Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Day in Cortona

Before I start our day I need to return to last night.  We finished posting our blogs while sitting on the cold steps of the city hall about 6:30 pm.   They don’t serve dinner until after 7:30 pm so we had some time to walk around.  Suddenly, the American friends from the train approached us; they wanted to know if we’d like to have dinner with them. 
  He said that “they needed some new stories and had been watching us before deciding to approach and invite us to join them.”   We finally introduced ourselves to each other.  Don and Jan are from Spokane, Washington.  They’ve been traveling a month at a time for a number of years now.  They started this trip in Milano and will end it with a cruise around the tip of Italy including some stops in Sicily.  
We walked to the restaurant that they had chosen earlier because it was connected to their B&B and it was reasonable so we agreed to eat there.  But we still had time so we walked to the Duomo and enjoyed the view over the valley.  Far below was a cemetery that you’ll see in the slideshow.  Returning to the restaurant we enjoyed sharing a meal and travel stories with a wonderful couple.  The evening flew and it was after 9:00 pm before we bid them goodbye and headed towards our apartment.  A side story was shared about their arrival in town on the bus earlier in the day:  the maps they had from google were not the same as the streets they were finding.  They walked up and down the steep streets for over an hour, backpack suitcases on their backs, before they finally gave up and found a lady with a cell phone who called their hotel for them.  The staff told them to go to Piazza Garibaldi and they came to pick them up from there.  We were so fortunate that Simone had brought us to the apartment or we might have had the same problem!
We slept well in our apartment; very quiet but we missed the bells of St. Catherine in Siena.  I actually slept until 9 am; very late for me.  Mary was up for hours before me.  Ate our breakfast in the apartment with food that we purchased yesterday afternoon in the local grocery store.  By 10:30 am…that magical time that happens without planning each day…we left on our day’s journey.
Our first goal was to locate the bus station for tomorrow morning for our trip back to the train.  It is a short walk and all downhill.  Then we started our walk around the outside of the city walls towards Piazza Garibaldi; this is the main entrance to the old town. 
Arriving at the entrance we then started working on our second goal:  walking to Bramasole, the Tuscany home of the author Frances Mayes.  I’ve driven there several times  but this was the first time that I have walked to see the outside of her home.  It helped that I’d seen it before because it is not on the maps.  She is a very private citizen in Cortona.   We first visited the beautiful little church called Chiesa di San Domenica and then continued on the level gravel road towards the city park. 
We kept watching for signs for the tennis courts and actually discovered it was a tennis school when we passed it.  But, I knew we were then on the correct road.  From that point on it was a hard surface but very narrow road that rose ever so slightly uphill for the next half hour.   Shaded by the stately cypress trees all along the road with regular stops to enjoy the views of the valley below.  For a good period of time we had a view of the Lake at Castiglion de Lago off in the distance.
I spotted the church up on the top of the hill and told Mary that I was sure it was below that spot so we continued our walk.  Suddenly I knew we’d arrived.  But, the house itself was completely incased in plastic and scaffolding; they are doing an extensive remodel or maybe just repairs!   The one thing that gave me assurance that we’d arrived was the small della robba style statue of the Virgin in a small niche on the wall surrounding her home.  Mary found even more proof when we discovered the Building Permit that gave the author’s name and the address of the property as Bramasole.  
Soon we were headed back into town; a faster walk that only took us about half an hour.  Downhill half the way and then level for the last half.  An interesting note is that we walked past a lady on our way out that Mary is sure was Frances herself.  She greeted us with the familiar Italian Buon giorno; and we returned the greeting as we passed.  Who knows!   But it is well known that she regularly walks into town for coffee in the morning at Bar Signorelli.
Back into town after a stop at the local public toilette in the park where we met two couples from Mission Viejo in Orange County California; they were walking into town for the day.  We gave them some directions and one of our maps of the town. 
Our third quest for the day was a cup of Cappuccino at the Bar Signorelli and some quick internet time.  Then it was back to the apartment to write our blogs for the day; it’s only a two minute walk from the center to our apartment.  Uphill to the center and downhill to the apartment.   We will return to post them soon and enjoy a visit to see the inside of the Duomo.  We are going to cook our dinner tonight in the apartment with food we purchased at the market yesterday.   Tomorrow is a travel day to Assisi where we spend the next three days for the celebration of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th that lasts for three days.  We’ve heard that Pope Francis will be there on the feast day!  Stay tuned for more fun!
Hope you enjoy the slideshow:

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