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Home Again!

25 May

Cortona. We arrived yesterday, tired but invigorated and anxious to see people from last year.  Ti ricordi di noi? we asked, wondering if they remembered us. The warm embraces, big smiles and wonderful double cheek kisses let us know they did. I learned recently that the first kiss goes on the left cheek…funny I never knew that!

Benita L-front), Judy, Len, Michael, Sarah

Sarah, Davide, Benita

We had dinner at Taverna Pane e Vino. Unlike last year, when it was just Len and me, this trip we have a cast of characters including son Michael, daughter Benita,  and her friend Sarah. Benita and Sarah are both minoring in photography and will graciously lend some of their wonderful photos to my posts.

Also, a photo with our server Davide… the girls attract a lot of attention!

Afterward, heading out for gelato, we bumped into a group of professional photographers we had met earlier. They are doing several photo shoots throughout Italy for a travel company…a dream job! They answered my Mac converter questions and I provided some info about Cortona. In Cortona, strangers seem to easily become friends.

Clay (L-front), Cornelius, Marco, Barney
Dining al fresco on Via Nazionale

Talk about feeling home again. This morning, while the others slept, Len and I went to Trattoria Taconi for our usual morning cappuccino. This is the five-table teeny restaurant where we enjoyed cappuccino each morning last year. They actually only serve pranz0, or lunch, and you eat whatever Graziella is preparing for the day, on crisp white linen table cloths, of course. Yesterday we stopped in just to say hello. This morning, while having cappuccino, I noticed four of the five tables had reservation signs on them. I asked Angelino if something special was going on, and he pointed to the largest of the tables and said, per voi…for you! Of course, a table set for five. They were expecting us for lunch. Home again!

Graziella preparing our lunch

Pasta ragu

Lingering at Trattoria Taconi (panorama courtesy of Benita)

Happy to report that the sun is shining and we are all rested and ready for adventure.



Tacconi Trattoria and a Surprise

24 Jun

A few mornings ago, we happened into a very small trattoria just down the street from us for cappuccino. I noticed a sign that said they were only open for lunch. I introduced myself, and asked the lady for a menu. In Italian, Graziella said there was no menu, just what she was cooking each day.

This morning after coffee, I told her we’d be back for lunch. She took me in the small kitchen to see what she was making…the scents were already divine. As  you can see in the pictures, there was tomato sauce with meat already simmering and another pan heating on the flame with olive oil, garlic, sage, and just added cannelini beans.

We returned later for lunch and had the best pasta with meat sauce ever! And I don’t even like meat sauce! Before the pasta, she surprised us with just fried zucchini blossoms. And of course, the Florentine Bistecca, which they cook over an open flame and fan the charcoals to obtain the perfect heat and flame height. (That’s two steaks more than I have had in a long time!)

And here’s the surprise. As I took pictures, Graziella asked if I was a writer. I explained that I had a blog and would feature her restaurant. She then told me she had a friend that’s a writer, and then she went to a glass cabinet to pull out some books. Three books in Italian… all autographed to Graziella by none other than Frances Mays.

I have mentioned in an earlier post that I have read Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany. Frances Mays clearly put Cortona on the radar of many a traveler to Italy. That said, however, we did not come here looking for her nor have we ascended the hill to find Bramasole. In fact, unlike the real Julia Childs in Julie and Julia, most people don’t even know what Frances Mays looks like…They often imagine her as Diane Lane, from the movie, as shown in many posters around Cortona.

Graziella and her husband Angelino have a collage of pictures hanging on the wall. She took me over and pointed to one of her and Frances Mays. She then told us we were sitting at the table where Frances somtimes comes to write. A fortunate stroke of serendipity for me! And now you and I know what she actually looks like!

Ciao, Ciao,


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