Tag Archives: Anghiari

Italian Hill Towns

7 Jun

Just returned from a two-day tour of the Italian countryside in Tuscany and Umbria where the drive was as lovely as the three ancient towns we visited.


Our first stop was Citta di Castello, meaning town of the castle. Although there actually is no castle, there are stately old buildings and monuments, and of course, in the “larger” cities as least, a duomo or cathedral. The area was an ancient Roman port on the Tiber River and some archaeological remains of the port are visible in the southern part of the historical center.






Eliza, at Antico Canonico where we spent the night, was most helpful in telling us about the city as well as other nearby towns which we visited the next day. Our “hotel” was originally built years ago as a home for priests. While the door to each unit is the original “cell” door, the apartment behind is simple, ample and clean. Yes, this is our apartment door!


In the afternoon, we enjoyed  watching the men’s bocce tournament. And in the evening, we strolled the town with the locals.


The next morning, our first destination was the lovely town of Citerna in Umbria, a tiny hilltop town which boasts of Etruscan and Roman origins and is ranked among the 100 most beautiful villages in Italy. It is the northernmost town in Umbria and while it was severely damaged during WWII, you’d  never know it today.





The panoramic views as we left town were spectacular!


From there we headed back to Tuscany to a town called  Anghiari. At first, this appeared to be a “modern” town until we came upon the ancient hilltop walled city. Anghiari is famous for a 1440 battle between the towns of Florence and Milan, and even inspired Leonardo da Vinci to create a fresco in Palazzo Vecchio. Although the original fresco has disappeared,  a sketch of it by Peter Paul Rubens is still in existence.

Peter Paul Rubens' copy of the lost Battle of ...

Peter Paul Rubens’ copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ancient town is filled with steep, winding streets, and on one of them, we came across a wonderful shop called Carabattole. Sitting inside was Marinella, from whom we learned about tombolo, an art not practiced in the US.





I bought a lovely pair of earrings similar to the ones shown above. Afterward, we enjoyed a simple but wonderful lunch at a local Cantina.


When we returned to Cortona and talked to some of the locals about our trip, many had not even heard of tiny Citerna. How lucky for us that  Eliza directed us there, as well as to Anghiari. Continuing to follow the road less travelled without agenda always brings us wonderful surprises and new memories as well as the opportunity to share them with you.



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