Let me explain our Tuscan home base in Cortona. Cortona is not a very big town, but with the publishing of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ as well as the production of the movie, which was set in Cortona, it received quite a bit of fame. Several Americans and other foreigners now have second homes scattered about the area. We stayed in one of these homes; owned by a professor from San Francisco. This lady bought a run down place in the old Etruscan walls of the city. These walls are about 2,000 years old and enclose the city, which is on top of a hill. It used to be an easily defendable fortress and the entire region of Tuscany has a fascinating wealth of cultural and political history.
Now, the home itself consisted of four different levels. On the first level, there was a cave-like sitting room, which had a bench-like soda just inside the door. This room was really just like a giant coatroom, dimly lit and hardly ever used. The next level had a spacious kitchen that had been completely modernized by the owner. This level also had a restroom and a terrace with a great view over the Tuscan countryside. Because we were up high on the hill, we were able to see out over vineyards and farms, all the way towards a large lake and some mountains in the distance. Almost every night for four nights, we had happy hour with local wines on that patio. The third floor consisted of the master bedroom and another restroom. Narrow sets of stairs led from level to level; it almost isn’t fair to call the levels complete floors because each was so small and only consisted of one large room. The top level was my very own space. There was a large pull out couch with a big screen TV, then a loft accessible by a ladder with 2 single beds. There was also a large window (actually a door, but with no patio) that allowed me to see the beautiful countryside outside every morning and night.
We ventured outside our awesome house the first day to wander around the city of Cortona and get a feel for what the town had to offer. Since Cortona is not very large, we were able to get everywhere on foot. We started out by seeing an old church then continuing through some lovely gardens and a path that offered scenic vistas. The walk was about a kilometer long and led to the city’s only sporting facilities. There were 2 well-kept red clay courts that I would have loved to play on, but I had no hitting partner. My mom and Laura did not want to play. Then we walked back and into the center of the town. We visited the Cathedral, and another church that had relics from St. Francis of Assisi, such as his tunic. The whole town is very quaint and has preserved a lot of its Medieval Structure. We had lunch in a café by our house; the lady who owned it made the best homemade lasagna I have ever tasted, absolutely delicious! After lunch, my mom and Laura headed down the hill to get groceries and I sat in my room and watched the rest of ‘Dear John’ and read a book until they returned.
Soon after they got back we went to the Etruscan Museum in Cortona and saw all of the ancient artifacts that had been discovered in the area around the town. The museum was huge! It included thousands upon thousands of carefully crafted artifacts and detailed remnants of an ancient civilization. We examined everything closely for about the first hour, and then paced a bit faster for the second hour in the museum. After visiting the museum, we enjoyed another delicious Italian dinner; this time home made. We had large noodles, pesto sauce, and shrimp with local wine from Antigo Grieppo. We all enjoyed getting to see the town of Cortona; although small, it was laced with history and packed with cute shops and good food.