Archive | Cortona RSS feed for this section

Easter Weekend In Cortona

22 Apr

Throughout Italy, Easter week is filled with religious and cultural traditions. Each town has its long-held ceremonies, and Cortona is no exception. Children who held their grandparents’ hands as they were first introduced to the Good Friday procession now carry those same heavy and beautifully crafted statues through the streets of town as their own children watch in awe.

©blogginginitaly.com

The solemnity of Friday evening fades Saturday morning as people gather along the streets and in the markets to shop for their Easter meal. Friends are greeted with Buona Pasqua and the double cheek kiss as they exchange pleasantries and best wishes while shopping.

One dessert staple is the Colomba di Pasqua, a traditional Italian Easter cake, which comes in various sizes and a few flavors, but is always shaped like a dove.

©blogginginitaly.com

On Easter Sunday, although most cook and eat at home with family, there are also many restaurants offering multi-course traditional meals.

And then comes La Pasquetta, Easter Monday, or Little Easter. This is a national holiday when families pack up Easter leftovers, head to parks or beaches for picnics, or stroll around towns like Cortona. And stroll they do. I always need to remind myself to slow down on these days.

©blogginginitaly.com

La Pasquetta is a time for relaxation, and a midday Aperol Spritz seems to be the colorful  beverage of choice for many.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Amid the crowds and festivities, we always manage to find time for quiet walks, alone or with friends, taking in some views that newly trimmed trees now offer,

©blogginginitaly.com

as well as the magnificent signs of spring.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then, of course, there are the sunsets, with or without aperitivo, no description needed.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy Easter, Passover, and Spring!

Ciao
Judy

 

 

Re-entry!

11 Apr

We returned to Cortona over two weeks ago, and we’ve been busy.  While sometimes it seems as though we have the town to ourselves, 

©blogginginitaly.com

the weekends remind us that Cortona is a “happening” place.

Occasionally, however, there are “happenings” we’d rather avoid.

©blogginginitaly.com

We managed to get “fined” on a 10 minute bus ride from Camucia to Cortona. Longer story shortened, our to-and-from rides were all on one ticket, which we validated each way. However, we didn’t realize, or frankly just forgot, that we had to validate the single ticket twice each way, and consequently, we were fined by the very occasional inspectors who boarded our bus one stop from Piazza Garibaldi, our final destination. Yes, we paid for both of us, and yes, we thought we had correctly validated the ticket, but none of that mattered. Word to the wise: validate, validate, validate, or pay 60 euros!!!

But as always, our days and nights are filled with great friends and great food, some  shown here.

During our second week, we spent several days in Lucca. Although it rained each day, we were able to walk the wall, do some sight seeing, visit with a friend, and find some great restaurants.

On the way back, we stopped in Firenze as we had been invited to visit the Carabinieri Training School. Len just couldn’t resist.

m5ZK4vcXRKeBHFOz2WJ9NQ

©blogginginitaly.com

A few days ago, we drove with friends to a medieval town in Umbria called Narni. There are hundreds of towns like this in Italy, each with its own history and legends, and usually an interesting fact for which they are known. For Narni, it is being very close to the geographic center of Italy.

kfZ0A5HoTRic3tgnNJ5XVQ

©blogginginitaly.com

fullsizeoutput_d56a

©blogginginitaly.com

On Monday of this week, we picked up our car, this time a Fiat Panda.

9pJd7UtfSVGAgNDUCR8Rrg

©blogginginitaly.com

The weather has not been great, but mostly I feel like her… I’m here and I’m happy!

fullsizeoutput_d558

©blogginginitaly.com

And today, before the rains fell, we drove through the Tuscan countryside, as if driving through a painting, and witnessed, once again, the stunning landscape and the ever-spectacular views that always bring a smile to my face. 

fullsizeoutput_d565

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

2018 in Review

31 Dec

A great way to look back at 2018 is through my photos. For me, they paint a picture of wonderful times spent with family and friends. Each picture brings a smile to my face and each memory reminds me of how lucky I am to have these people in my life.

A look back at 2018…

Florida in winter

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Summer in Chicago

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Thanksgiving

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Key West Destination Wedding

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Christmastime

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Cortona and all around Italy

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

As we end another year, many thanks to family and friends, pictured here and not, who continue to enrich our lives as we create the future together.

