Archive | September, 2013

Ristorante IL CACCIATORE, Cortona

20 Sep

Since it’s Friday, I was thinking about where I’d like to have dinner tonight. A simple choice would be Ristorante IL CACCIATORE, except for the fact that it is in Cortona and we are in Chicago. Oh, well, I can still think about what we might order after receiving a warm welcome from Alessandro, owner and always visible greeter.


The entrance to the two-story restaurant is on Via Roma, and you can choose indoor or limited outdoor seating. According to its website, “It was the first restaurant opened in the medieval town of Cortona, around 1904.” The word cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, and the restaurant serves typical Tuscan dishes and “specialities including grilled meat chianina, ribollita and pici with meat sauce,” a local pasta favorite.


There’s an ample selection of wines to choose from, and the house wine is fine as well.


The food is very good, and the atmosphere and staff are always warm and inviting.

Whether we stop in for pizza and a tomato salad

IMG_4987or enjoy a leisurely dinner, there is always a nice variety to choose from.

Tonight, perhaps we’d start with an antipasto of cheeses and freshly sliced meats…

IMG_0001or order pici with speck and tomatoes.

IMG_0637After, we’d choose sliced steak with rosemary

IMG_0004or delicious roasted chicken, (my favorite!)

IMG_0002some hot off-the-grill veggies

IMG_0639and of course, wonderful roasted potatoes!

IMG_0003So simple, so delicious.

And to top off a most satisfying dinner, why not a little tiramisu? (It’s so much better in Italy!)


All in a night’s work, but then someone gets to do it. Just wish it could be us tonight!

Whether it’s just the two of us, or we are part of a large group, Ristorante IL CACCIATORE is one of our favorite go-to restaurants in Cortona.



Il Pozzo

14 Sep

One of the things that makes Cortona unusual is the amount of art one can see in this lovely town. Two incredible museums, as well as many churches, are home to magnificent art and/or artifacts. Surely these are not to be missed.

But once you fall in love with the town, how can you take a piece of it home? That’s easy. Visit Il Pozzo.


Il Pozzo, meaning the well, is located just off the busy Via Nazionale. It doesn’t take long to get caught up in the music and art that fill the senses before even entering the gallery.


And while wonderful art treasures await, so does an unexpected architectural journey.

Meet Ivan, proprietor with his wife Loriana. Ivan is as happy to show you around the building and share its history as he is finding the right treasure for you to take home. He also speaks English quite well!


Paraphrasing and borrowing from their website description,

The voices of the busy Via Nazionale seem centuries of history away…


Visitors can contemplate the medieval ambiance uncovered two levels below the modern-day street, tastefully returned to the light with its ancient aspect and functionality.


One should not miss the unique well “ad ampolla” from which the Gallery “Il Pozzo” takes its name and in which there are traces of the ancient knowledge and architectural skill of the Etruscans ancestors’ civilization.


Here, nothing is left to happenstance and every wall, every nook and every shelf becomes a frame for an interesting detail, underlining the value of the artistic and artisan objects displayed.


The attention and interest of the visitor is fed with the variety of the paintings, photographs, prints, books, engravings, ceramics,


and artisan crafts such as leather-covered books, hand crafted papers, jewels and objects in glass


IMG_0056which are an integral part of the history and customs of Tuscany.


The Gallery “Il Pozzo” can be summed up as an encounter between Cortona and the visitor.


That said, it seems to correspond to the high level of historic and artistic tradition of the homeland of Signorelli, of Pietro Berrettini and of Gino Severini.


Everything here seems to court the taste and artistic sensibilities of the refined tourist of the new century.


This past summer, we found an original watercolor that seemed to have our name on it. Wonderful art has that quality – it somehow speaks to its eventual owner.  Lucky for us, we brought some of ancient Cortona back to our home through this beautiful work by Allesandro Bulli.  Not a day goes by that we don’t enjoy looking at it and reliving a story.


For us, this vividly captures many of our daily stops: morning cappuccino at a cafe, a local enoteca, the grocery store, a bit of the two main piazzas, a restaurant overlooking the historic center, etc.

Whether you are just browsing or looking for something special to purchase, there is never any pressure at Il Pozzo. If you do find something for yourself or for a gift, Ivan will carefully and beautifully prepare it for its journey home.



And, of course, prepare you an espresso while you wait!


So be sure to put Il Pozzo on your list of places to visit in Cortona, and tell Ivan and Loriana that Judy sent you. Your visit will be fun and fabulous, and give you the opportunity to take a little piece of Cortona home with you too. We’re so happy we did!



Remembering Paco – One Year Later

5 Sep

It’s been one year since our dog and friend Paco died peacefully in my arms. Paco never made it to Cortona, although he would have found many companions as everyone seems to have a dog!  And as Len often laments, “The dogs speak better Italian than I do!”

In memory of Paco, I am reposting what I wrote last year and adding a few pictures.


Paco had been failing this last week and letting us know it was his time to go. We were fortunate to have had him nearly 17 years, almost 119 in human years. Unlike humans, however, he never lost his puppy look. Rarely could a person pass without commenting what a darling puppy he was.

Paco was born in Marble Falls, Texas, in late 1995. A lady who worked at a Drexel Heritage furniture store found him in a field (covered in burrs) and didn’t know what to do with him. She had named him Drexel. Len and I were supposed to be playing golf, but it was pouring outside and the courses were closed. Not much else to do in Marble Falls besides golf, so we wandered into the store.

The cute little black puppy followed me around the store and we offered to take him home. Benita was not quite three and we were thinking about getting a dog anyway. Why not this one, a homeless mutt? 


We changed his name to Paco. None of us know where the name came from but it certainly fit him better than Drexel. Ironic thing is, I bought a Drexel Heritage sofa this week.

The rest is history. Paco was an easy dog and just about everyone he met couldn’t help but like him…including my Mom, who really wasn’t much of a dog person. I guess it’s just hard to resist a dog with a perpetual puppy face, a snaggle tooth, and jet black fur that felt like mink.


My friend Glenys recently told me about a book written from a dog’s perspective. The dog is nearly Paco’s age, failing and not wanting x-rays, tests, and treatments –  just wanting his beloved owner to know it’s ok to let him die peacefully with dignity.

Paco had that look in his eyes as I held his head in my hands.  It was his time…we both knew. Farewell, buddy… we’ll miss you, but we sure had a long and great run together.

Still missing you!



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