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Cortona V

October 8, 2011

Pasquale’s grapes, put aside for vinsanto.

Wednesday, October 5</strong

Patrizia, after hearing that we had walked to the Celle on Monday, insisted on driving us back to the monastery to show us the little room where Frances of Asissi had slept on his visits there. The woman on the right is Ileana, Patrizia’s all-around helper.

She then drove us to the church of Santa Maria Nuova, which you can see in the September 28 post of Cortona III. Patrizia’s daughter Lucia was married there.

From there we drove down to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio. I only wish I had a photo of the church as viewed from above. It’s about a third of the way down from Cortona to Camucia, and the cross shape of the building, uncommon in these parts, is dramatically revealed.

The interior of the church. Large canvases depicting incidents in the Bible or of the Catholic doctrine are displayed on either wall.

Our last stop was a small truck farm run by a friend of Patrizia’s, as almost everybody in Cortona seems to be. She jumps out of the car, runs around the gate and shouts,”Pasquale! Pasquale!”
An old gentleman pops up from the lower end of the property and Patrizia just says “Insalate!” With that he ducks out of sight and shows up with a red bucket, which he proceeds to stuff with greens from everywhere in his garden. “You want this? This?”

Then we go into his garage/storeroom, where we get tomatoes, green beans, and garlic. In total enough to feed us for about a week, for €2.50.

Thursday, October 6

A side trip to Siena. We had wanted to step outside of the relatively narrow circumference of Cortona, and Lucia had graciously drawn up an itinerary with departure and arrival times of every step of the way, so off we went. Above, the Siena railway station.

From there to the bus, and then to a stop on Via Baldessare Peruzzi, then up three or four flights of escalators, and we found ourselves at the Piazza San Francesco, and the church of the same name. Again, no photos. This is a huge worship space, as big inside as it seems outside. The visitor is overtaken on entrance with a sense of quietude and a feeling of reverence.

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Once outside, we made our way to the town square area, Il Campo. En route, we encountered throngs of tourists, whom I love, for indeed I myself am a tourist.

Strolling down the Via di Citta, we catch our first glimpse of Il Campo through Via San Pietro.

The City Tower, or Torre del Mangia, a bell tower attached to the City Hall, and the focal point of Il Campo.

My camera can’t capture the panorama of Il Campo, but this should give you an idea. This is where twice a year the horse race known as the Palio is run, sponsored by the city’s seventeen highly competitve districts, or contrades.

The so-called Fountain of Joy (Fonte Gaia). One cannot help wondering whether the ecology of a city would be adversely affected if its pigeon population were completely annihilated. Maybe not, you know?

Yet more of my fellow tourists, who are just like me, except that I don’t wear dark glasses and have a camera strung around my neck and travel in hordes.

We were happy to snag a Campo-side table at Nannini, where Peggy had a traditional bread salad and I had a pizza Napoli, featuring capers and anchovies, both washed down with half-liters of Ichnusa beer.

I don’t know what this ring, attached to one of the posts in front of City Hall, is for, but it was fascinating, and I’d like to hear more about it.

Leaving Il Campo, we made our way down Via d. Pellegrini to Piazza San Giovanni, where we saw the Baptistery, which is at the back of…

…the Duomo, maybe the best-looking church I’ve seen in Italy, and maybe in Europe, or even the universe.

Our time in Siena was growing short, but on the way back to the station we saw the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine from a bridge a few blocks away.

Yes, in the hills there are buildings in planes stacked one upon another.

And on our last stop before the train station, the church of San Domenico, with the Duomo in the distance. From Siena we rode to Chiusi, changed trains to Camucia, and were back in Cortona by 8:30.

Friday, October 7

Today was a rare cloudy and cool day in Cortona, with a fierce but short shower in the morning. We took this time to visit the Etruscan Museum on Piazza Signorelli.

Cortona and the surrounding region have a long, long history, going back to the seventh century B.C. The museum has artifacts from excavations in the area that trace its development and its history from an Etruscan settlement through its membership in the Roman Empire.


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One Comment
  1. Alyssa permalink

    Thank goodness you found a few more tourists. I wouldn’t want you to feel like a native or anything…Siena looks great! As does the local farmer operation–what a wonderful way to do your shopping.

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