Liberty at last! We have been imprisoned in Il Palazzo dei Vicari, finally freed a day and a half ago. The following is an account of what transpired, which I will try my best to relate—although my hands still shake as I type the words.
After we had purchased gifts at L’Artigiano Scarperia and returned to spend the night again at Il Poggio, we discussed the possibilities for the following day. Over dinner Keith and I agreed to go to the medieval village of Sant’Agata and then return to Scarperia to see its fourteenth century palace and neighboring Museum of Cutting Tools. (Knives have never been a big deal with me—although I had a nice Buck years ago that I used to clean a trout I caught at Fish Lake, Utah—but guys seem to have special place in their heart for them.) We planned to then leave the area and head toward Pisa and Savona.
In the morning we found Sant’Agata and its ancient (ca.984) Romanesque church in the heart of town. Two special features were a marble baptismal font from the twelfth century, and a fifteenth century wooden figure of Christ by Francesco di Simone Ferrucci. Adding to the experience, we discovered the church had two small museums: one devoted to archeological artifacts from the region, and one with religious art and relics. Christina, the curator, was warm, inviting, and informative, and immensely proud of all under her
charge. Mingling with the locals at an espresso bar in the square opposite the church was the perfect cap for our visit.
Little did we know it would be our last taste of freedom for two long weeks …
The Palazzo dei Vicari or “Vicar’s Palace” was built for defensive reasons along the main approach road to
Florence. Its frescoes painted by artists in Ghirlandaio’s workshop, terra cotta coats of arms by artisans of Della Robbia, and the clock tower by Brunelleschi are important features that draw many visitors each year. If you take a tour, not only can you view rooms where historical archives are located, but you also can gain access to a passageway that leads to the façade’s merlons.
And that’s where we were kidnapped.
(Church at Sant’Agata: easily found on any regional map. Il Palazzo dei Vicari, Il Museo dei Ferri Taglienti. Summer hours June 1 to September 30: Wed-Fri 3:30-7:30; Sat, Sun, holidays 10 -1 and 3:30-7:30. Tour info: www.prolocoscarperia.it )