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Escape to Cortona!

September 25, 2011

A gaily-decorated Italian train!

Saturday, September 24

Up early this morning, showered, packed, and off to the train station. Soon we were in the hill country of Tuscany, farmland and farmhouses studding an ever-rising landscape. The train made brief stops in Arezzo, home of Guido d’Arezzo, the Benedictine monk who laid the basis for modern musical notation, and at Castiglione, and soon we noticed a town on a hill far, far above the train, and then we stopped in Camucia and knew that the hilltop village was Cortona, our destination.

As soon as we got off, we saw two women walking our way – Lucia and Patrizia, the daughter-mother team who will be our hosts for the following three weeks. Hugs and kisses all around, then into the car, and up the hill to Cortona, and streets that redefined the term “narrow and twisting” forever. Later on that day, Patrizia would take us on the same drive on reverse in perhaps the most hair-raising experience of our trip so far.

Above, Patrizia and Peggy in front of our apartment.

We have the bottom floor of the building.

The living room.

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The very well-equipped kitchen (w/ dishwasher!).

The bedroom.

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The very well-equipped bathroom, with washing machine.

The house itself is at the highest part of the town, but the hill continues behind, and we climbed a short path to the Santa Margherita Basilica. Inside, the church is beautifully decorated, but photos are not allowed and tourists are requested not to enter during services.

Even further up, at the pinnacle of Cortona’s aerie, is the Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, named for the architect who built it at the request of the Medicis.

As you might expect for a hilltop fort, you can see for miles in every direction.

Unfortunately, a haze covering the valley hid much of the detail in the view from the camera.

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Two views of the fort courtyard.

I mentioned earlier a trip back down to Camucia with Patrizia. We went grocery shopping, and stocked up on wine at a local wine store. To Peggy’s consternation, Patrizia recommended a couple of box wines, and the store provided taste samples. (I should mention that Patrizia, our driver, didn’t actually drink the samples she was holding. I did, though.)

The groceries and the wine were combined for our first meal in our new abode – salad by Peggy, spaghetti by me, and vino rosso di tavola by the good offices of BagInBox. Buona Sera!

Sunday, September 25

Today we slept in , and then ventured down to see some of Cortona. This view of the countryside below us is literally a few feet from our front door. The structure at lower right is part of the original Etruscan wall that surrounded the town, back in the early B.C., much of which still remains.

Narrow and twisting. Steep, narrow, and twisting.

Sunday flea market at the Piazza Signorelli.

The Piazza della Republica, the commercial center of town.

Al fresco dining on Via Nazionale, the main drag.

First Social Security, then Medicare, and then posters like this all over the place. Pretty damn scary.

The fountain at the Piazza Francois Mitterand.

Day’s end from Via Porta Montanina (our street). Ciao.


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  1. Alyssa permalink

    It looks beautiful–a true Tuscan getaway! And hopefully you’ll avoid the billion or so turistas from Florence? I must say, I think you should check out the Socialist fiesta–they’re offering a free buffet, after all.

  2. Nancy permalink

    I am certainly enjoying your journey vicariously. Bill, you definitely can have a second ( or third?) career as a blogger/writer!

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