Meeting "Giorgio Bush"
Wow. What a weekend. These past three days have been so genuinely Italian, I could not have been more fortunate to be at the right place, at the right time. Friday was a wine tasting, production lesson, and tour of the vineyard in Chianti, followed by lunch in a small town; Saturday was a trip to a family-owned bee farm with a stop at a monthly farmer’s market, resulting in a luxurious lunch; Sunday was gray, slow, spent–at least that’s how I felt in the morning.
Outside was dreary. My aesthetically out-of-place iPhone used its superpowers to inform of rain all day. There’s nothing to kill the mood of a parade like a rainy winter day, especially when the floats are made of paper-mâché. Some of the girls had mixed feelings, but Deborah, our steadfast, leading enthusiast was ready to go no matter the conditions. We assembled, slowly, stumbling onto the piazza, just an hour later, in the heat of the Tuscan sun. We met her at the base of the Duomo, at Fontebranda–she was wearing a t-shirt and a smile.
That’s how everything turned out. The drive to Foiano through Tuscan countryside was unmatchable. Crossing into Arezzo, long anticipated, signaled our arrival. We parked at an outlet mall under a sign that read ‘Motocicli’, in between two other silver cars. Once we jumped on the shuttle to the hilltop town, that was it. Carnevale went on in its fashion, full of smile and awe at the marvelous creations still produced by human hands. Foiano della Chiana has been hosting a Carnevale event since 1539, making it the oldest in Italy.
Much like Siena, Foiano is a fortified city. It attempted to defend itself against Firenze, and failed. Of course. It also is home to four contrada type groups called cantieri, there are the Azzurri, Rustici,Bombolo, and Nottambuli, which were initiated not long after World War I.
Famous and valued people to have graced Foiano include Leonardo da Vinci and Giorgio Bush. In pursuit of finding a place to eat (everyone runs to the few open restaurants during lunch time, good luck finding chow if you’re busy 'taking it all in’), we asked a few of the folks running security. They very quickly warmed up to us, and one, Luciano, sometimes known as George W. Bush, recounted to us the tale of being mistaken for the 43 president of the US of A by a group from San Francisco overtaken by their wine-tasting. He proceeded to talk politics (Obama has too much sex with his wife, he said), tell of us his daughter and niece (who live in New York and Siena, respectively), offer life advice (Non fumare! Non fumare!), and extend an invitation to his 50th wedding anniversary in New York next February! (Whichever cantiero would put him on a float and arm him with a microphone would be sure to win the parade competition.)
Eve Litvak - Sustainability - Spring 2015