Cortona-the Hollywood star that kept her soul

Cortona Italy-18

Despite Hol­ly­wood suc­cess with Under the Tus­can Sun in 2003,  “Cor­tona kept its soul: there is noth­ing forced or false about the rhythms of life here.” – Tus­canynowand­more

Cortona Italy-1

Cor­tona is in Tus­cany, 212 km from Rome, and 63 from Siena.

I arrived in Cor­tona on a very hot May-day with 32°C.  I was dri­ving up the hill to reach the city. It has an ele­va­tion of 600m (2,000 ft) and embraces a view of the whole of the Valdichi­ana. I passed by the Renais­sance church of Santa Maria delle Gra­zie al Cal­ci­naio and I parked imme­di­ately to take a bet­ter look. 

Cortona Italy-20

Santa Maria delle Gra­zie is reign­ing there with the val­ley at its feet, impas­sive to infinite glimpses of time. I stopped on the side of the road to take pho­tos and one Ital­ian dri­ving a new Mer­cedes stopped to tell me e “you are a bad girl“. Maybe bad, but pho­tos were at leas good.

eat & drink cortona  on Via nazionale

Cor­tona was wait­ing full of peo­ple sit­ting at its tables, on Via Nazionale, its only flat street, as it was lunch time, there­fore siesta time.

con calma

An expres­sion I often heard in Italy and it just says so much about the Ital­ian life style is „con calma“…which means „with­out a hurry, take it easy, enjoy“…They say: let’s have a din­ner con calma, let’s drink a glass of wine con calma. So every­one seemed to have under­stood that about Ital­ian cul­ture and they were eat­ing con calma their pro­sciutto crudo with rucola, pasta a pomodoro, panini with mush­rooms, buf­falo cheese and fresh ham and many of them were very happy only with an ice-cream. I tried a huge panino with pro­sciutto, fresh pecorino cheese and hot sauce…so much for my veg­e­tar­ian moments .. and then an ice-cream with cheese cake and fon­dante.

I talk about food, yes I do, because Italy is so much about food and fla­vors. It wouldn’t be Italy if you didn’t gain 3 kilo in one week and could resist eat­ing fresh bread, pasta or any­thing else that revolves around cere­als. If you plan to resist carbs in Italy, bet­ter choose some other des­ti­na­tion.

Cor­tona is lead­ing you with kind­ness and patience on its nar­row, steep streets. As always, the first time I see a place I just let my shoes guide me, I want to have the first impres­sion and I do not take a guided tour. All I do, is stop in front of the fist sou­venir shop that comes my way, and take a look at a cal­en­dar with pic­tures of the place. I can see in there what they love to show case the most and I pick what I like to see from there. It’s a start…but the best part is the sights you dis­cover by indulging your legs to take you where your senses want.

views of cortona

One of my favorite part of Cor­tona was the view from the bas­tion of Fortezza Medicea Gir­i­falco, across hills and farm­land to Lake Trasi­meno, in Umbria and the plains of the Valdichi­ana.

Italy’s fourth-largest inland lake, Trasi­meno saw one of the blood­i­est bat­tles of ancient times, in 217 BC, when the Carthaginian armies of Han­ni­bal ambushed the Romans and killed maybe 15,000 of them on the lake’s north­ern shore (source:tus­canynowand­more).

The sec­ond best in my eyes was the Church of San Francesco. I am not the biggest fun of reli­gious build­ings. And I do not think I would vol­un­teer for a churches tour of Europe. But, every now and then, there is this church I set foot in, which has good vibes, and makes me take one step fur­ther into its depth, and one more and another. And only a church that has a good energy, holy, cre­ative can have me visit it from door to altar. San Francesco in Cor­tona, and the Sant Antimo Abbey in Val D’Orcia are one of those.

Le Celle

What I have missed, but strongly advise you to see are Le Celle (The Cells), this Fran­cis­can her­mitage which is just five kilo­me­tres from Cor­tona at the feet of Mount Sant’Egidio. In 1211 St Fran­cis along with a few of his fol­low­ers built the first nine cells of the her­mitage and the place has taken the name of Celle ever since (cor­ton­aguide). Advis­able would be to avoid hot days, as the road to the cells is on foot only and it is not flat. The con­vent is able to offer lodg­ings to those con­tem­plat­ing a voca­tional life and who are will­ing to take part in all of the community’s activ­i­ties.

Life offers you a thou­sands chances….All you have to do is take one.

author Frances Mayes, Under the Tus­can Sun


And so it looks when you have no assis­tant, friends, fans or strangers approach­ing you. You end up self­i­ing your­self.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Susana says:

    This is a very good sug­ges­tions par­tic­u­larly to those new to blo­gos­phere, short and exact info…
    Thanks for shar­ing this one. A must read post.

    1. Thank you. Every feed­back I get is so reward­ing. Enjoy your trav­els!

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