Under the Tuscan Sun on a cloudy day …
About an hour and a half drive from Boggioli, atop a hill, is the medieval village of Cortona. The village dates back to at least 400 years BC.
We arrived in Cortona around 1:00 pm after a beautiful drive past Arezzo. We found a parking lot and took the escalator and paths up to the village. Despite the infamy thrust upon it by the book and movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” the village is truly a gem in its own right. The view over the valley is breathtaking but the beauty in the village lies in walking the streets. With the curvature of the narrow streets you only have to take a few steps and the entire vista changes.
The top of the path brought us into town at the Piazza Garibaldi. From there we made our way to Piazza Republica which is dominated by the impressive Palazzo Comunale. With the town being built on the top of a hill many of the “sidestreets” are actually stairways up to the next level.
Passing through one of the arches of the Palazzo and down the street we found our lunch spot, La Bucaccia, which was recommended by our guide book. We were not disappointed. On the side of the narrow street were 3 tables, one of which was unoccupied. While the interior of the restaurant looked very inviting as well, we chose the remaining table outside. They started by bringing us a small serving of a wonderful combination cheese to accompany some crackers. We ordered bruschetta which had several different toppings (and was absolutely delicious). The bruschetta was followed by Ribollita (a “reboiled soup with bread crumbs) which is a traditional Tuscan soup but one we had not yet tried. This lunch just kept getting better and better. For the Primi Susan had a rigatoni stuffed with ricotta and spinach with a meat sauce and I had pasta with wild boar sauce. Both were absolutely delicious. All of this was accompanied by a very nice bottle of Vermentino. This was one meal that was a testament to guidebooks being right on the mark with their recommendations.
After lunch we spent some time just wandering the streets and taking countless photos. While there were a lot of tourists it was nowhere near as crowded as some places like Florence or San Gimignano and it was actually quite relaxing to stroll around and occasionally sit on a bench. Of course when we found ourselves back on a bench in the Piazza Republica we just had to have some gelato while we watched the other tourists (and a wedding party) pass us by.
It is no wonder that Frances Mayes, who wrote Under the Tuscan Sun, fell in love with Cortona.
All too soon it was time to make our way back to the car for the drive home. The return trip was a little faster as we took the A1 (speed limit 120 kph) for part of the way.
While we were relaxing before dinner Keith stopped by with a guide book to Venice and details on their favorite restaurant. I can simply not overstate how wonderful Keith and Helen have been as our hosts in Tuscany.