing a roaring trade.
Early this morning, Simona from the Tutto shop was organising the shop’s flower display in the piazza. And, there are now flowers throughout the town, on doorsteps, in corners, everywhere you look. Just as happened at this time last year.