It’s always been my intention to visit Italy. Home to some of the world’s best food, art, culture, music, inventions, and hot men (OH that accent!) Here’s my experience in Cortona, Italy – Yes, It’s As Romantic As ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’!
Tuscany, in particular, has been my target. I’m in love with the little medieval towns and especially wanted to see Cortona, you know, the place where Diane Lane’s character, Frances, finds herself getting off a tour bus, buying a villa on a whim, and falling in love with herself and ultimately finding love again after a devastating divorce?
The whole story was way too close to home…but that’s another post!
Having visited two times before when it was cold, this past June I made my way back to Tuscany, this time when the sunflowers were blooming and the fragrant grapes for Chianti were soaking in the warm sun.
I wanted to celebrate my birthday in Cortona and that’s exactly what I did. I arrived in the morning, just as the day was starting. I love this time of the morning in Italy, there aren’t many people on the streets and the locals are busy with their daily chores.
The heavenly smell of coffee and pastries are in the air and men and women are in the coffee bars discussing things I don’t understand. I love watching the locals, Italians are so eloquent with their hand motions and facial expressions; even the kids speak this way.
The town of Cortona is the oldest Etruscan town in Tuscany and is located on top of San Egidio hill; protected by ancient stone walls preserved to maintain their original beauty. While strolling through them, I couldn’t help but wonder who walked the same streets, what was there life like, what did they do?
In the afternoon I walked slowly through town scattered with stores, cafes, restaurants, and coffee bars. The main square, Piazza Della Repubblica, is charming and filled with places to sit and people watch, one of my favorite things to do!
It’s also one of the scenes from the movie – if you’ve seen it, it’s the part where Diane Lane walks through the market and buys the grapes and writes the postcard for the other traveler. A little-known fact about the movie – the fountain depicted in it was actually flown in for that scene…yea, I was disappointed about that a little!
Although the town is popular for the movie (you can see one or two posters advertising it) and draws its fair share of tourists who want to see the town, it’s not so crowded that you can’t enjoy everything about it.
There are several beautiful churches within the city walls that have beautiful architecture. The main church Duomo di Cortona is a Renaissance-style building, dating back to the early eighteenth century. The barrel vault covering the middle of the central part of the ceiling was repainted in the last twenty years of the XIX century by Giovanni Brunacci. It’s a must-see when visiting Cortona. The other churches are of equal beauty, many within walking distance.
Museums small and large are scattered within the city, each one with unique art dating back to the 14th century. The Museum of the Etruscan Academy has pieces from ancient Egypt to futurism. One of the most interesting artifacts is the Etruscan Lampadio a bronze piece from the fifth century BC.
I was sponsored by Avignonesi a unique and wonderful vineyard, where I was treated to a tour of their vineyards and wine tasting. As those who follow me regularly know, I LOVE Chianti and the red wines of Tuscany and, in my humble opinion, Avignonesi produces some of the best in the region.
I also enjoyed a lavish lunch which included wine pairing…needless to say I was well on my way to be full on tipsy before I left! Each of the award-winning wines is produced on their properties that span throughout the Tuscan area. It was a wonderful afternoon and I would have been happy to visit their property even if they didn’t sponsor me!
Cortona is filled with villas, hotels, and Airbnbs so accommodations are plentiful. I chose to stay within the city walls literally steps away from the main square. I enjoyed waking up and wondering the streets and enjoying delicious cappuccinos before most people came out for the day and staying out late eating glorious meals and trying a variety of wines.
The center city is clean, safe, and easy to navigate. Most local business owners know enough English to help you get alone and were very patient with my very limited Italian.
It’s a place that’s close to my heart and I can’t get enough of it. I went as a solo traveler but the romance and mood are great for couples. Weddings are held regularly there and it’s a great spot for a honeymoon.
It’s also great for families and retreats. I recommend it to anyone and often do!
Have you ever been? Share your experiences with us.
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Curious to know how I travel on sponsorship? Click HERE to find out!