Archive | July, 2012

From Cappucino to Vino and More!

19 Jul

This year, we added a few places to our morning routine. Bar Sport Caffe Sandy sits on a corner strategically between the two main piazzas of Cortona. It has two entrances, one facing each piazza, a large outdoor seating and two inside dining areas. The owners, Mirko and Elena, son Nando and wife Pia, are always there to greet with a smile, although they were looking rather serious for this photo! They make great cappuccino, and it’s only 1.1euro, or about $1.30 a cup, and NOT served in a paper cup! Civilized. The name Sandy actually refers to the coffee brand.

One of the great things about cafes in Italy is that they are full service from morning till closing. In the morning, people order their preferred form of coffee…espresso, cappuccino, café latte, etc., often accompanied by a dolce, or pastry, or a panini. They can choose to sit inside or out, or stand at the counter, as they read the paper or talk to friends about the latest news.


Typically at Italian cafes, the drink menu is not limited to coffee. Bar Sport Caffe Sandy has a full bar and a huge variety of liquors, which some people, more often tourists, choose as their morning pick me up. In addition, lighter menus are available for lunch and dinner.












Sometimes after dinner, we stop in for a glass of wine, chat with people we meet, or just enjoy people watching in the piazza. If you stop at Sandy’s for a nightcap, don’t be surprised if a lovely plate of bruscettas accompanies your drink… on the house. All part of the experience, all part of the fun. All in all, Bar Sport Caffe Sandy is a great casual spot, day or night!



Renting in Cortona: Il Roseto

17 Jul

This summer, we rented Il Roseto, the name referring to the lovely garden at the front of the house. The immaculate home is on one floor, no steps, and was comfortably spacious to accommodate all of us.  Besides large rooms and modern baths, one of the best features is the outside patio with a large umbrella table and a covered swing, all surrounded by roses and geraniums.

We found the rental through VRBO: Il Roseto. It is owned by Fernando and Anna, brother and sister, who grew up in the house. They have lovingly restored it, yet kept the charm of wood beams, stone and tile. They are very attentive to the needs of their guests and made us feel very at home in their home.

There are two large bedrooms, each with a queen bed, and one smaller room with bunk beds.


The family room has a sofa that doubles as an incredibly comfortable king size bed. There is also a large dining table, which we used for our computers, and a large TV. WIFI works throughout the house as well as outside.

Across the hall is the breakfast room with another dining table and through it the kitchen, small but functional. And after all, who wants to cook too much when there are so many great and reasonable restaurants in Cortona!

The house has two modern baths, each with shower, and all the hair appliances we needed. Sorry about the towels!

Across the front patio, there is a small structure that houses the washer AND dryer, unusual in Italy. There is also a BBQ grill, which Len mastered.

Finally, the location is great. It is inside the city walls, located not far from the Porta Colonia entrance, making parking easy when we had a car. It is also just a few minutes walk to the main piazzas and everything in town, including the buses to nearby cities. Living right in the heart of a neighborhood is exactly what we like.

A great find, a great stay. Grazie, Fernando and Anna!



5000 Views…Grazie!!!

14 Jul

WOW! Today reached 5000 all time views! Not bad for a one year old site that started as a way to share our travels with family and a few friends. I’m humbled and honored to have so many readers and love all the feedback and comments. Just this week, I heard from a lady in Florida who will be spending a month in Cortona in the fall. She said the blog really helped her, and that is so rewarding for me. So, a huge thank you to all who have read and enjoyed the posts, especially Len and Benita! Stay tuned for more to come. For now, however, although a picture can’t truly capture the beauty, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite vistas of Tuscany. To enlarge, just click on the photo.

Ciao and Grazie!



11 Jul

With deference to Goodnight Moon, my farewell ode to Italia 2012:

Arrivederci salumi, cheese and wine

Arrivederci going to dinner at nine

Arrivederci shopping at the markets in the street

Arrivederci greeting every stranger I meet

Arrivederci pastry and cappuccino in the early morn

Arrivederci basil from a plant freshly torn

Arrivederci best mozzarella I will ever taste

Arrivederci appreciation of life at a slower pace

Arrivederci  sunflowers growing strong and tall

Arrivederci lovely shops, not ever in a mall

Arrivederci gelato –  the source of smiles galore

Arrivederci  flowers adorning every window and door

Arrivederci graceful ladies walking arm in arm

Arrivederci vistas of the land people farm

Arrivederci homemade pasta in every size and shape

Arrivederci beans that only Italians know how to make

Arrivederci tomatoes, bruscetta and cheese

Arrivederci pizza prepared to please

Arrivederci piazza life where people sip vino and talk

Arrivederci evenings’ activities we find on our walk

Arrivederci shoes, scarves and fashion

Arrivederci simplicity filled with passion

Arrivederci antiquities that stretch the soul and mind


Arrivederci art and architecture, every imaginable kind

Arrivederci friends, old and new, from far and near


Arrivederci Cortona, Italia, till we see you next year.

Many thanks to all who made our trip so memorable.

While this marks the “physical” end of our 2012 Italian adventure, it is not the end of the blog… come back for much more!



A Simple Life

2 Jul

In Cortona, shopping for one’s daily needs is simple…no megastores, no supermarkets, and no chain stores. What does exist are merchants who tend to specialize, thus offer great quality at reasonable prices. Meat and poultry are generally purchased at the macelleria, or butcher shop, and there are a few in town. Fish and seafood is less easily available, but the fish monger comes to town once a week and fish is available at the Saturday market.         Bread can be purchased directly from the panettiere, or baker, as well as local venues he supplies early in the morning. His shop is directly behind our house, so just about every night we fall asleep to the scent of fresh bread baking in the ovens.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at a few locations…two stores and one pop-up market only open in the morning, spread out in an area that becomes a restaurant later in the day.


Dry goods, canned goods, deli meats and cheeses, paper and cleaning products, frozen and dairy items, etc., can be found at one of the two markets in town: Molessini and the Mini-Market.

Pharmaceuticals, baby products, healthcare items, etc. are available at the local Pharmacia, and they are easily identifiable as they have a green cross in front.

The Tabacchi or tobacco shops sell newspapers, magazines, bus and train tickets, maps, gum, candy, and an assortment of tourist items and toys.


Bars, cafés, and enotecas offer everything from morning coffee and pastry to light lunch and dinner with full bar, and I mean full.  You can sit in or out.


The best part is that you buy only what you can carry as you walk everywhere. That of course means that everything you eat is fresh, and so delicious. Makes grocery shopping fun!

Not to be left out is the gelato. Ice cream is available at two gelaterias in town…a great way to stroll and end the evening.

How I am dreading “super” markets back home. Super is definitely not always better, just big, big, bigger! Is there a future for “Simplemarkets” in the US? Probably not, but a good reason to travel!



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