I've been so remiss about finishing up this report of Italy.........but real life seems to have put it on the back burner for a bit. But I've got a few more cities to write about AND the women's retreat that began it all......
So............stay with me and I promise I will get it finished!!!
Here's a lil slice of heaven that I often take myself back to...to chill!!
Got back from Cortona about 7pm and had to run to piazza to meet Paola, the cab driver who was picking me and about 8 others up to make the drive to Anne and Pino's farmhouse up on the mountain. They were so sweet to cook for us and make us feel like we were part of a real Italian family. There was so much food and lots of stories and laughter. With dots and dashes of Italain history and culture and folklore thrown in... by ms. anne, who is a master of facts about her country. She is American but met her sweet Pino, while visiting Italy as a young girl..........and never went back!
a fritata of some sort! I never really knew anything we were eating the whole time I was in Italy, unless it was pasta, of course! This was delish!
fantastic homemade cheese
Anne, her son and Pino- her husband, cooking their lil hearts out for us! Pino fried fresh anchovies ....you cannot believe how good fresh anchovies are!!!
I didn't even get pics of the main meal....cuz we were so busy eating it!
Salute.....cheers....clink,clink.....to a very lovely family and gracious hosts!
On October 17, Andrea and I set off to Cortona...home of the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun!
We walked to the bus stop to catch the local bus...
to the train station..
It was a beautiful day and the train ride was exhilarating,...beautiful landscapes rushing past our train window filled with pretty acreage of infinity trees, green grasses and gorgeous farmhouses.
arrived in Cortono an hour and forty minutes later but not buses or taxis' in sight. we simultaneously looked at each other and said, No problem...let's just walk to town. Ugh. Another hour later, up up up and I mean really UP....we walked and walked. I had to stop several times just to breathe...did I mention that it was straight up hill?
finally, I called in the "Bus Team" and before we knew it, a bus on its way to pick up some school kids, picked us up and took us the last 10 minutes into town. I could not have done those last 10 minutes. It was tough. But as we rounded a bldg to come into town, first thing we saw was this..
A Wednesday afternoon and the beautiful wedding party.,.,with every girl in that wedding party wearing THE most beautiful shoes ever!!
After downing several bottles of water and sitting for a bit, we, of course, stopped at the first cute shop we came to..
before stopping at the cutest pizzaria for lunch. A typical Italian cafe with seating inside and out
we ate the pizza so fast that I didn't get a pic but i did get this image of a dessert they just brought to us. They took leftover pastry from the morning, croissants filled with cream, and drizzled it with pomegranite seeds and syrup! Yum.
then, off to the piazza where we found a beautiful view..
after talking to some ladies in town, who were painting pictures of the scenery
they assured us that it was only a short walk to Bramasole....the house that Frances Mayes's, who is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, lives in and was also the house that Diane Lane lived in as her "fixer upper". So we took off down a tree lined lane, thru a park, and here we go again...up up up more steep roads and hills. 45 minutes later, we finally got to the house, with sore knees and feet and lungs that could hardly take one more deep breath!
the gardens at Bramasole
pic from actual movie when Lane first found Bramasole
the landscape seen on our walk to the house
As soon as we caught our breaths yet again....we had to hightail it back down the hills to get back to train station in time for our train back. I had to get back to Assisi in time for a dinner invitation to Anne's farmhouse that night!
Up and off to church on this day to Chiesa Nuova...
(these pics are courtesy of Wikipedia because as I've said so many times, no one is allowed to take pics inside these churches)
As I'm following the signs to the church....no not to a hotel or to the toilet or even to St. Clares church, but to Chiesa Nuova.....I finally found an Italian who was happy to let me take his pic.
A distinguished looking gentleman, or so I thought....until I was informed that this is the crazy man in town!! Literally, crazy!! and I found him...hahahahaha....!
Mass at this church was wonderful...a small, simple service compared to the pomp and circumstance of the big, huge churches...was cathartic.
After church, while having a slice of pizza and a beer at an outside table on the outskirts of town, I decided to just start walking...with the goal of getting to Rocco Maggiore.....just walk until I get there or until I got too tired!
I begin the walk there, going towards the gates of the city where I saw so many beautiful sites...
scenes right outside the gates of town....altho, I did find out that once you see this....
you really ought to re-think just how far you really want to walk!! Believe me, the roads only get steeper and longer once you go past this sign!!
Let me show you exactly where I'm walking to from below!
a military castle that has a 360 degree view of the city below
It took me about an hour to walk up to the top, stopping at time to bask in the glory of these views.
About 1/2 way there....
and finally.....to the top!
and the view from the top down to the town...
It was a glorious afternoon of beauty. I took many moments to just appreciate where I was and what I was doing.....making it all a precious memory.
After last night at Franca's and the trip to Siena, I needed rest. So...rest, I did. Saturday was raining and a perfect day to stay in....sleep a little later than usual, catch up on my note taking....I even made myself some scrambled eggs. Been forever since I'd had eggs!! By early afternoon, I made my way over to the lil B&B that was close to apt to get online. I found this place a week or so ago and fell in love with "grandma"! It's a family run hotel/restaurant and if you buy a cappucino or a glass of wine, they have no problem with you using their wi-fi. But once I got to know them and could communicate thru hand gestures, a little bit of Italian and hugs and kisses....we became best friends. Often, I would sit on the bench outside the lil pizzaria and wait for grandma to arrive. She came every single day to greet the patrons and order her great grandsons around, who were the waiters. Every day, they would walk her to the cafe, with her arms wrapped in both boy's arms. These boys were prolly 17-18. They would laugh and laugh and she would talk about their clothes and their hair......but there was so much love and respect there. I actually loved this part of the day when I went by there. Often, she would sit with me out on the bench and talk and talk and talk and I would nod my head, not understanding anything she said, but it didn't matter. I acted like I knew and that was all she really needed. I'm sick that I didn't get a picture of her, or her and I, or even just the lil cafe.
(pics courtesy of trip advisor)
Nor did I make the time to go by and tell her goodbye before I left, which makes me sick as well...but I do have their email link and have sent her a note. Hopefully, one of her grandsons will read it to her.
This was the last thing we ate together.....she just brought it to me to taste. Still have no idea what it was but man, oh man.........was it ever good!!
Spent the rest of the afternoon just walking thru the town, still finding new things that I hadn't seen before. Andrea and I went to LaLanterna, http://www.lalanternaristorantepizzeria.it/.. for dinner and it was such a nice evening. Amazing how quickly we connected and learned the things we had in common........execpt our political views! But immediately, we decided to not mention anything political at all and chose to just wait till the election to call each other the day after!
Caprese salad and tiramisu..........perfecto combo!