©blogginginitaly.com

From Chicago to Cortona, from our hearts to yours,
our very best wishes
for a healthy and happy 2019!

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy New Year! Buon Anno!!

Ciao,
Judy

BOCCE Cortona

24 Aug

When we lived in Austin, we actually had a bocce set. As I recall, non of us knew the rules, so we made them up depending on who and how many were playing. And that held true until yesterday, when we learned to play bocce at the hand of a champion!

Many years ago, we are told, Cortona had a bocce court in/near Porta Colonna, before it became a parking lot. Today, however, bocce is played just outside of Cortona in Tavernelle.

There we found  BOCCIODROMO Communal, or the community bocce dome. Not just any dome mind you, but a semi professional one that held the special olympics some years ago. And according to the Special Olympics website: Next to soccer and golf, bocce is the third most participated sport in the world.

©blogginginitaly.com

Inside are three bocce lanes made of cement and covered with a special resin. Championship banners and trophies of all sizes adorn the walls.

©blogginginitaly.com

We were graciously met by Lidio, a local champion, who proceeded to demonstrate several methods of tossing the bocce.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

We divided ourselves into two teams and learned basic rules as we played. First team to 12 points would win.

©blogginginitaly.com

I must admit, I was hooked. Although the basic principle of the sport is to roll a bocce ball closest to the pallina or target ball, there are so many styles and strategies as well as a great deal of competitiveness at play.

©blogginginitaly.com

And the more we learned, the more competitive we became.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Lidio even helped with measuring who was closest to the pallina.

©blogginginitaly.com

Unfortunately, I was not on the winning team, but it was such great fun for all that these two characters decided to play one more time while Lidio gave some of us more advanced instruction.

©blogginginitaly.com

Many thanks to Lidio for his time, instruction, and most of all, patience,

©blogginginitaly.com

from his new BOCCE fans!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

How Does our Orto (Garden) Grow?

17 Aug

With warm sunny days, sufficient rainfall, and tender loving care, “our” garden grew from this at the end of April…

©blogginginitaly.com

to this in August!

©blogginginitaly.com

After giving a thumbs up to the garden’s success, Len decided to take in some sun and enjoy a Toscano, a small Italian cigar (that actually doesn’t smell bad),

©blogginginitaly.com

while Fernanda and I were ready to pick, baskets in hand.

©blogginginitaly.com

We filled our baskets with three of the four varieties we had planted…

Ciliegino (Cherry)

©blogginginitaly.com

San Marzano

©blogginginitaly.com

Camone

©blogginginitaly.com

and the not quite ready, Cuore di Bue (Beef Steak)

©blogginginitaly.com

We also picked susine (plums) from the brimming trees that not only keep the orto from scorching in the summer sun,

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

but also provide fruit for delicious marmellata.

©blogginginitaly.com

Then it was time for our “casual” county lunch ~

Our Al Fresco Menu included:
freshly cut prosciutto and sliced melon;
hand-picked tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and garden basil;
just cooked porchetta from the market;
cannelloni beans sautéed in fresh tomatoes;
Toscana Rosso di Montalcino

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Talk about farm to table –  and so much more rewarding since we are the planters, pickers and very fortunate eaters!

After lunch, it was time for some serious relaxation.

©blogginginitaly.com

Little did we know two years ago how incredibly rewarding this small garden would be. How does our garden grow? Well, we may not be experts, and the local farmers still offer much advice, but for us, everything about the orto is perfectly wonderful, perfectly delicious, and so proudly our own doing. We just can’t help but smile!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

Celebrating with Friends

23 May


My most heartfelt thanks for all the birthday wishes I received yesterday via hugs, phone and video calls, emails, messages and social media. The best part for me was seeing the names of special people in my life –  family members, relatives, dear friends I’ve known forever and new friends I’ve made along the way.

One of my brothers-in-law suggested that whatever I do, I should share the day in photos, so here are some of the wonderful highlights.

Breakfast at Tuscher:

©blogginginitaly.com

Hair Cut at AF:

©blogginginitaly.com

Lunch with a few friends (they brought the party items!) at Cafe Braceria Chianina:

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

The chef, server and the piping hot grill:

©blogginginitaly.com

Shared antipasto:

©blogginginitaly.com

Various menu items ordered –  Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil,

©blogginginitaly.com

Filet topped with bacon,

©blogginginitaly.com

Stuffed rolled turkey breast,

©blogginginitaly.com

and my favorite – grilled chicken breast!

