Less than two hours and €15 away from Florence is the Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona, haloed by Etruscan walls. The setting for the film ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, Cortona is a jumble of medieval streets, relaxed piazzas and Etruscan history. As well as the absorbing museums in the town, the MAEC (Museum of Etruscan and local history) is well worth a look; one of my favourite places is Le Celle. The tranquil convent, founded by St Francis in the thirteenth century, is reached by a meandering forty-five minute walk through woods and olive groves. Photo opportunities abound along the way, with stunning views over the valley.
Take the train to either Terontola or Camucia, from there a regular bus service runs up to the walled town.
Train times: www.trenitalia.com
Bus times: www.lfi.it
Museum of Etruscan Academy and of the City: www.cortonamaec.org/english/
Piazza Luca Signorelli, 9 52044 Cortona Province of Arezzo, Italy
+39 0575 637235
Le Celle: www.lecelle.it/
Google map: bit.ly/12HqjvA
Take an hour and twenty minutes train trip south to Camucia and catch the local bus or what appears to be the only taxi in the area, up to the ancient Etruscan walled town of Cortona. From Piazza Garibaldi the main street has many bars where you can take a light lunch enjoying the casual atmosphere before walking out of town back past the Piazza Garibaldi into the tree lined avenue of the public park, Giardini Parterre, with magnificent views across the Valdichiana.
At the end of the park turn left up the cypress lined road with wonderful views over the hills and you will come to Bramasole, the big peach coloured house where Frances Mayes wrote Under the Tuscan Sun. Carry on to the village of Torreone and turn left to follow the old roman road through the Porta Montanina back into Cortona. Stroll down through the steep narrow streets to Piazza della Republica just after siesta as the town comes to life and a possible free wine tasting at Enoteca Molesini.
The Piazza buzzes with life early evening and you will find it hard to leave to catch the train from Camucia back to Florence.
Camucia Station, a ten minute bus ride or five minutes by taxi from Cortona.
Google map: bit.ly/12lPJP5
One warm May evening in the Tuscan hill town of Cortona my new fiancé and I witnessed the ritual that is the Italian passeggiata. After the day’s work is done all ages take to the streets for a stroll, catching up on gossip, flirting and maybe enjoying a drink and a snack.
We watched the spectacle from the comfort of a street-side bar and ordered a negroni each, which arrived with complementary olives and breadsticks.
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