I love the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, a film based on Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir of the same name. So I decided to make my second Tuscany stop Cortona, the location of the movie, and the small Italian village where France Mayes still resides.
Pulling into the train station late afternoon, I shared a cab up the winding hill with a couple of girls, possibly Spanish, but who knows, we didn’t say much past ‘Hey wanna share a cab?’. Our driver pointed out various historical sites, and before I knew it we were driving under the arched wall of Cortona onto its tiny cobbled streets. I had to wait an hour outside the apartment owner’s restaurant, but it was worth it. When he finally turned up and walked me to Locanda pane e vino I was in love with my beautiful apartment. On the ground floor of an old watch tower, decorated to perfection, I could’ve moved in and never left. Guests even had use of a ‘secret garden’, hidden away upstairs on top of the neighbouring building.
Suddenly feeling lazy after a day of travel, I popped out for a few snacks from the Spar supermarket and spent the evening taking advantage of the free wifi, doing some much needed exercise on the lounge floor and watching athletics on tv. See, I know how to have a good time!
Breakfast and a coffee in the ‘secret garden’ to kickstart the day, I finally got myself preened and primed, ready to explore. First stop, to purchase a ticket to one of the photography exhibitions that was showing in the town, I continued on for a peek around the Saturday market full of delicious bread and cheese, and managed to extract myself without a purchase. On to the photography exhibition, my mind was back in the piazza with the bread and cheese so I gave up and decided lunch was a good idea.
And it indeed turned out to be a good idea, bruschetta heaven and a salad to make myself feel healthy, Italians have perfected the art of good food. After lunch I decided to perfect the art of a siesta, exhausted after all that eating, but I made up for the laziness later in the afternoon when I decided it would be a good idea to walk to the hilltop of Cortona to view the fortress. Slight wrong turn en route, I ended up just a wee bit off track, and finally 40 minutes later and a whole lot sweatier I made it to the top, to enjoy the magical view.
That evening I dined in the apartment owners restaurant, Taverna pane e vino, housed in the old cellars of a 14th century building, it was clearly a very popular spot to eat for tourists and locals alike. Great food and young, hip waitors, I recommend adding it to your list of places to eat if you visit. I also recommend skipping dessert at the restaurant and instead making your way down one of the cobbled streets to the sugary wonderland that is Cocoa, owned by slightly quirky but super friendly local Alessio. I discovered this little store when I was craving some hot chocolate, and Google turned up an American girls blog of her time in Cortona, and her frequent visits to Alessio. So I decided to pay a visit. Molto bene!
A quick spin around the town the next morning, and I was packed and ready to make a move towards Napoli. Just one more sleep until I was no longer a solo traveller, excitement!! After a long day of train travel, I finally pulled into Napoli train station late afternoon. With a face of steel, and a convincing look of a complete chip on my shoulder to keep the local sleazy men at bay, I stepped out into the street in search of my hotel. A few curse words towards said men, and 15 minutes later I arrived at my hotel. Home sweet home for the night. I’m sure I slept with a smile on my face, knowing the next morning I’d be heading back to my beloved Amalfi coast.