©blogginginitaly.com

Dessert was self-select, and I managed to only get a photo of the tiramisu.

©blogginginitaly.com

After a most leisurely lunch, we headed to Fernanda’s for caffè and sambuca,

©blogginginitaly.com

and then Len engaged in his new favorite pastime – small Tuscan cigaros!

©blogginginitaly.com

Later in the evening, with no one hungry, we had an impromptu toast or “brindisi” at Tuscher.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

What a perfectly wonderful way to spend my birthday, being utterly relaxed, showered with gifts and loving wishes, including an upcoming CUBS night game from Benita, and sharing it all with dear friends in Cortona. Len said he wishes my next birthday could come sooner, but I’m quite happy to wait another year!

Till then, many many thanks to all who helped make my day so very special, and most especially, this guy.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

Mille Miglia Cortona 2018

17 May

Cortona was ready…the Mille Miglia was passing through the town for the first time ever and the spectators eagerly awaited their arrival. Although the main viewing area was Piazza Repubblica, where each car was announced as it arrived,

©blogginginitaly.com

each car first had to pass through the adjacent Piazza Signorelli, my first vantage point. I was in place as the first car arrived in this three-day Italy event from Brescia – Roma – Brescia.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Other cars soon followed. Given that I took nearly 200 photos today, I leaned on Len to help choose a good sampling.

©blogginginitaly.com

As the cars passed from one piazza to the next, the delighted crowds cheered and waved flags. I love that some drivers seemed as taken with Cortona as the spectators were with them (see driver in the red sweater!).

©blogginginitaly.com

And then the parade continued, sometimes in single file 

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

and sometimes in clusters.

©blogginginitaly.com

Stopping isn’t as easy as one might think – these cars have mechanical, not power brakes.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

An exception, of course, is this Ferrari pace car which Len said was too beautiful to leave out. Ok, ok.

©blogginginitaly.com

I decided to head toward the area where the cars were entering Cortona. On the way, I passed this vintage car on Via Dardano.

©blogginginitaly.com

Entering Porta Colonia is a rather tight turn, and I was interested in seeing how the drivers were maneuvering. This driver made it look pretty easy as these cars also have no power steering. 

©blogginginitaly.com

However, when I passed through Porta Colonia to Piazza Mazzini, I discovered the answer. The usual parking lot had been turned into a wide turning radius, greatly minimizing not only the tight turn but also the chance for scratches and scrapes.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

And then the cars kept coming and coming and coming. Whatever the final count, the original estimate was around 600 – with such an impressive array of makes, styles, colors, and sizes. 

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Not quite sure I could spend three days/1000 miles in this!

©blogginginitaly.com

Kudos to Cortona for making its debut in the 2018 Mille Miglia circuit and for a job well done! 

Arrivederci, Mille Miglia, hopefully we meet again.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

Mille Miglia – 1000 Miles

16 May

For the first time ever, the famous Mille Miglia open-road endurance race is coming through Cortona. If you are a car lover, or just a fortunate spectator, this will be a spectacular treat.

The race took place in Italy 24 times from 1927 to 1957 (13 before the war, 11 after 1947). From 1953-57, the race was also a round of the World Sports Car Championship. Today’s local paper proclaimed that this is the first time the event will come through Cortona,

IMG_2007

©LaNazione

and posters are all over town.

©blogginginitaly.com

The race was banned after two fatal crashes in 1957, killing both drivers and many spectators. From 1958 to 1961, the event resumed as a rally-like roundtrip at legal speeds with a few special stages driven at full speed, but this was discontinued also.

In 1977, the Mille Miglia was reborn as a “race” for classic vintage cars produced pre-1957. The round trip route is Brescia-Roma-Brescia, similar to that of the original race, and takes several days to complete. 

Here is the route, published by the Mille Miglia official site:

Below are some excerpts taken (and translated) from an email I received this morning detailing some of the logistics. I imagine the times are estimates based on weather conditions and traffic. What is significant, however, is the sheer number of cars, upward of 600, expected to move through the streets of Cortona tomorrow.

