Thursday, April 12, 2007


Another up-and-at-‘em morning! We’ve got places to go, stuff to see, people to meet and things to buy!

We drove towards Cortona, taking the more scenic route along the SS317, letting Jami and Beth just enjoy the countryside, pointing out Assisi in the distance, and enjoying the morning….still a little cool, but beautiful.

We drove past Lake Trasimeno then up into Cortona, around the city walls and onto LeCelle, the monastery where St Francis once stayed. It’s till an active monastery, so the atmosphere is peaceful and contemplative.

Le Celle is built into the hillside, seeming to just hang there, magically, or maybe miraculously is a better word. It’s possible to visit the tiny chapel where Francis once worshipped, and to see the tiny, tiny room that was once his home.

After wandering the grounds of Le Celle, we drove back to the large parking lot just outside the Cortona city walls and walked up into this charming city. I can’t tell you what Cortona was like before Frances Mayes’ book put it on the tourist circuit, but it’s a charming town. Although it’s definitely a hilltown, it’s still manageable. There are several museums worth a visit, as well as many, many interesting shops.

We browsed through several of these shops, and Beth found these beautiful belts, made by the shop owner’s daughter. At another interesting shop, il Girasole, we stopped in to meet up with our friend Alessandra, who was going to join us for lunch. We first met Alessandra through the Slow Travel message board. She has a beautiful shop selling reproduction Etruscan jewelry, beautiful linens, and other unique gifts.

We walked across the main piazza to The Grotto restaurant. Our lunch
would prove to be delicious if a bit over-abundant. Apparently there was some confusion when we ordered the Bistecca, and we ended up with two orders instead of one! There was no way we could eat all this meat, so we sent the rest home for Alessandra’s dinner! We enjoyed out lunch with Ale so much, and were happy that Jami and Beth were getting to know some of our friends.

After a leisurely lunch we had to let Ale get back to work, so we said goodbye and headed back to Umbria. We’d planned to stop at the
Perugina factory, but weren’t sure if we’d see Corinna or not. She’s been so overwhelmed with school and tour groups for the last several weeks, and today promised to be the same.

Luckily we were able to catch Corinna for a quick hello, but I have to say, she looked very tired. We don’t get to see as much of Corinna socially now that she’s no longer living in Marsciano, and we miss her. She did take a minute to set up the video that would explain about chocolate and what’s made in the Perugina factory. After the film we did some serious chocolate shopping, and left with lots of goodies to be enjoyed now, and back in the states.

Once back home we had time to relax and unwind from another busy day. We were going to take Jami and Beth up towards Ospedaletto to Angelino and Peppa’s for dinner. Wendy and Corrado would be joining us, and Belinda and Giacomo were able to come as well, so we’d have quite a party.

As usual, once you’re seated at Angelino’s, the food just starts coming! Since we’d made reservations our antipasto was already on the table, but we waited for the others, difficult as that was! Just a few minutes later Belinda and Giacomo arrived, then Wendy called to say they were in Marsciano and would be arriving shortly.

The normal antipasto is torta al testo, a flatbread served hot off the grill. To accompany the bread we also had prosciutto, and Jami couldn’t get enough of it!

Of course the food just kept on coming, accompanied by wine, laughter and conversation. Antipasti were followed by pasta, then another pasta, then meats, then dessert, then coffee. We may or may not have had limoncello after that….it’s all just one delicious blur!

I was worried about being able to sleep with such a full stomach, but knew I’d need to get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we would get up even earlier (what kind of vacation IS this????), drive to Orvieto and catch the train to Florence.


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