Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Golden Sunshine

This morning we packed up the car to head on our extended weekend road trip to the beautiful area of Tuscany.  Jameson had a meltdown about halfway through the trip (2 hours into it) and we had to pull over and get him out of the car to calm him down.  Poor guy...we were driving right through his nap time and he was just cranky and tired of sitting still.  Christine gave him an apple to munch on after our little break on the side of the Autostrada, and after a few minutes of quiet, I look back, and this is what I see:

He was so tired he fell asleep mid-bite, half-chewed apple still in his mouth, covering his face, and core in hand.  He’ll probably come across this picture one day and be absolutely mortified, but everyone has to have at least a few of those embarrassing childhood pictures.

We arrived at our “Tuscan Villa” around 2:30 and had to wait around to be let into the gate.  Siesta (lunchtime) is from 12-3, and we had informed the owners we wouldn’t be here until 3.  Classic Italian timing...they roll in around 3:15 to open the gate, give us our keys, and walk us around our villa.  There are acres and acres of farmland surrounding us, and we have a perfect view of Cortona up on the mountain.
You can see the farmland, our villa (the house on the left), and Cortona on the mountain in the background.

La Mucchia (the name of the house) was built in 1730 and has just recently been restored.  The owners kept as much of the original architecture as they could during the restoration.  We have beautiful exposed beam ceilings with stone brick walls and brick flooring, and these beautiful solid wood shutters over the doors and windows.

We unloaded the car, threw everything inside, and jumped back into the car again to check out the town and buy groceries while it was still light out.  There was a huge storm looming and we wanted to do a bit of exploring before it started pouring.  We headed up to the Penny Saver (grocery store) to buy some essentials to last us through the weekend, you know, yogurt, bread, water, DIET COKE (Coca-Cola Light), and OREOS!!!  We need to take a moment to bask in this amazing-ness.  If I could attach sounds to pictures, I would have a choir of angels singing out their famous "AAAAAAAH" when you look at this.  It's almost too good to be true.

So we make our (amazing) purchases, walk out of the store with 3 grocery bags, a pack of water, and Jameson in tow, and it is POURING!  The sky has turned black and opened up on top of us.  Christine and I just stand there with all of our loot under the awning exchanging the usual rain expressions like "oh crap" and "it's pouring!!" when Christer walks up and pulls out a cheery "It's just liquid sunshine!  It won't hurt you!"  Right.  Thanks.  We throw our groceries in the car and decide to just drive around Cortona and see what was going on, and then from there decide whether we were going to face the rain or head back home.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Cortona is the town where they filmed "Under the Tuscan Sun," and let me tell you, I now know why they filmed a movie here.  This town is perfect!

As you can see from the first picture, the main part of town is literally on the side of a mountain.  Everything is built at different levels and nothing is even, giving it that beautiful Tuscan look.  Legend has it that 300 years after the great flood (you know, Noah and the ark?) Crano, a descendant of Noah, came across this hilltop and decided to build a city (Cortona) because of it's perfect location and calm, clean air.  Since then, the city has been the center of Roman and Medieval expansion as well as Renaissance art and architecture.  We make it to the top of the hill, into the heart of Cortona, and this is what we see:

It's nothing short of spectacular.  At the time that this picture was taken, I'm lucky I didn't catch a rain drop on my lens.  You can't tell, but it was still raining hard, and it was getting pretty chilly.  We drive around the town and decide that it's just too yucky outside to do any wandering, so we turn around and head back down the mountain to the villa for the evening.  Not even 1/2 a mile away from the bottom of the mountain, Christine goes "Christer!  Look!  The sun!" (which of course prompted some comments about the "liquid sunshine").  We decide to turn back around, go back up the mountain, and hope the sun coming out means the rain is about to stop.  We got super lucky because sure enough, we pull into our parking spot and the rain has stopped and the sun is out in full force.  Christer would call this "Golden Karma" (I'll explain's too much for one night).  This town is so steep and at such an angle that you're constantly walking up steps or inclines.  They had this little luxury to get from the parking lot to the main part of town:

That's Christer and Jameson on their way up.

At the very front of the city they have a roundabout with a monument and an overlook of the view.  These pictures were taken there:

I think this last one is my favorite from the trip.  No, I have no idea who those people are, but they're so sweet and make the perfect shadowed picture!  (If only they knew!)

We walked through the streets and looked in some shops and art galleries along the way.  Christine and I spent most of our time just snapping away because everything was so pretty.

While we were walking through the town all these medieval-dressed, drum and trumpet carrying people went passing by, and you know I love myself a free community event, so, of course, I had to snap some photos.

They were having some sort of medieval festival, so these guys were marching through town playing their trumpets and banging on the drums and waving their flags. 

We stopped for a couple more pictures, and then went for some gelato.

If you couldn't tell by his face, Jameson REALLY loved his gelato.

We were so lucky the weather cleared up so that we could explore this beautiful town.  It is like something out of a magazine...just so quaint and perfect.  More day trips through Tuscany tomorrow and the rest of the weekend...I'm sure there will be lots and lots of pictures so be sure to check back in.

Today my favorite thing about Italy is:  The age and history of all the architecture here.  This farmhouse was built in 1730 and is still as beautiful now as it was when it was built.  And that's nothing compared to the architecture in Cortona from the Roman and Renaissance eras.


  1. I've never been all that interested in one particular country, but after reading your stories and seeing your pictures, I am definitely falling in love with Italy! Thanks SO much for sharing your amazing adventure!

  2. I agree with Sarah Allison, I'm putting Italy on my "bucket list"! Keep the pictures and stories coming and I'm happy you're able to experience your dream come true in exploring/visiting your Italy.