Cortona for the first time in its history will be a stop in this race. Everything is ready in the city to welcome this historic passage. About 600 cars will participate in the Mille Miglia 2018. 30 Super Car Mercedes, 100 Super Ferrari Cars and 450 historic cars. Among these, 70% are made up of foreign crews and many famous people. The passage will last for four hours.

In Cortona the reception will be special: the cars will start arriving in the city between 12.30 and 13. The approach path will … enter the city from Via Dardano, Piazza Signorelli, stop for stamping in Piazza della Repubblica and exit from Via Nazionale.

Among the well-known characters at the start, Coldplay bass player Guy Berryman, Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Dutch prince Van Oranje, Piero Pelù, Spanish singer Alvaro Soler and former Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella, actress and model Francesca Chillemi, the patron of Prada Patrizio Bertelli.

Per Mayor Francesca Basanieri, … The Mille Miglia is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most famous and celebrated car races in the world, and having brought it to Cortona, even if only as an intermediate stage, is a very important result.

If you would like more info, from the years of history to this year’s event, this site is well worth visiting: http://www.1000miglia.it/MilleMiglia/ 

As for me, tomorrow will be a photo-op dream.

Just hope the weather cooperates! Stay tuned.

Ciao,
Judy

2018 Orto (Garden) Planted!

30 Apr

In a very unanticipated move, we planted the garden yesterday. The original plan was for this Thursday, but the weather outlook was not encouraging with a week of rain and thunderstorms in the forecast.

With Fernanda’s approval (she was at work), Len, Carlo and I headed to the nursery at 3PM to purchase tomato plants.

In late April/early May, hail producing storms can play havoc with small plants in Tuscany, but we were ready and determined to get the garden in before the storms.  After all, we did the same two years ago with great success.

©Blogginginitaly.com              August 2016, 1st Orto

With two years experience under their belts, Len and Carlo were up to the task.

©blogginginitaly.com

They moved quickly and efficiently, re-using the cane from years past to make the trellises.

©blogginginitaly.com

My job was to cut the twine, make caffè, and hold things as needed.

©blogginginitaly.com

When not needed, I wandered the fields next door. Only this year have I learned that the tall green grassy fields that blow in the wind are actually grain/wheat fields. I had assumed, incorrectly, that wheat would be a tan color, not bright green. These happen to be orzo or barley.

©blogginginitaly.com

A close-up reveals the familiar spike at the top of the plant.

©blogginginitaly.com

But back to the garden…four zucchini plants and eighteen tomato plants, (four varieties),

©blogginginitaly.com

all covered in mesh to hopefully ward off any potential hail damage.

©blogginginitaly.com

By 7 PM, the job was done and the full moon showered her approval.

©blogginginitaly.com

All in a day’s wonderful work, truly from farm to table (eventually!),

©blogginginitaly.com

with, fingers-crossed, a bit of cooperation from Mother Nature!

Ciao,
Judy

An Ode to Springtime in Cortona

6 Apr

When an 8 1/2 hour flight turns into a 40+ hour unexpected project, it is heartwarming to be embraced by the outstretched arms of Cortona – its historic buildings, incredible views, wonderful food and most of all, its warm and gracious people. It’s no wonder that, over Easter weekend, Cortona was ranked the number one preferred Italian destination by Airbnb.

Thus, our familiar walks have inspired my very simplistic verse:

Ode to Springtime in Cortona

With temperatures rising,
the buds are bursting and the sun is shining.

©blogginginitaly.com

Many are walking as others are riding.

©blogginginitaly.com

As the fog is lifting, it is quite revealing –
the dandelions are popping
and the hillsides are greening.

©blogginginitaly.com

All the while,
the bright shiny Vespas and motos keep careening.

©blogginginitaly.com

So many places for delicious dining;

©blogginginitaly.com (Tuscher)

©blogginginitaly.com (Tuscher)

©blogginginitaly.com (Tuscher)

accompanied, of course, by Tuscan wine(ing).

©blogginginitaly.com

And no matter what age, Gelato always brings smiling.

©blogginginitaly.com (Snoopy’s)

So if you are seeking a place which is lovely and inspiring,

©blogginginitaly.com

Cortona in Springtime is simply beguiling.

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

%d bloggers like this: