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Christmas Greetings from Cortona

12 Dec

What is Christmas like in Cortona? Christmas in Cortona makes me feel as if I am still there. Such fun seeing so many friends who live and work in Cortona and make it such a special place. Thanks, AF Travel, for putting this together.

Christmas In Cortona, Tuscany ©AF TRAVEL

Click here and enjoy: Christmas in Cortona

Ciao,

Judy

Italy: It’s So About the Food

17 Sep

A sampling of what we’ve eaten in the past few weeks, some out and some at home:

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And let’s not forget the sun-dried fichi (figs)!

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Wish you could taste them all.

Ciao,

Judy

Celebrating My Birthday Locally

23 May

For the past several years, we have celebrated my birthday at a trattoria in Cortona with Italians and views like this:

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This year, we also celebrated my birthday at an Italian trattoria

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also with “Italians” and views like this:

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Jersey Boys, as you probably know, is the musical story of four Italian dropouts from New Jersey who loved to sing and had a dream. Their road to success wasn’t easy, but in the 60’s, when rock and roll came of age, they ranked 5th as the top recording artists behind The Beatles, The Supremes, Elvis and The Rolling Stones.

For those of you who share my enthusiasm for all things Italian, my posts from Italy will not commence until the fall. With Len moving on from his teaching position (he says he’ll never actually retire!), we now have the opportunity to trade in Italian summer festivals and crowds for the fall harvests and fewer tourists. We are so looking forward to experiencing and sharing our ever unfolding adventure.

In the meantime, we plan to experience much of what Chicago has to offer this summer.

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We’ll sip some SHERRY at MARIANNE’S, but definitely not wear SHORT SHORTS or dress like a RAG DOLL; watch the sun rise at DAWN knowing we CAN’T TAKE OUR EYES OFF [IT]; study the SILHOUETTES at the art museum; remember during sad movies that BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY – they just HANG ON or  WALK LIKE A MAN;  and finally, toast the summer farewell with a rousing BYE, BYE, BABY,  BABY GOODBYE as we are WORKING OUR WAY BACK TO YOU, Cortona!

Thanks, Len and Benita for a most memorable evening – OH, WHAT A NIGHT! I think you know WHO LOVES YOU! And many thanks to all who filled my day with birthday wishes.

Ciao,

Judy

 

Piazza Life

15 Sep

Recently, I read an article in a Chicago paper about a local community that created a new and different type of outdoor space. It’s a place where restaurants, shops, pedestrians and vehicles commingle. While this may be new to an Illinois community, it is a way of life in much of Europe, something that I have long referred to as Piazza Life.

What is it about Italian Piazza Life that is so appealing? Just about everything.

Each piazza has its own borders, if you will, created by beautiful ancient buildings that have been repurposed. An old prison is now a museum, a villa now a bank, and a stable now an enoteca.

The center of the piazza may have a fountain or statue, or be empty and provide a stage for any number of diverse events. Nowhere is this better seen than in Cortona, where Piazza Life is a way of life.

While there are several piazzas in Cortona, the two main ones are Piazza Republicca and Piazza Signorelli. They are physically adjacent to one another, yet each has its own identity and events.

You know you are in Piazza Republicca when you are facing the grand staircase of the Municipio or Municipal building.

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While it is used for several city functions, it also provides a beautiful setting for many weddings where everyone in the piazza seems to join in the celebration.

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In this piazza, you can sit in or outside of a number of cafes; shop at a grocery store, fruit market, wine store, or florist; and buy  shoes, handbags, linens, and even a borselino, all actually made in Italy.

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People gather, some doing their morning shopping, others stopping for a chat with friends.

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Cars and cyclists navigate through pedestrians of all ages, and pop up performers are a common site.

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Celebrations commemorating historical events are held here.

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And while the piazzas are significantly quieter in the winter, they still draw people together for such delights as the incredible Christmastime lamp lighting celebration.

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Piazza Signorelli, the adjacent Piazza, is also breathtaking in its beauty, whether bathed in sunshine

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or glowing in the moonlight.

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Piazza Life provides a daily local gathering venue, be it day or night, for spontaneous and scheduled events, including

kids playing soccer;

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local musicians;

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vintage car enthusiasts;

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food and antique vendors;

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annual traditions;

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marching bands;

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and avid sports fans.

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Whether you find yourself almost alone in an ancient Piazza, (and yes it is possible!)…

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or surrounded by friends you have not yet made,

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just be prepared to be amazed by the sights and sounds.

Piazza Life – wonderful! …and no reservation required.

Ciao,

Judy

 

A Typical Thursday – Camucia Market and Tuscher Caffe

26 Jun

If it’s Thursday in Cortona, it’s market day in Camucia, the town at the bottom of the hill. As usual, we strolled for hours amongst the clothing, housewares, shoes, jewelry and food stalls.

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

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Camucia Market  – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market -  blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Len and I returned to Cortona about 2 PM and had lunch at our very favorite Tuscher Caffe on Via Nazionale. We eat here almost everyday, and usually try to be a little heathy, but today we really splurged. We shared the special, a pasta prepared with light cream sauce of prosciutto, onions, and melon, (yes thinly sliced melon! as only the Italians know how), and it was not only beautiful but incredibly delicious.

Tuscher Cafe - blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe – blogginginitaly.com

We also shared our daily tomato salad – very healthy!

Tuscher Cafe -  blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe –
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Then for dessert, which we usually never have at lunch, Edoardo, the chef and our friend, convinced us to try his special tiramisu with fresh cherries. Well, it ranks among the best desserts I have ever had. No drenched cookies with liquor here. Instead, a light, smooth, lovely dessert with the fresh cherries – simply amazing.

Edoardo's Tiramisu Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Tiramisu
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Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Caffe
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Tonight we have been invited to a friend’s home, so Edoardo is making me his delicious apple torta to take to my hosts.

Edoardo's Mela (Apple) Torta -  blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Mela (Apple) Torta –
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As for tomorrow’s agenda? Extended hiking, then more eating, of course.

I know, it’s a tough life. So glad it’s us that “has” to do it!

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

Antica Trattoria

29 May

One of the things you’ll rarely find in Cortona’s eateries is absentee ownership. Each proprietor is the essence of entrepreneurship…the first to arrive, the last to leave, sometimes the chef, visible to all, always on the go, and very devoted to pleasing patrons. Meet owner Luca Cuculi at Antica Trattoria, one such proprietor.

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For all who were with us last summer, you’ll no doubt remember the wonderful dinners we enjoyed at this restaurant, whether dining inside or al fresco. And last night was no different.

For primo, we shared an order of panzerotti, a hand-made, half-moon shaped stuffed pasta…Incredible!

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For secondo, we usually share an entrée, but since Len loves lamb chops and I don’t eat them, we ordered two entrées:

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the grilled hen and roasted potatoes for me:
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and the grilled lamb ribs with sautéed spinach for Len, which he proclaimed to be the best he has ever had!

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To complement our dinner, we ordered Sangiovese.  Fresh, simple, delicious! Grazie, Luca!

We’ll be back for sure!

Ciao,

Judy

Cortona Update and Random Event

28 May

Day 6:

Thanks for all your blog comments. It has been difficult to write and respond as we have not had internet in the house till today. Hopefully, it will continue to work!

Summer has yet to find its way to Cortona. Locals are sporting down jackets and boots, while the tourists walk around in their flip-flops, shorts and sweats, shivering while huddled under umbrellas. Yet always with a smile. Although we have more summer than fall clothes with us, we are nonetheless keeping warm. Eating and sampling various vini also helps!

About 10:30 last night, on our walk home through Piazza Republicca, we heard a familiar sound. Einstein, as I call him, had just begun to grace the almost empty piazza with the sounds of his flute. We stopped to listen and visit, as did others passing by. One of the things we love about Cortona is that there is always something happening, whether planned or random.

As I am finally learning to add some video to my blog, here’s a short piece from last night.

Today, we stopped at Tacconi Trattoria on Via Dardano to see friends Graziella and Angelo and to enjoy pappardelle con ragu. Amazing how delicious pasta warms cold feet…that and the pair of long socks I bought next door!

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Wow, there is a strange bright light coming through the window…can it be the sun?

Better run!

Ciao,

Judy

Taverna Pane e Vino, Cortona

27 May

Pane e Vino. Bread and Wine. Food and Italy. Judy and Len. Some things just go together.

So what are these, you ask? Cheese stuffed gnocchi with fresh sautéed artichokes and sun dried tomatoes. And yes, they are as good as they look!

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A sampling of bruschetta

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and some thinly sliced zucchini with cannellini beans, shaved pecorino and lettuce.

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Taverna Pane e Vino is located in Piazza Signorelli in Cortona. The covered entrance (beyond the arched glass door) serves as an open market in the morning which disappears later in the day to become the entrance to this local restaurant at night.

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The owner, Arnaldo, and Len talked about a few events they will be hosting this summer.

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All is a day’s work!

Ciao,

Judy

Fett’ unta on Via Maffei, Cortona

26 May

In Italian, the word “merenda” means afternoon snack. Fett’ unta is a new small eatery in Cortona, just opened a week, serving light lunch and dinner as well as afternoon snacks. We watched them doing construction at this location last summer so we stopped in today to sample the local cuisine. As for the name, if I understand it correctly, unta means “greased” as in greasing something with oil. Since literal translations rarely work, I’ll go with drizzling olive oil on your bread or panini, etc. At any rate, the food we ordered was delicious.

We shared two different bruschette:

Pear, cheese and walnuts; Mozzarella and roasted tomatoes

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Then we each ordered a hearty local soup as summer has yet to arrive in Cortona:

Orzo, artichoke and pecorino

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And pearl barley and beans

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Meet the owners, Ulisse and Antonio

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and check out their website at www.fettunta.net

Better yet, stop by when you are in town and they can make you a fresh prosciutto panini!

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Ciao,

Judy

Saturday To Do List

26 May

1. Skip Italian Class: (note to my Italian teacher and classmates): Buongiorno a tutti! Mi dispiace io non sono con voi, ma devo ammettere, preferisco essere qui. Anche se non ho fatto i compiti della scorsa settimana, Giovanna sarebbe fiero di come ho praticare ogni giorno, per tutto il giorno. Ci vediamo in autunno. Ciao, Giuditta

2. Go to Market: Items for lunch for Trattoria Gingerella: let the pictures speak for themselves!

At the market

Roses from our garden

Roasted chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella, melon and prosciutto, antipasto and vino

3. Take random photos:

Benita and Sarah

Real mozarella!

Mike and the original Fiat 500

A 1910 wardrobe trunk

4. Dinner at Trattoria Toscana: http://www.trattoriatoscana.eu/

Goat cheese with balsamic

Gnocchi with leak and tomato

Tagliatelle con porcini

A wonderful day!

Ciao, Judy

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