The first Sunday of September marks the first of our annual trips to Scarperia, a small town in the Mugello (area north of Florence) and home to the Renaissance Village. As mentioned in previous posts, the town of Scarperia celebrates the ascension of their vicar (major) to pulbic office for a term of one year. Why such a short term? The vicar actually had to move into the palace and stay their the entire time, isolated and without his family. He conducted the work of the village protected from any unwanted influences that might “corrupt” his tenure. Diotto (the 8th of September) marks this event which began in 1306. That’s right: this is the 707th anniversary!

Our travel plan included several modes of transportation: a walk to the Santa Maria Novella train station, a train to San Piero a Sieve, and then purportedly a public bus to Scarperia. Unfortunately, that last piece of the journey didn’t go as planned, so we quickly ordered a mini-van with driver (mini-van + pulmanini or “small pullman” in Italian) which shuttled us in two trips the last 4 km of our journey.

Scarperia (population, 6000) transforms its historic center (and its local population) into a Renaissance style village. Straw covers the streets and traditional products and crafts are displayed by people in historic dress. Knife-throwing and archery can be experienced, falcons and other birds of prey are ready for a photo op, and most importantly, a traditional meal is available for lunch. Because we arrived a little later than expected, we went straight to lunch with choices ranging from veal, sausage or pork legs (we call the latter “roast leg of beast”), roasted onions, peas, bruschetta, papa al pomodoro (tomato porridge) and sweet cake.

The students were then given a postcard assignment (create two drawings from Scarperia, one to keep and one to trade) and we agreed to meet back at the Palazzo dei Vicari for a tour of the structure and the knife museum associated with it (Scarperia is one of nine major knife-making centers in Italy). Alberto, a native Scarperean, was our guide as we learned about the history of the town and its relationship to Florence. Then, a quick walk to the bus stop for our journey back home. We successfully connected with our train (standing room only) and ended our journey at 6:00.

Next Sunday, we return for the Palio (medieval games)!