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A Day at the Market

31 May

If it’s Thursday, it’s market day in Camucia, the town at the base of Cortona. Vendors of every type gather to sell their wears. Vegetables, poultry, meats, salamis, men’s, ladies’ and children’s clothes, leather goods, shoes, boots, flowers, candy, pastry, spices, household goods, luggage, scarves, lingerie, socks, and just about anything you might need.

We woke to a morning sun, an amazing sight these days, and took the morning bus down the hill to Camucia, a ten minute “switchbacking” scenic drive. We began the day at Vanelli Caffetteria for cappuccino and dolce. They pride themselves on the most artistic coffees and it’s fun watching their artists at work:



Then to the market we went. Most of the men gather at the front, their version of a man cave…


while most women roam the market, a great idea as each group is happy.


Len and I usually begin together, then when Len has seen enough, he heads to the male section.

I think the food is always the most interesting, and the locals happily shop for everything fresh. Feast your eyes:

Porchetta, about four feet long





Formaggio and Salumi




Fresh Porcini, bigger than my fist


Anchovies (Yikes!)


Just picked garlic


And despite all the local cuisine, for those needing an American food fix…


We had fun shopping and bought a few things including several pair of socks since it has been so cold and wet! Waiting for the bus to take us home, the skies opened and it began to hail. Locals say this is the worst weather in 100 years and I believe it. And it’s not supposed to break for another 10 days. Glad we are not having many guests this year.

So, if you are wondering why I am mostly writing about food, it’s because restaurants are one of the few places to keep dry.  The good news is that we are getting to know the locals better, and that’s a big reason we are here. The healthy news for us is that to get anywhere, we need to climb one of the steepest streets in Cortona, coupled with the  35 steps in our house. So, although we haven’t been able to take our usual hikes, we are still getting plenty of exercise. Here’s hoping for the return of sunshine!



Castiglione del Lago

21 Jun

Today we drove to the city of Castiglione, which was built on a limestone cliff above Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake on the Italian peninsula. It is what is called an impounded lake as it receives water yet has no outlet. Both the city and lake are in Umbria. We noticed the difference in heat as soon as we arrived, as Cortona is higher in elevation, thus cooler. We also noticed that although this town is on a lake with beaches, the streets were quite empty.

Though not many people, the streets are filled with charcuteries, small stores filled with an amazing assortment of meats, cheeses, grains, pasta and condiments. We tried to buy this boar as a souvenir, but no game. We thought it might be fun taking him through the TSA body screening…hmm… All is a day’s travel.

Note: If planning to use GPS from a car rental agency, at least in Europe, our advice is to forget it. We learned that two other friends had the same negative experiences we’ve had. We’ve gloveboxed ours and driving is getting better…now there’s only two of us fighting about directions instead of three!



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