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Sharing Cortona

6 Sep

My Chicago Italian teacher, Giovanna, a Tuscan native, and her dear friends Clarissa and Sergio, who live about two hours away in Tuscany, have been with us for two beautiful days. We have walked, talked, climbed, dined, and been welcomed by our wonderful local friends who call this incredible town home.

Among other things, we visited two of our favorite eateries, Caffe Tuscher for appertivo and Prosecco –

Tuscher Caffe©Blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe©Blogginginitaly.com

and AD Braceria for dinner…

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

as well as our favorite gallery, Il Pozzo.

Il pozzo ©Blogginginitaly.com

Il Pozzo ©Blogginginitaly.com

At each, not only were our visitors surprised by the creativity and quality of the food and art, they were also charmed by our friends, the proprietors, who willingly share their knowledge of the history of the ancient buildings that house their establishments.

One of the things I often tell people is that Cortona has a never-ending supply of surprises, and today did not disappoint. After emerging from the Cortonantiquaria, an important antique show that has been coming here for 55 years, we followed a drum beat to the central piazzas. Piazza Signorelli was filled with luxury autos…

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

and in Piazza Repubblica, the flag bearers were performing to the beat of the drums.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

In addition, the weather was perfect – bright blue skies filled with sunshine and gentle breezes. Our friends proclaimed, “If we had ordered a perfect day, it would have been today!”

We ended the day at Le Celle, where St. Francis of Assisi spent part of his monastic life.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At Le Celle, we noticed these caper bushes growing on the stone walls. Amazing nature.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

While we are having many visitors this fall, and look forward to sharing Cortona with them, it was particularly gratifying to see native Tuscans fall in love with Cortona. It is truly a special place – its ancient beauty, its warm people, and its fascinating history and culture. It is not a town that shuts down at sunset, nor a town that has an overabundance of tour groups. It is, as my friend Paula said, a town that works. Bravo Cortona.

Finally, I am proud to report that Giovanna and her friends were impressed with my Italian. When here, I am in language training 24/7, but I would never have progressed without Giovanna as my cara professoressa.

Grazie Giovanna, for coming to Cortona and for introducing us to your dear friends and now ours as well. Auguri!

AD Bracceria©Blogginginitaly.com

AD Bracceria©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,

Judy

For more on Le Celle, including photos and a short video I made a few years ago, please click here: https://blogginginitaly.com/2013/06/12/franciscan-hermitage-of-le-celle-cortona/

 

 

 

15,000+ Views!

31 Aug

I am delighted to report that this week, Blogginginitaly.com surpassed 15,000 views! Pretty amazing, especially as it began as a fun way for me to share our travels with family members and a few friends.

IMG_1809Over the last two years, my blog has been my journal, giving me a place to record my thoughts, experiences and pictures as we travel around Italy.

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To my surprise and delight, its reach has broadened and now includes viewers from over 80 countries.

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Many thanks for all your thoughtful comments and encouragement. Writing my blog is an endless learning curriculum for me – one that is filled with never-ending yet truly satisfying homework.

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It’s a joy to share my reflections about Italy with others who love it so, and a privilege to share it with those who can only dream of going.

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I can think of no better way to say thanks than by sharing some of my very favorite views.

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And of course, let’s not forget the food!

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Finally, to Len, with whom I have seen all of these views,

a little something we saw on a hillside…

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Ciao, Judy

Judy in window

Franciscan Hermitage of Le Celle, Cortona

12 Jun

The Franciscan Hermitage of Le Celle, one of the most beautiful and spiritual places in Cortona, was built in the foothills of Monte S. Egidio in a natural gorge carved out by a stream.

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This hill-top monastery, a few miles from the center of Cortona, was founded in 1211 by St. Francis of Assisi and some of his followers. It was then they built the original nine “cells” providing the Hermitage with the name Le Celle ever since.

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When you enter the area, you are reminded of the nature of the holy space as well as encouraged to be open to all it has to offer.

Brothers and Sister, the presence of St. Francis of Assisi has sanctified this place…

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In 1226, a few months before his death, St. Francis dictated his will here. Brother Elia is credited with carrying out the details of the will and ensured that the Hermitage reflected all aspects of Franciscan life. It is believed he created the chapel, shown below, in front of the small “cell” where St. Francis lived for a few years. (Friar Chuck, thinking of you as we walked the grounds.)

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The door from the chapel to St. Francis’ cell is shown upper right.  His small cell, shown below, is just large enough for a bed (wooden plank far wall), a table and a chair, as prescribed by St. Francis himself.

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Over the years and after the death of Brother Elia, Le Celle had different religious occupants and was eventually abandoned. In 1537, however, the Capuchins, the Third Order of Franciscans, took over the facility. They enlarged the Hermitage and in 1634, erected a new chapel shown below, dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. The simple architecture of the chapel reflects the unpretentiousness of the Capuchins. The altar is made of wood and there are no paintings or decorations.

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Today, Le Celle is home to seven Capuchin Friars and offers lodging to those considering vocational life.

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The amazing structure is as serene as it is beautiful, especially in the early evening as the sun is setting over the valley.

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Because there has been so much rain this spring, this waterfall, usually dry in June, is running at full speed.

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Hoping that I learned enough from my brief iMovie lessons, I leave you with a few sights and sounds of Le Celle.

Ciao,

Judy

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