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After a leisurely breakfast, we left our hostel for a short walk to meet our bus outside the gate of San Frediano. Our objective: Scarperia and the Renaissance Village.

Scarperia was founded 703 years ago as a major outpost on the road between Rome and Bologna. Every year, at this time, they celebrate the town’s founding with a Renaissance Village and, on September 8, the Pallio.

Our bus driver, Michele, took us along the scenic route to Scarperia, climbing the hills near Fiesole that provide such a bella vista of the Florence skyline. We arrived in Scarpera less than an hour later.

We passed through the entrance to the historic center of the town to find the streets strewn with hay and every Scarperian sporting authentic costumes of the time. The women were especially beautiful in sumptuous velvets and brocades.  Everyone had a character to play: a friar, a witch, a caveliere, a prostitute —- even the babies were in full dress!

The town was strewn with booths where artisans, using age-old practices, demonstrated everything from candle-making to book-binding to falconry.

We had a guided tour of the gardens surrounding the medieval castle, then headed off for lunch.

Traditional food was served. One needed to purchase renaissance florin to pay. Menu items included crostini, stew, leg-o-beast (pork), spiedone (large skewers of sausage), farro salad, etc.

We spent several more hours in Scarperia before heading home for the evening. Tomorrow is a free day to do as one pleases (“a ciascuno il suo”).