Surely the best day out you can have at this time of year has to be the Arezzo antique market. I know I have raved about it before, but it never fails to thrill me. It's the mix of clear blue skies and thin autumn sunshine, the Italian fashionista out in throngs displaying the new seasons ‘look’, the marvelous spectacle of all that junk and religious paraphernalia, as well as a chance to strut my stuff in new skinny jeans and boots.
One of my favourite things on offer is the Ex Voto. The word comes from the Latin, meaning ‘from the vow made’. These votive offerings were traditionally left to a saint or divinity, placed on the altar of a church, expressing a wish or desire or to give thanks for the fulfillment of a prayer.
How we regard illness and healing has changed drastically throughout the ages but our abiding hope that all will be well is wonderfully expressed by the ex voto. They were often left to give thanks after a successful operation, or survival of an accident and, although usually left anonymously, they are a touching mix of both public and personal faith.
Jumbled together in damp cardboard boxes or haphazardly displayed amongst all the other tawdry tat, they glint temptingly. I can never resist them and can spend endless time deliberating over body parts, often returning home with several comforting little packages containing disembodied limbs, eyes and torsos.